The Taylor Park Boxing project was bound to happen for me. I remember photographing inside a small UFC gym in downtown Chicago and one of the coaches called me over. I forgot his name but he tells me “what are you doing photographing in this gym? You should be in a gym thats more authentic and grimy with people who are dedicated to this stuff!” He began mentioning several places and I ended up going to the Southside of Chicago, Robert Taylor, and since then it was history. It was an unusual place that an average person does not attend outside of school or work. I was photographing in this place that can be viewed as violent but was filled with love by the youth and mentors of a particular community. A group of individuals who were once strangers considered me apart of their family. The thing is, I started creating strong bonds within the community and slowly the project became deeper than boxing itself. I became attached to their livelihood, their stories, their experiences, and their dreams. After awhile, I was becoming a messenger to these individuals in the community.
A black community that isn’t destined to go far outside of their neighborhood due to fear that it is instilled in them. I wanted to break that barrier they had within themselves and place their souls in the essence of who these individuals are and what they represent outside of their community. Once, the work itself reached Rotterdam, Netherlands I saw them seeing themselves in that positive light knowing that their dreams could become true and it motivated me to want to give back more to what that gym needed. With the help of mentors and coaches newer equipment started replacing the old and more exploitation with the boxers were happening. I believe that this system works for the youth specifically for the Southside of Chicago. To better our youth everyone can help with a little guidance and recognition so that our youth can enhance their dreams and become better than what we are.
Arion Davis, 22, Chicago, IL