The Aura of Boxing
Project info

The Aura of Boxing is a new photographic study by Max Kandhola into the aesthetic and moral conflicts of the boxer within the spatial interior of the pugilistic landscape. Published by Dewi Lewis publishing in December 2013, the book contains 96 colour and black & white photographs and a new commissioned essay by Professor David Scott.
Max Kandhola has photographed boxers at different weight divisions, amateur and professional, unknown boxers, contenders and champions in the pursuit of the boxers odyssey. The Aura of Boxing intertwines the boxer and their environment, at the peripheral Max followed three established boxers, which provides a legacy and provenance of boxing histories. Julius Francis, a four-times British Heavyweight and Commonwealth champion, Kandhola first photographed in 2000 just before his fight with Mike Tyson; Howard ‘Clakka’ Clarke who fought at Madison Square Garden for the IBF Light Middleweight Title – he lost, after which his career significantly declined, with Howard winning only one fight out of his next seventy. He retired in 2007; Robert McCracken, who won the British Light Middleweight title in 1994 and the Commonwealth title in 1995 – currently McCracken is Performance director for the British Olympic team, and personal coach to the current IBF and WBA super-middleweight champion Carl Froch.

‘The canvas is a blank sheet of paper, a mystic writing pad , prepared each time a boxer enters the ring and the performance begins. The trace of the boxer is a sketched ephemeral imprint, as a new scripture is written, orchestrated by the subtle ballet movements of the body and feet. After each sparring match or ‘fight’, the canvas is re-written and reshaped. I call this the palimpsest -like landscape; the accidental marks, scraps, fluid, blood, smearing the fabric of the canvas, the soul of the feet blending and compressing the human pigment imbedded into the surface, to erase, cultivate and begin again’. Max Kandhola 2013

The Aura of Boxing will be launched in 2014, three distinct exhibitions will present Kandhola’s working methodologies in photographing The Aura of Boxing, each venue will provide spatial challenges in its installation within a gallery or industrial environment.

Historically 2014 significantly marks the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Joe Louis (1914), one of the greatest heavy weight boxers, and 50 years since Cassicus Clay was crowned world champion (1964), defeating Sonny Liston, and later on in the same year changed his name to Cassius X and later Muhammad Ali.

‘Aura is obscure. It is also ambiguous and magical, unless you believe within the context of your discipline, which is to have faith. You have to find and negotiate that place. Faith and belief is to exorcise your ghosts, to perform at your most heightened level of mind and soul, where the aura can be found. In Aura of Boxing and in my conversation with boxers, aura is the holy grail in boxing’ Max Kandhola Aura of Boxing 2013