New York City, 2011-2014.
“I first heard about underground boxing the way many legendary things are passed along—through the grapevine. Heading out one night with a few friends, I arrived at a giant building in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Joining a slow moving mass of people climbing a staircase, I felt the dull vibrations from the steps beneath me. The scene was rampant. The music was shaking the walls as if there was a subway going through the floor below us. I had arrived.”
Fought by male models and veteran Marines, publicized through spur-of-the-moment phone calls and digital word of mouth, the illegal boxing matches are unsanctioned underground events. One of them took place in this weird a giant Dim Sum restaurant where all the waiters got rid of all the chairs and tables, and just before the fight started, totally impromptu, that’s when they tied the knots in the ropes to make finalize the boxing ring.
“When I was growing up, we didn’t really find scenes like that. We were always drinking on stoops, chilling in the park and hanging out late night, etc. After hearing about the fights, I felt completely disconnected with New York and wondered how all of this was happening right under my nose. Although I never boxed, I was immediately drawn to the spectacle of the fights. The uncertainty of the new environment sparked a curiosity that brought me back fight after fight, and drew me in on what I still consider to be the true essence of the New York City underground scene: the rush.”
“Yalkin’s black and white images, which he began shooting in November 2010, reflect an indefinite undercurrent of the matches, encapsulating not just the fight itself but the emotion of the spectators, the grit of the environment and the sensory overload of the new situation. These boxing matches not only inspired me to go back to documentary work, but to really experiment with long exposure methods to add to what I consider abstract elements to the photos. My aim is to capture what I feel is the true essence of a fight by documenting the rush, sound and the chaotic feel of the environment as much as I can through my photography”