Gallery View: Boxing for lessons of life
Marco Calderon is a Mexican American photo journalist from Allentown who longed to give back to his community.
With "Fighters," a series of photographs of boxers from Luis Melendez's Allentown Boxing and Youth Program, he was able to do just that. In a an exhibit of portraits on display through Jan. 28, at Re:find, 437 Northampton St., Easton, he captures the drive, the fighting spirit and the heart behind the youths in the program.
"I'm a Mexican immigrant," explains Calderon, "and this is the community that taught me English. It made me who I am today and I wanted to give back somehow. I wanted to make some noise about this. These kids come from tough neighborhoods and Luis [Melendez] keeps them off the streets. He loves all the kids. He is like a dad to them."
Melendez, a former boxing champion, confirms that his main goal is to teach young men that there is life beyond the streets. He charges just $10 a month, and uses his free time after work and on weekends to train the boxers.
"I have between 60 and 70 kids in my program, and some can't even afford to pay $10 a month, so I don't charge them anything. I want to keep them off the streets however I can."
Jonathan Williams, a boxer Melendez trains, says that Melendez is more than a coach. "He's my 'dad,'" says Williams. "He's my mentor, and he's always a phone call away."
Williams is but one of the many young men photographed by Calderon. He took 24 photos and each is stark and striking, a contrast of glistening skin against a dark background. The men stand like warriors at the ready, the passion visible in their eyes.
As the young boxer Williams attests, "This is bigger than boxing. It's about life."