Boxing Circus, Australia
Popular throughout the 20th century in Australia, the Boxing Tent is a traditional tent that would travel from country town to country town staging boxing fights. In 1924, Roy Bell's is one of the first men to take to the road with his caravan. Renowned for having taken his tent all over the Northern Territory, the state of Queensland and New South Wales, he later became one of the leading figures of the Boxing Tent phenomenon. From a very young age his grandson Michael Karaitiana was immersed in the atmosphere of this show.
Michael’s father was Maori, his mother Australian. The Boxing Tent is therefore more than a simple boxing match; it’s a family story, the memory of the Bell's family. Michael left school at 16 to take over the business. In a way he got his revenge and saved his father’s honour. To be able to keep the business running has been a source of personal pride, even though he remains modest about it.
As soon as an opportunity comes up, Michael loads up his bus, kisses his wife Mandy and his children goodbye and heads off with a few boxers to travel the roads of the Outback. Most of the time their journey takes them to pubs, isolated aboriginal communities or cattle stations in the state of Northern Territory.
Today Michael is the last man in Australia to keep the original generational show of the Boxing Tent alive. And he is already thinking of passing on his knowledge to one of his eldest son, Marshall. The Boxing Tent is a real family tradition : the Bell's show still has a long life ahead. Between 2011 and 2013, in order to document the last original Boxing Tent, I travelled with Michael Karaitiana and his son Marshall through the Northern Territory from Alice Springs to Darwin.
Rugged and magnificent, violent and luminous, this savage landscape and the people who live within it; a story of personal adaptation.