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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Davies - Director

Shadow Boxers - a kickstarter project

Meet John Cole whose lens once captured the gritty essence of New York City's Gleason's Gym in the 1970s. Back then, amidst the sweat and shadows of the gym, John was both a writer for Newsweek and a passionate photographer.

His black-and-white frames immortalised the diverse mix of individuals who frequented Gleason's boxing gymnasium – blue-collar workers – each with dreams of making it big.

But despite his talent, John lacked the confidence to share his work with the world. While he held a couple of exhibitions, the bulk of his boxing photographs remained latent in negatives, contact sheets, and archives for five decades.

It wasn't until John's celebrated book, "Generations: Hastings Fishing Families," that his eye for capturing community stories found its voice. Now, John sets out to shed light on boxing's forgotten era.

John's endeavour to publish his boxing collection required a boost, through Kickstarter. Thrilled by the opportunity, I joined forces with John to create a film that would front the fundraiser and tell a slice of the story of boxings shadowy past.

Over a couple of weeks, I explored John's motivations and the project's background, capturing his insights through intimate interviews.

We then shot material at Hastings Westhill Boxing Club where we witnessed firsthand the echoes of Gleason's Gym. Through a blend of on-camera footage and audio interviews, we assembled the film you see here.

John is an amazing photographer, but he's also one hell of a storyteller. Have a look at the film and witness John's unmistakable East Coast drawl that matches the strong visuals so beautifully.

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