The Modern Kids: Photographer Jona Frank's series captures Merseyside's driven young boxers

Frank visited the Wirral CP Boxing Club for his photography series

When I was just out of college, I drove all over the US. Just me looking and photographing and driving around with my best friend. On one of these trips I met two lads from Ellesmere Port at a youth hostel in New Orleans. I stayed in touch with one of them, Steve, for more than 20 years. We wrote, occasionally saw each other, lost touch, and then got back in touch towards the end of 2010.

When I went to visit, I contacted Steve and took the train to Chester. We were talking about my work and my interest in adolescents and he brought me to the Wirral CP Boxing Club.

I returned about a year later and started taking pictures. I liked hanging out in the gym – I liked how inviting and open the space is and how hard these boys worked. I also liked the history – here was a place where age and youth and dads and lads all coincide and work together.

 

The boxers are the kindest, sweetest, funniest boys I have ever met. And the toughest. Macca, who runs the gym and watches over the boys, truly loves them and this extends far beyond their workout. I have seen coaches work with kids and the season ends and they move on, but there is this staying power at the gym. It's where the boys can bond and do something healthy and they learn this camaraderie that they carry outside of the ring.

All the boys tried to act tough for the camera. They remind me of the Arcade Fire song "Rococo": "They seem wild, but they are so tame." I kept thinking about how these boys, in this town, fully inhabit their lives. This is them right now, but their faces evoke the past.

Jona Frank's The Modern Kids will be shown from 15 May as part of LOOK/15- Liverpool International Photography Festival lookphotofestival.com

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