Valentine’s Day is a good time to think about love, friends and dreams but this story actually began the day before Valentine’s Day. It was gray, wet and cold but despite that the pursuit of a nineteen year old’s dream brought a father and son to a track in Bellingham, Washington. I was there by chance searching for photographs but as I think more about it, shooting street photography for me is as much about collecting stories and meeting strangers as it is about capturing images.
From the bleachers I watched the young man dressed in a bright orange sweatshirt and black sweatpants run lap after lap around an empty track in front of an empty stadium. As he passed his father, numbers were called out in Spanish. The young man’s face showed neither elation nor discontent with the times and his father did not banter or prod his son. Even from the bleachers I could see that the drive and dream was generated from within the young man, he was living his dream, not his father’s dream. It was his dream that delivered him to the track on Saturday morning and drove his body through the cold winds lap after lap. Too curious to simply watch from the bleachers I slowly made my way down the stadium stairs, stopping along the way to capture the father and son team from different angles.
As nonchalant as I could I ambled down the track getting close enough to see that dad was timing laps with his iPhone. The runner approached his father again and cuatro-cinco-something was called out and without a change in facial expression or pace the young man in the orange continued his journey.
“Looks like you have a good athlete there,” I told the father.
“Yes, he is a good athlete,” the father said with pride.
“What sport is he in?”
“Boxing, he is the Golden Gloves Champion of Washington State, two years in a row, Welterweight, and this year he was selected as the Golden Boy. We weren’t expecting that.”
Golden Gloves is part of the amateur wing of boxing in the United States. Many of the greatest professional and Olympian boxers, such a Mohammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, were Golden Gloves Champions before they turned pro. But what is a “Golden Boy?”
The father, Ernesto Torres, explained that they choose from all the boxers representing the Northwest and Alaska, one boxer who’s tournament performance is deemed the best. Kevin Torres, was that boxer, he was the Golden Boy.
Kevin is one hundred and fifty-two pounds of ambition wrapped in lean, fast-twice muscle with a work ethic that coaches dream of. I know he is all muscle because his father showed me pictures of Kevin wearing only gloves, shorts and a look of determination. After the work out I asked Kevin, “Why do you drive twice a week to Tacoma (at least four hours round trip) for two hours of coaching and sparring plus a bout with Seattle traffic?”
He locked his brown eyes on my blues and said softly but with authority, “I want to be the best boxer I can be and that’s the best place to train.”
And when I asked him why he trained so hard to be punched by people, he answered softly again with the sincerity of a romantic, “I love this sport.”
Kevin will fight for the regional championship in Las Vegas this March and if he wins there he will go onto the national championships in Salt Lake in May, after that he will turn pro.
I don’t always talk to my subjects when I shoot street photography but when I do I always feel better about taking their photograph. In Kevin and Ernesto’s case I lowered my camera as we talked and didn’t start photographing again until they were about to leave but by then we were all more relaxed with each other and they were glad to cooperate with me. I could have chosen a better backdrop than their truck and that eagle decal but sometimes I simply screwup. However, I have no doubt if I see them again at the track they’ll give me a second chance.
The other photos here are some of my favorites from the last six months. I hope you enjoy them.