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SECONDS OUT FACES OF BOXING

PHOTOGRAPHY BY PIEK


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Keats said “beauty is truth, truth is beauty”. Boxing fans say “boxing is art, art is boxing”. Both are involved with primal emotions, where logic is suspended for the drama of the fist. True fans see blood as the paint on the canvas of the fight. The emotions in boxing are dramatic and the ballet of violence keeps us returning to its theatre.

Bruce Silverglade President Gleason’s Gym Brooklyn, New York


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PHOTOGRAPHY BY PIEK

SECONDS OUT FACES OF BOXING

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We got acquainted in the winter of 1989. She had come along with a friend who was doing his internship with me; that was what she wanted as well. She was studying photography at the academy in The Hague. Her hair in a buzz cut, a tip-tilted nose, her eyes fierce and defensive, but at the same time very vulnerable. Her clothes all-concealing her slender body. She was doing honor to her name: ‘Piek’. That’s enough. After just a single day of assisting I felt she should stay. I had taken up the plan for a black and white series in which all the models, clothing and backdrops would be painted black. A study in shades of black. She will never forget. For three months her nostrils were filled with soot and her hands stained with blacking, with grubby nails impossible to scrub clean. But she couldn’t care less; she toiled like a docker, climbed tripods, scampered and ran, made coffee and changed the films in the Hasselblad cassettes at a murderous pace whilst always remaining cheerful. Meanwhile she constantly kept on making better prints. She was a super intern. Not surprisingly I asked her to be my first paid assistant as soon as she finished school. All in all she worked in my studio for ten years. Then it was time for her to spread her wings, to grow as an independent photographer, with her own signature. The result of that quest lies in front of you. ‘Seconds Out’ has resulted in an impressive and touching monument to Dutch boxing. It completely reflects Piek’s persona: a sensitive fighter, an unassuming but tenacious woman who sought out the soft side of the hard world of men with a great deal of compassion. Exploratory and invisible, she sneaked around boxing rings for years on end, prying with her fierce blue eyes for the right moment. It was not the moment of the harsh blow that particularly interested her, but the moment of transformation; the tough hunk of meat and muscles changing into a boy, tired and sometimes almost beaten. The photo cutouts have been carefully made. Often classical, sometimes unusual, hands coming into the picture like tentacles, noses almost pushing the frame. Clear photography. Yet, the idea of painting comes to mind from the images. The distinct faces often look biblical. When the trainer whispers instructions in his pupil’s exhausted ear I have to think of Judas – at the verge of selling his soul for a few silver coins. And when a boxer is being revived with a sponge, one of the works of mercy comes to mind: ‘Give drink to the thirsty.’ That is how painterly her photography is. This is even more the case given lighting conditions that are less than favorable. Hopelessly harsh fluorescent light that takes the honor out of victory. While the major part of this book is situated in the boxer’s corner, there is a number of photos dedicated to the action in the ring. In black and white they form a beautiful contrast to the stillness in the portraits. Here we see the moments prior to the exhaustion; animal power caught at the moment the blow hits the hardest. Classical sports photography supporting the story. A difficult discipline in photography: framing the right moment of the action under difficult circumstances. This is something that isn’t given to me, being a comfortable studio photographer. Ambitious as I am, a mild envy comes over me when I see that quality with Piek. But at the same time, a feeling of immense pride predominates. She managed this job entirely by her own devices, tackled it with both hands with this book as the wonderful result. She figuratively stepped into the ring and hasn’t been cornered. On the contrary. We, the viewers are being cornered, blown away with deliberate well- balanced images And I don’t mind when that happens. Erwin Olaf Amsterdam, 16 February 2012

