Friday, January 26, 2007

"She Bee Stingin'"

A total surprise... got a call via the agent, wanting to know if I was available to head off that afternoon (driving to Jozi as I was) t'wards Emperor's Palace. GQ wanted me to photograph Laila Ali, for an interview with Michelle Constant. Since then I have worked a few times with Michelle, and I cannot think of a better place to start than with the daughter of "the greatest". But I got another highlight out of nowhere... I got to meet Laila's manager, Damon Bingham, the son of Howard Bingham, the photographer that traveled around with Ali during the key moments of his career... bizarre that the family connection should continue like that.

After shooting her portrait (a hurried affair, with a number of press photographers at my back unamused at the clout GQ seemed to wield) I got to shoot her during her warm-up/training in the ring... she has a lot of her father's humour and attitude, something that became all the more obvious when Beyonce came on the iPod and her footwork showed that something extra... after meeting her, it turns out I scored a ticket to the fight coming up the weekend. Sadly, I only found out after the fact. Still, no loss really... she knocked her opponent out in 57 seconds, her 21st KO and 24th victory as a Super Middleweight, leaving her undefeated. She even had the grace to apologize later to South Africa for ending it all so quickly, as some had been expecting more of an event what with all the trash-talking from her opponent... who was she again?



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