Live, Train, Fight like Thai - Book project
Hi, my name is Leon Rose. I have been a professional photographer for twenty years.
I shoot commercial work, for the last ten years I have been working on a project called "Live, Train, Fight like Thai". "Live, Train, Fight like" Thai is a Photo Essay/Documentary that documents the sport of Muay Thai in NZ.
About ten years ago, in an effort to get fit, I started to train in boxing gyms and then kickboxing gyms – I am inherently lazy and seem to respond well to being yelled at military-style for an hour! The trainers I met in the process were all fighters themselves, and a group of them approached me to ask if I could shoot their fights. The group – Alex Porter, John Galia, Tony Angelov, and the legendary Shane ‘Chopper’ Chapman, suggested they train me one-on-one for one session per week rotating between the four of them in exchange for my services.
Having never been a fighter and having been a firm believer in running away from conflict, I found myself thrust into the world of combat sport. This began a journey for me, and led to ten years of studying all aspects of the fight game through my lens.
Muay Thai is a most skilful art and is as beautiful as it is brutal. I learnt that to win in this sport involves the most incredible amount of dedication and training. It really is the training that has resounded with me. The dedication of these fighters who start their fight careers at very early ages, some as early as eight years old, is truly astonishing and is something I have a huge amount of respect for.
Of course, it's not all about the fighting. As a photographer I have focused on the lead-up to the fights, the training, the anticipation, the exhilaration of success and the disappointment of failure, the religious side involving traditional dance and praying before the battle, the medical side, the stitches, the wounds, and of course the ring girl phenomenon. I also turned my lens on to gambling, which is the driving force behind the sport in Thailand. It is also a way of survival for some, who go to the gyms and train and fight for food and accommodation.
So now, after ten years, it is time to formulate the project into a book. This was always my intention, and now thanks to the help and support of PQ Blackwell, I am well on my way to producing the culmination of my work and hopefully to give some well-deserved recognition to a sport that never gets any press and is looked at like the dark underbelly of boxing. I need a reasonably large amount to make this happen but I believe that if all the people who love boxing, kickboxing, and even those of you who love quality sports photography, can buy a print or a copy of the book, we can make this happen.
I am also offering my services as a photographer in exchange for donations. If you are a designer or an agency and you want to prepay a shoot day for a project I am offering packages for you. Every pledge, no matter how big or small, will help me reach my goal. Every person who pledges will have their name printed in the book with thanks. I really would love to see this project through as it has been so long in the making that it has become part of me. I have spent almost 1/5th of my life on this, and have seen two generations of fighters in that time.
If we succeed, there will be an exhibition and a book launch during next year’s Auckland Festival of Photography in June.
Please accept my humble thanks in advance... Let’s do this!