This photoessay, “Women Boxers” was born from a desire to show women from an unusual perspective: fighting in the boxing ring. By highlighting a side of women that is commonly associated with masculinity—what many would even call a dark side—my hope is to broaden our perception of the limits of womanhood.
Each one of these female athletes has her own story but all of them shared something in common: humble origins and family environments in which the prevailing atmosphere was need and poverty.
None of my subjects hailed from “conventional” families, or from nice homes with gardens, or from airy apartments with balcony views. For these women, their past became their identity and situated them in a present where sacrifice, respect and love for boxing are the very air they breath. For these brave women, boxing is a form of art: the art of hitting and not being hit.
These athletes live a life of discipline and strict training. Every day when they get up, they are looking for a different future for themselves. They spend what free time they have on long commuter rides from poor, suburban neighborhoods, traveling for the chance to get in the ring.
They train every morning, sometimes evenings too, day after day. All of them are pouring their hearts out for the chance to fulfill a dream, a shot at the world championship.
This dream is what keeps them standing on their feet, this dream has kept them from falling, kept them waking up, training, struggling and fighting.
"There’s no diploma in the world that declares you as an artist—it’s not like becoming a doctor. You can declare yourself an artist and then figure out how to be an artist." —Kara Walker
In a new episode from the ART21 Exclusive series, artist Kara Walker reflects on her early success and offers advice to the next generation of artists, shown again recent work at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. and the 2014 Frieze Art Fair.