Exhibition: “Pride of The Black Country” @Fotofilia
Now here’s an exhibition I know quite a bit about. “Pride of The Black Country” is an exhibition of photographs by… erm… me (David Rann).
I first photographed Priory Park Amateur Boxing Club a few years ago for a uni project. At the time I couldn’t honestly profess to be a huge boxing fan but I quickly realised there was more to this place than just the sport.
In this crumbling shed on the edge of Dudley’s Priory Park, something amazing was going on. Youngsters from every concievable background were training side by side under the watchful eye of Paul Gough and his team of dedicated trainers.
I returned in the Autumn of 2010 to continue my documentation of this extraordinary group of people. I was told by parents how the club had transformed their previously wayward kids, how police officers had brought along youngsters, saying “we can’t do anything with him – can you?”, how there was now a huge waiting list for places, and how club members were competing – and winning – at increasingly high levels.
This just confirmed what I’d seen with my own eyes – that the trainers somehow commanded the respect and attention of these youngsters in a way that parents, teachers, police and other authority figures could only dream of. I saw a well-mannered, disciplined, focussed and hard-working group of young people that spent their spare time and spare energy working towards a clear and common goal.
Yes, there are pictures of the boxing itself. But I have chosen to concentrate more on the unique relationship between the young boxers and the trainers. This is a study not of violence and aggression, but of pride, self-respect and purpose.