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Freezing the fight

Two boxers are facing each other before the match. They look at each other, silently and motionless. They look at each other to show they are not afraid, while at the same time they each know they are both scared, feeling the fear in every fiber of their bodies. Both know they are going to be hit, but they focus on the blows they are going to deal, there and there. The taking is being blocked out. They eye one another to read the opponent. It is in the eyes of a fighter that the little piece of fear can be found that the body doesn’t show. The solitude of boxing is summarized by a gong and two words: ‘Seconds Out’. The people that supported the boxer in the weeks of preparation step out between the ropes. The ring stool that provided peace and felt secure, is taken away. A final tap on the cheek or the shoulder and the fighter is alone in the ring. Just as his opponent is. ‘Box’, is called. A short gesture by the referee evaporates the space between the fighters as they close in on each other. Their breathing controlled, still.Moving, almost dancing. A first blow, but not before the gloves have slightly touched, higher then for a punch. A sign of respect. For a moment the fear has gone. Or is just still there. For both of them. Openness. Sometimes even a smile. In boxing fear and courage come together. This is also true for other sports like bungee jumping, motor racing and cycling. But in no other sport is the confrontation between two persons so sharply defined. Boxers can’t run away, they are in a ring, between ropes. They don’t dare to run away. Not from themselves, not from their attendants, not from the audience. They remain in front of each other, prying. They hear the coach, the audience in the hall, they can hear each another breathing. Then somebody: ‘Get him.’ Boxers move around their fear, and they try to demolish each other.High narrow lace-up shoes. Boxing is constantly moving, never standing still. Letting the feet work, the forehand doing its job, keeping the body in motion. And always the fear. Even during the match a boxer doesn’t want to show his fear. He looks and pries. Not just to cope with the fight and to see what the other is doing, but also to spot that little bit of fear in the opponent. He keeps his eyes straight. As the match progresses the glance changes. This is impossible to keep up. A point advantage, a couple of punches coming through, and still they face each other. The boy who thinks he is going to win looks at another boy who probably isn’t doing any too well, but still hopes he is going to win. Trust and hope in one glance, where do you find that? Splashes of blood on the referee’s sleeve. Blood on the journalist’s laptop alongside the ring. Blood on the napkins covering a plate with pieces of cheese and sausage for a juror. Boxing is hard. Workouts are hard. Bouts are hard. Receiving a punch on the head is hard. Even when wearing headgear. Even a miss is hard for the one thrusting. A glance from a boxer is hard, even more so from under the headgear. Like a hat casting a shadow on a face. Outside of the ring those eyes are not hard. After showering, when the wounds are lightly dressed, yet adorning the face, then the eyes of the boxer are open and playful, then he has recovered from the match. His eyes are back to normal. “Come on”, sounds from within the audience. A father calls out to his son, with a ring in his voice that thrills the entire arena. As if the father himself is feeling the blows, he moves accordingly. Motionlessly watching two boxers, holding your breath.

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Watching a boxing match is beautiful. Watching all the things happening around the boxing is beautiful. One can follow a match by watching the father of one of the fighters. Don’t look at the mother. I have never seen a mother watching a fight. A mother doesn’t dare to look. Boxing is the most beautiful sport to be up close, to deal with in a sensory manner. The sweat spraying, saliva, blood, a mouthguard on the canvas, a stool between the ropes, a bucket with a sponge. Large trunks in different colors. Fair skin, dark skin. Tattoos. Bits of tape around a finger. Everything moves. Until the sound of the gong, and it’s back to the corner. A moment of rest, a waving blanket bringing coolness. It’s nice to just follow the referee. A referee who leads with a minimum of words. Box. Break. Stop. One that leads with his hands and gloves. And with his eyes. Compelling eyes. Observant. A flag being carried into the arena by a boy preceding a boxer, that is wonderful. The boy being proud, flag up high, the boxer following modestly, concentrated. They know each other. They are friends. A flag draped around the winner’s shoulders after the match, that is more beautiful than a cup or a belt. Flowers that are thrown into the arena, and being caught. Sometimes a referee telling that clinching and leaning isn’t allowed. A nod with the head and after that clinching and leaning all the same, because there’s nothing else you can do. The fear of the towel during the round, the coolness of the towel in between the rounds. Water from a bottle with a spout. They aren’t talkers, boxers. Not many words are used in sports, and I was once told that sport cannot be understood in words. I cannot accept that. I realize that in the most beautiful visual sport, the sport where watching is so important, words are inferior. That words don’t count, except in counting. Even then the fingers are dominant. The gesture in the air. Once again those glances. Of the downed man looking up at the referee, trying to look up, trying to hide that he is dying from theinside. And the opponent who is looking as well, is he going to make it? Already looking around searching for his coach, feeling the audience’s reaction, who is the strongest. Two glances that used to be identical have been torn apart. Man is revealing himself. This is what happens in the ring: fighters become men. Boxing is a sport for photographs, more than a sport for moving images. It’s too fast, boxing on television is too flat and lacks depth on a display. It’s too far away, it’s moving, boxing is going too fast. Boxing in a movie can be wonderful, with a good photographer behind the camera, but everything keeps moving. When I am watching a fight, somewhere inside of me I feel the urge to freeze those fast moving fists, feet, heads and bodies. It’s almost impossible to freeze boxing. It can be done. Break. Click. Jan van Mersbergen

