Growing up I had the opportunity to go a a bunch of boxing events throughout Florida. This was in a time when Miami Beach was still a fight center in the boxing world. Through my father’s Uncle I was able to not only see some of the great match ups that came through Florida, but to also meet the boxers and promoters. As a young kid I thought that this world was amazing ( much to my mother’s dismay). So anytime the opportunity arrises to photograph something boxing related I jump at it.
When Joshua Prezant Photography got the call to photograph legendary boxer and Olympic gold medalist Sugar Ray Leonard I made sure to clear the schedule to make it work. Right away my mind started to go wild with all amazing things I wanted to try to do photographically. But then I soon learned that I would be photographing him for a story not necessarily about boxing, but for a different fight that he took on. He was helping to shed light on a dark time in his life as a teen when he was sexually abused by two people very close to him.
With more details about the story I learned that I would be photographing him in his hotel room in Miami Beach late at night as he was preparing to give a motivational speech the next day to a thousand or so corporate folks from Burger King. Out when anything overly related to boxing in the photograph. No gloves, no trucks, no wardrobe changes, no boxing ring, no sweat! Just an intimate portrait of Sugar Ray in his “lounge around the house comfy clothing.”
I had to work with what I had. Plus, how much into a photo shoot would he be after being interviewed about his abuse for an hour or so. As I was setting up the lighting I carefully listened to his story as writer Wayne Coffey interviewed him. After they were done, it was nearly 10:30 pm or so. To my amazement Sugar Ray was truly hospital and easy going when we started shooting. Although we did not have much time and after what had to be an emotionally draining interview he patiently sat for my photo session…. Even allowing me to get a more upbeat idea in before we ended.