I met olympian Anthony Ogogo very soon after injury forced his early retirement from professional boxing at 30 years old.
Before taking the first sip of his cappachino in a small cafe in Essex, the Lowestoft born fighter began talking me through the sequence of events that lead to his current position.
He began with the rocky and injury ridden road to the Olympic Games in London 2012. Despite far from ideal preparation and a family crisis during the competition, Anthony won bronze and soon after turned pro. He was signed by leading promotor - Golden Boy and tipped by many to become a world champion middleweight. Fate had other ideas and the next seven years have delivered little glory. Frustration and pain is evident in his voice as Anthony tallies a long list of eye injuries and complications that would make yours water. The turning point was a night in October 2016 when after 8 rounds of boxing Anthony's corner threw in the towel when it was clear there was something wrong with their mans vision. In fact there was so much damage to his eyes and the surrounding delicate muscle tissue, that they would never be the same.
Anthony refused to be defeated and went on to have seven separate operations and spend more money than he'd ever earn in the ring to fix his eyes and return to the ring.
"There were a lot of dark days ahead" recalls Anthony. One day whilst making his way back from an operation in the States Anthony had to endure an 8 hour wait at Boston airport. Alone, in pain and barely able to see he had to dig deep. The darkest day was yet to come. On his first return to sparring, Anthony couldn't see his opponents punches coming and at that point realised there was no return. This was an obstacle too big and the battle was over. Years of hopes and dreams came crashing down and this was the end of the rocky road.
Anthony is a positive lad and has a lot of hunger and desire to succeed. Being a boxer he is used to discipline and has age on his side. But at the moment he is in the grieving process. He's been left out in the cold, shut out of the sport he loves and denied the glory that he was due.
For the shoot, I wanted a location that would emphasise and reflect Anthonys current situation. The Brentwood Center is a boxing venue and leisure center close to Anthonys home is Essex. The outside areas lent themselves to the tone and even offered symbolism of the boxing ring and also the isolation that Anthony finds himself.
There is no doubt that in time Anthony will succeed in channeling his hunger into a new vocation. He'll hopefully look back at these images and his current position and be proud of the way he's navigated his way to a new area of success.
Good luck Anthony and thanks for sitting!
All images copywright jonpaulladd 2019
Olympian Anthony Ogogo forced into early retirement