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Born in Amsterdam, 1967, she currently lives and works in Los Angeles, practicing Nichiren Buddhism. She remained undefeated throughout her entire professional fighting career. Lucia Rijker won six world championships: four times in kickboxing and twice as a boxer. It was an Achilles tendon rupture that brought the best female fighter of all time to her knees. In 2005 she had to prematurely put an end to her brilliant career.

The first fight was in Marcanti, Amsterdam 1982. Against Sandra van Oostendorp. A blonde girl from Merijo Gym. I couldn’t wait to get into the ring. I was so exited that finally I had an opportunity to show my fighting skill. I never recall feeling like that again. I was so glad I could fight. When I think back about that fight it brings back those feelings again. My brother was in the audience and I think my sister was there too. ‘A natural talent is born’, the newspaper’s headlines read the following day. Between my first match and the following 25 years of experience as a fighter, a lot happened. Reflecting, contemplating and analyzing my intentions, my thoughts and motivation to be such an extreme athlete and determined fighter. Analyzing my own behavior, in the ring as well as prior, before sparring and during sparring, I also analyzed my opponents: What makes one fighter win over the other? Both fighters train hard, so what makes a winner? Can you influence the outcome of a fight? That is why boxing is so magical. You don’t need to be a skilled fighter to win the match. This makes boxing such a fascinating sport because it’s quantum physics. It means the outcome is not predetermined, you can influence the fight with your mind. My first fight I won on points. I didn’t go for a knockout. I was still a limited fighter, however I was determined to beat her. It would have been presumptuous to have stepped into the ring thinking ‘let’s beat up that girl’. I also was an introverted kid so I didn’t speak much and with my Dutch humility I wanted my action to do the talking. Of course I went into the ring with the intention of winning. There’s always the possibility of a lucky punch, but you can’t count on that. I realize that everything is being recorded and saved in the mind: the things you are capable of and have already done, your possibilities. During my first fight I wasn’t able to manifest that yet. I was young and had little self-knowledge. Even though a KO was on my mind I was happy to get a unanimous decision. I did say: I’m gonna win. Sure. I was really going to do everything I could to win. I deliberately chose martial arts. One-on-one combat. Because it’s one of the most challenging sports. It’s the same with a sport like tennis, however with tennis you don’t have the physical pain and the fear of knockout. There’s no humiliation. That’s what makes boxing a super sport; mentally and spiritually. I’m referring to all one on one combat sports, especially the gladiator sports – MMA, boxing, kickboxing – taking place in a ring. The pressure of the spotlights in an arena making it all the more intense. I hardly experience pain during a fight. There is a build up toward the fight. You get used to the pain. Pain is part of the sport. It’s part of the game. In my preparation for combat I mentally and physically condition my mind and body to be ready for an extremely challenging situation in such a way that makes the actual fight easy. Even the idea that you can be seriously hurt. Your hands can be smashed, your tendons, your knuckles, your thumbs, your jaw, your nose and your eyes. One shouldn’t whine when that happens. It’s all part of the sport. I once fought a girl from Argentina, Marcela Acuña. After 5 rounds I though OMG if I don’t come up with plan B I might have to go the distance with this girl. But I also thought: ‘I have no intention of punching myself empty on this broad.’ She kept on coming forward. She had a very good defense and a very short neck – she was only a little girl – so I couldn’t land my punches right. I remember her having ‘Jesus’ written across her top. I went very deep and asked myself: ‘What’s needed to eliminate her?’ I had an insight. The bell rang and I dropped her with a liver punch.

