Shakur Stevenson is one of the most promising young talents in boxing today. At 19, he’s just starting his career, choosing to go pro in 2017 after receiving the Silver medal in the 2016 Olympics. He’s the oldest of 9 siblings, named after Tupac Shakur and has a gracious and joyful demeanour, special for someone so tough in the ring. Photographer and filmmaker Emily Maye followed Shakur as he trained in Alexandria, Virginia with Coach Kay, the US Olympic team coach in the lead up to his pro debut in April.
Talking about where he’s come from and where he’s going...
“I started boxing when I was 5 years old, my granddad was a boxing coach. He also coached baseball and he would bring me to baseball games and he would bring the fighters too. When I met them and found out they were boxers, I thought it was so cool. I just felt like boxing was the coolest sport. I asked my granddad to take me to the gym to see them train and I just wanted to do it.”
Shakur is clearly a student of the game and dedicated to excelling in the sport. He’s poetic about the artistry of being a good boxer.
“There’s a lot of people who can just get in the ring and be tough. That’s not too hard to do. But my granddad always preached to me, boxing is like an art – It’s like the art of hitting and not getting hit. You’ve got to learn the art of boxing, you can’t just be in there taking punches.”
With his pro debut having just been announced and the match to be televised nationally, Shakur isn’t shy about proclaiming his goals. He thinks about the future and his place in boxing history.
“My goal is winning a world title in every weight division from 126 to 147, I want to take over boxing. I want to be a household name. Like Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, I want to be in that category.”