A few months back, I started a project aimed at showcasing the passion, people, and stories of a group of local independent wrestlers. As a kid, I was a huge fan of professional wrestling. Guys like Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior were some of my earliest heroes. Like many young men, I eventually outgrew wrestling, dismissing it as a soap opera on steroids. Recently though, I've again found myself fascinated by wrestling.
As someone who left a stable job to follow my passion as a freelance photographer, I find inspiration in anyone who pursues their passion - especially when it involves getting thrown around the ring in front of a live audience by another grown man.
Beyond the action, wrestling also acts as a kind of microcosm of working class American anxiety. Underlying much of the characters and storylines are class battles, racial stereotypes, and narrow examples of mostly toxic masculinity. To watch a modern wrestling match is to witness much of working class Americas' fears and anxieties on full display, performed on a stage disguised as a wrestling ring. My ongoing project looks to unearth some of these stories and examine their meaning, particularly in the Trump era.
A few weeks ago, after previewing some images from the series on Instagram, the folks at 614 Magazine approached me about photographing another upstart wrestling league called New Ohio Wrestling that was holding an exhibition match at the Arnold Classic. Below are some images from the story that runs in the April issue. To read more about New Ohio Wrestling, pop on by the 614 website. As for my project, stay tuned in the months ahead for the full series.