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I once fought a girl from Canada who ruptured my eardrum with a right overhand. She kept on slapping me. A tall girl with a very good jab, and very fast. For some reason I wasn’t very concentrated. Because of the burst eardrum my balance was gone. I hung in there; with a primal force that came from my toes. I walked through the ring and knocked her out. I’ve come across a number of opponents that were strong as well as tactically good.My final fight in the Arena for example. That girl was a world champion as well, and she had been preparing for six weeks. Because of a concussion and a ruptured abdominal muscle I only had twelve days of boxing preparation. Before that I only did cardio. But every day I had been chanting for two hours to win the match. ‘To be victorious – no matter what.’ I chant: ‘Nham myo ho renge kyo’. During the fight she was unable to hit me. It was just as if the punches slipped past me, as if I was invisible. It’s just where the opening in a fight is. Sometimes it is the mental part, sometimes the physical part and sometimes the spiritual part. All three factors are equally important in a fight. When both fighters are trained physically, spiritually and mentally, than it’s down to a question of technique, style and determination. Sometimes I listened to the trainer, sometimes I didn’t. It has happened that during a fight he would give me advice, which I dismissed in my head because I was picking up other information through my spiritual channels. He might say: ‘Pressurize!’ But the voice in my head said: ‘No, wait, she will walk into the trap herself.’ And in round three she did indeed. It was pop-pop-pop, over. You should never listen to the audience. You are always fighting yourself, your own demons, your own fears and your own negativity. You need to overcome those first, only then you can overcome your opponent. You only live for the upcoming match. Don’t ever look any further. If you get knocked out you can forget the rest. It’s tough, so every fight is your first and final fight. That’s how you should see it. When you loose the moment, chances are bigger that you will lose the match as well. You’re loosing the moment when you are dealing with the future, or when you are concerned with what people think of you. Then you are busy outside of yourself. As a fighter you cannot afford that. Before a match I would not talk to anybody. Talking requires energy. Three days in advance I would start to talk less. I became as feral as possible. My agent said: ‘You need to do your eyebrows, your nails, your hair.’ I let it all grow, and came out of training camp like a beast. Winning, that was the only thing. Winning, winning, winning. Being the best. But then there is the press conference, where one needs to be presentable. They had to take me to a beauty parlor to fix my looks back to normal. It’s good when your management takes care of you like that. I don’t miss professional boxing anymore. I did need to kick the habit. I had to work very hard for that. Self analysis. I made a study of my own mind, my own drive and intentions. I had already started the process when I was still boxing. It helped me a lot. Now it is my job as a motivational speaker. I understand the mental part, I understand fears and intentions as a consequence of injury. I’ve analyzed it all. I have analyzed, moved through and healed, the issues, that kept me small, fearful and attached so I could transform and elevate my consciousness into becoming a great coach speaker and inspirator. If you don’t, you keep on longing for a comeback of somesort. When you do it right you have power. ‘Be your greatest self’ is my slogan. Piek spoke with Lucia Rijker, edited by Wim Spijkers. The Hague, Los Angeles – 25 January 2012

