Photography by Peter Dean Rickards
On a Thursday Night in the middle of the concrete jungle, the Lions come out to play. Already notorious for its garrison politics, this particular downtown community cements its reputation by adding brute sport to its list of attributes. Unyielding to outside authority, its proud residents are often misunderstood by outsiders who fear what they don’t understand. As a population detached and growing larger each week the anticipation is thick in the air as we witness an incredibly entertaining release.
The crowd that surrounds is jovial, boisterous and dense and since we’re late it takes great effort to penetrate this barrier. It’s a privilege to stand close; everybody wants to see what’s going on. It’s ‘Thursday Night at the Fights’- street brawling in its most organized form; a makeshift ring constructed of two ropes held in place by feeble pieces of wood, lodged not too securely in the ground and a couple of nearby lampposts.
There’s no pretense here. No one bothers about things as trivial as mouthguards or doctors or even a bell. Many are dressed in rags and bear a slight resemblance to guttersnipes. To others, these are the dregs of society. Anyone brave enough (or drunk enough) to step inside must be prepared to take a beating; the crowd doesn’t react well to boring fights. So when two boys calling themselves ‘Tall Man’ and ‘Tupac’, (neither looking a day over twelve) knock fists to start their fight, little Tupac stares up at the other with a lust for blood in his eyes.