This Marine Vet Turned Photographer Follows MMA Fighters In And Out Of The Ring

Entertainment
Amateur kick boxer Jafar Toshev, right, kicking opponent Joel Estevez in the face during their five-round amateur title fight in January 2016.
Photo by Anthony Geathers

Professional fighters and athletes spend their careers preparing for the brief moments in the ring or on the field. But what happens after the match, or the game, when the athletes hang up their gear and step out of the limelight?


This is what interests Anthony Geathers, a sports photographer and former Marine infantryman.

A courtesy portrait of photographer Anthony Geathers.

A longtime fan of competitive sports and sports photography, Geathers was drawn to the industry after leaving the Marines in 2012. While on active duty, he deployed twice with 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, to Helmand province, Afghanistan, taking part in the offensive to clear the Taliban-held city of Marjah from 2009-2010, and later to Kajaki and Sangin from 2011-2012.

The 25-year-old photographer lives in Brooklyn, New York, and attends the School of Video Arts in Manhattan. Since he started shoot professionally in 2012, Geathers’ photos have been used by Adidas and appeared on espnW and in The Players’ Tribune.

Related: Photographer uses vintage technique to capture modern warfare »

While Geathers covers a wide range of sports, his photos of mixed martial arts show an enthusiasm for following the story that takes place out of the spotlight.

“The personal stuff really drives the work,” explained Geathers. “You don’t get too much of the personal stuff in MMA, you get aggression, for 15, 20 minutes at a time.”

Portrait of amateur kick boxer Codie Payne after his three-round title fight at the Broad Street Ballroom in New York City in Fall 2015.Photo by Anthony Geathers

For Geathers, it’s not enough to just capture a powerful moment in the ring. He wants to get at what happens behind closed doors. That takes time and patience.

“The way I work, I’ll spend whatever amount of time I need to in order to get to know that person,” says Geathers, who explains that in some cases, his work is compiled over several years.

“If they’ve gone through some sort of pain, I see that. If they’re tired, I capture that,” says Geathers. “I capture what they do away from the spotlight. If they’re going through some hardship or if some family members come during a fight, I get a whole lot of what people don’t see — when they’re at training camp or outside of the spotlight.”

Light heavyweight champion Liam Mcgeary sharing a moment with his dad after capturing the title from opponent Emanuel Newton last summer.Photo by Anthony Geathers

“There’s a lot of interesting stuff behind the lights and closed doors; there’s a lot of emotion,” says Geathers. “All of these athletes work hard and they go through bumps and bruises and pain and agony, they put themselves in harm's way, to try to provide a little for their family. All of these emotions and of these things going on beyond the ring, just kind of attracts me.”

Check out more of Geathers’ incredible photos below.

Deontay Wilder, left, jabbing challenger Artur Spzika, right, during their WBC World Heavyweight Championship fight in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Rising heavyweight boxer Jarrell Miller, left, working with one of his trainers, Aureliano Sosa, in preparation for his 14th pro bout in September 2015.

A backstage photo of welterweight boxer Chris Algieri, from fight night on Dec. 5th, 2015, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

David Branch, right, hits a speed bag during his last days of camp with his long-time boxing coach Leonard Wilson.

Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario's seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.

Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.

The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.

Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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