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Protagonist

8. Pascal Lankreijer 11. Frank Rigter

38. Yasin Likoglu 39. Wesley Broekx

12. Djamshid Ahmad 13. Evita Eliza Adrianus

40. Antonio Francisca 41. Jordy Stolk

14. Tim van Vemde 15. Kenneth Bijwaard

42. Khoren Gevor VS Oleg Fedotov 44. Khoren Gevor VS Oleg Fedotov 46. Khoren Gevor VS Oleg Fedotov

16. Andre Janssens VS Ismail Abdoul 48. Abther Bar 48. Elton Backx 48. Nico Meester 48. Niels Brinkman

18. Astrando Arduin 20. Moussa Sabani 20. Kevin Paulussen 20. Sercan Sarica 20. Azzedine Bensediki

49. Barry Groenteman 50. Ruben Ligthert 51. Sanne Jansen

21. Marcel van Loon 21. Diego Grant 21. Engin Kavak 21. Stefan Roozenbeek

52. Hyram Rodriquez 53. Thomas Boots

22. Jeffrey van der Heijden 23. Wesley de la Paz

54. Ho Feng Wong 55. Ahmed El Ainouni

24. Gaetan Munto 25. Youssef Gedy

56. Hakan Sari VS Mounir Toumi 58. Astrando Arduin 58. Jonas Steinfeld 58. Liselore Willems 58. Antonio Francisca

26. Innocent Anyanwu VS Antonio Bento 28. Innocent Anyanwu VS Antonio Bento 32. Farouk Daku 33. Farouk Daku

59. Ershad Yaftali

35. Fikri Demirci

60. Brahim Kamal 60. Hafid El Boustati 60. Fawaad Feizi 60. Danny Smit

36. Dennis Slotegraaf

61. AndrĂŠ Janssens

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62. Aydin Umut 63. Anda Daku

95. Junio Mieto 96. Gian-Carlo Liesdeck

64. Dirk Chevalking 65. Dirk Chevalking

98. Hassan Aït Bassou VS Ali Ahrouari 101. Wessel van Schaijik

66. Bilal Lafrenedi 66. Ron Groen 66. Jasper van Vemde 66. Dominic Hoogendijk

102. Aito Koster

67. Innocent Anyanwu 68. Tonnie Visser VS George Saluea 70. Hafid el Boustati VS Marino Schouten 72. Khoren Gevor VS Oleg Fedotov

103. Carlos Torres Suarez 103. Fawaad Feizi 103. Shahram Hosseinpour 103. Mauricio Junker 104. Rocky Slachmuylders

74. Scott Duncan

109. René Prins VS Raymon Erberveld

77. Jodi Kayumba

2 . Bep van Klaveren Memorial, Topsportcentrum, Rotterdam

78. Naomi Olenski 79. Elias Nawed

 Ben Bril Memorial, 4. Carré, Amsterdam

80. Kevin Spook 6. Marichelle de Jong 82. Barry Groenteman VS Robert van Nimwegen 84. Barry Groenteman VS Robert van Nimwegen 86. Wesley Hertoge 89. Jean Louis Bryla 90. Mitchel Bloksma 91. Dave van der Ploeg 92. Mounir Toumi 93. Hakan Sari

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Credits All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owners.

Š 2012 Piek (Annemieke Kock) Š 2012 uitgeverij Komma uitgeverij Komma Postbus 1353 8001 BJ Zwolle info@uitgeverijkomma.nl www.uitgeverijkomma.nl Sales and distrubution www.dejongehond.nl Design Richard van der Horst Special thanks to Anthon Beeke for his advice Text Bruce Silverglade Erwin Olaf Jan van Mersbergen Lucia Rijker - rijkerstrijker.com English translation Maurits Burgers Printing Ando, den Haag Image post-production MAGIC Amsterdam Special thanks to Erwin Olaf and his studio Chris van Veen - de Haagse Directe Edwin Veer - magicgroup.nl Bep van Klaveren Memorial Wim Spijkers voordekunst.nl All boxers, trainers and referees My dear family www.piek.cc / www.piek.tv

ISBN 978-90-818042-7-1 / NUR 653

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ISBN 978-90-818042-7-1

9 789081 804271

WWW.UITGEVERIJKOMMA.NL

SECONDS OUT - FACES OF BOXING  

Een fotoboek over boksers. Anders. Indringend. Portretten van boksers op hun meest kwetsbare moment: in de hoek met hun trainer. Tussen 2 ro...

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