El Gimnasio Hermanos Manchego

Theo Gould photographs the kids of a San Andrés boxing gym

Words by Theo Gould

Nelson “La Maldad” Manchego has created a warm and educational atmosphere within a hollow shell of a space.

San Andrés Island, one of the lesser known Caribbean Islands, is geographically closer to Nicaragua, yet politically part of Colombia. It is an idyllic a spot as you’ll find with its white sandy beaches, coral reefs and laid-back charm. The inhabitants here pay very little or no tax, and there is no duty on goods either. As such, the vast majority of the island’s income is generated by tourism. Heavy reliance on one thing means that when projections are not met, investments in infrastructure are generally slowed or pulled completely. In San Andrés it has given rise to a huge number of empty and abandoned spaces — often empty carcasses of buildings that were never finished.

Nelson Antonio “La Maldad” Manchego Sierra returned to San Andrés after a successful professional boxing career in the United States and Europe with a view to opening a free- to-all boxing gym to train local kids on the island. The building that now houses El Gimnasio Hermanos Manchego was originally filled with squatters and drug addicts. Moving them on, Nelson and a group of those closest to him cleaned out the space and lobbied local businesses and his contacts from his boxing career to garner equipment with which to open his gym. Cement, wood, punchbags, gloves, ropes and the like. Despite the generous donations, the space is still very basic. There is no inside lighting, the floor often floods and the excess must be swept out of the building.

Nelson was known as “La Maldad” from a young age. It was a moniker given to him by his friends because he never shied away from conflict. Telling this tale with an menacing glint in his eye, he describes an altercation where after punching one guy a number of times, he then proceeded to beat him with a stick, and henceforward “The Evil One” was born.

Colombia has a rich boxing history. Not quite as illustrious as their Cuban neighbours, but a proud history nonetheless. In the most recent Olympics, Ingrit Valencia won bronze in the Women’s Flyweight, and Yuberjén Martínez won silver in the Men’s Flyweight, with Ceiber Ávila reaching the quarter finals. Considering the fact that Colombia only sent five boxers to the finals in Rio, and in a country where the overwhelming sporting focuses are football and cycling, that is a truly excellent achievement.
San Andrés is a sweaty place — the humidity is frequently somewhere between 75-85%. With the temperature always hovering around 30° celsius (86° fahrenheit), and often very little wind, there is little respite from the heat. Training in these sorts of conditions is not for the faint-hearted.

Nelson has about fifteen students, aged from about 10 and upwards. Eulogising about his students with a rare passion, he describes how every day turns out differently. Some come once and never return, others are more dedicated and come most days. He believes that five or six have the quality to turn the sport into a profession and from watching some, I can’t say that I disagree. Here, there’s a level of professionalism I’ve rarely associated with adolescents.

There is very little employment on the island besides construction and hotel work, so in a lot of ways Nelson’s students are fighting to get off the island to fulfil their talent and create a better life for themselves.

Nelson estimates the approximate peak shelf-life for a professional boxer is around about 5 years, which would make it one of the shortest sporting windows in any sport. So, these students are racing against time to attract sponsorship and fight in rings with greater financial gain.

Nelson’s gym is the only of its kind on the island. Not only does he provide his time and expertise free-of-charge, but he has also managed to secure enough sponsorship that he feeds his students after every training session. They sit around on the few plastic and office chairs lying around the gym and talk about the sport. In a lot of ways Nelson has created a family whereby his students not only learn a valuable profession but it also keeps them out of trouble and away from nefarious lifestyles.

Sadly, there is a looming horizon in which the building may be taken away from Nelson to build a financial centre. Despite having the support of the new pro-sports Governor Ronald Housni Jaller, Nelson says he doesn’t know what’s going to happen to the gym as it stands. Yet, with the myriad of abandoned buildings on the island he is confident that there will be alternative spaces. We just hope that the hiatus in between finding another space and its opening is short and doesn’t disrupt the family that has been created here.

Knuckles That Have Never Been Cracked

Ollie Radford’s serene photographs of boys on the cusp of manhood challenge misconceptions of male adolescence

Words by Ollie Radford

Knuckles That Have Never Been Cracked is a body of work studying the in-between state of adolescent boys on the verge of adulthood and at the edge of their environment; it is an insight into the culture, behavior, placement, style and the uniform worn by these people. The work explores a familiarity I seek out within all of my work, a nod to home and the people that adorn it, an outward-looking, indirect exploration of myself. Within the work I am interested in creating portraits of the boys and their surroundings, showing the tough exterior and prominent stature they project when confronted with the camera, pushing the tension between the sitter and the photographer and breaking through it, creating a steamily true image of the subject. I hope to display the boys in a way which they are denied, due to their stereotyping and neglecting from society, in a new and softening light. The work is a movement toward and an attempt at changing outlooks toward a misunderstood culture.

Gondar

Kuba Ryniewicz’s striking photographs document a voyage to Ethiopia

Words by Kuba Ryniewicz

My trip to Ethiopia lasted exactly 30 days, which was the length of my visa allowance. Wherever I go my itinerary is always flexible. This allows me to stay in some places for longer and gain a deeper understanding of certain corners of towns and villages. On this occasion the city of Gondar was my main base. From here I took various trip across the north of the country.

I arrived to Addis Ababa on 11th January, 2016. I have to say - it wasn’t love at the first sight. Superficially Addis looks just like any other big city in Africa. It’s dusty and polluted, and due to its high altitude, I experienced difficulties with breathing, which affected my first perceptions of the land. The city itself reminded me of big village - animals are farmed everywhere, even by the airport or modern shopping malls.

I left the capital after 5 days. Since visiting Gondar my love to Ethiopia has grown rapidly. As soon as I arrived in the city a flock of electric blue birds flew over my head. Immediately I knew this would be a place I would stay at for longer than just a few days. Gondar is a beautiful and peaceful city in Amharia. One of the reasons I went there was to attend its annual religious festival, Timkat. Timkat is a celebration of Baptism. Personally I was more interested in the pop aspect of the celebrations – self-made costumes and three days of street dances.

Timkat is not only a religious celebration. Its all about fun - clubs are open the whole night and massive crowd of visitors from all over country dance until dawn. I imagine it to be some sort of equivalent to carnivals in South America. After three days of celebrations the town reverts back to its daily routines. Changes in the dynamic of Gondar over this period are very interesting to observe and photograph.

Whilst staying in Gondar I made a number of visits to locations in the outskirts of the city, including a football stadium. It was an impressive space, which could be easily identified as the main social space for the city’s youth. People were not only playing football, but practicing boxing or sweating in the DIY open-air gym.

When traveling, I like to integrate with locals and their microhabitats as much as possible. I used mini buses to travel across the city and learn first-hand about Ethiopians and their culture.

Kids of Grande Synthe

Portraits of Kurdish children in exile by photographer, Tori Ferenc

Words by Tori Ferenc

Portraits of Kurdish children in exile. Grande Synthe is a quiet neighbourhood on the outskirts of Dunkirk, France. It is also an area where many refugees have been moved after the evictions in Calais. Under a constant threat from nationalist groups and located between a busy motorway and railway tracks, it is a place where Kurdish kids live, play and grow up.

As a publisher and Community Interest Company, TRIP is dedicated to showcasing unconventional stories that may otherwise be overlooked. We aim to give a platform to the unseen and a microphone to the ignored. Expression is a right and should not be confined to those that can afford to work for free; which is why we strive to support a diverse range of creatives in their work, commissioning exciting projects and creatives to visualize them.
 

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