The Los Angeleno Fighter and Fashion Muse Explains How He Learned to Box Smart
“Boxing is like playing poker—you can really feel someone’s emotion,” says 24-year-old Zachary Wohlman of going head to head in the ring in this penetrating short by filmmaker Crystal Moselle. Having entered the world of professional boxing at a relatively late age, the striking Los Angeleno has taken the sport by storm, climbing its competitive ranks at a startling rate. He began in the ‘behind-the-barn’ amateur boxing scene in Mexico while attending military school across the border in Texas, and went on to win the coveted Los Angeles Golden Gloves in 2009. He turned pro in December 2011 and his signature slicked-back hairstyle has since graced the cover of LA Weekly and appeared in American Apparel campaigns. With a current four wins to a single loss and coaching support from the legendary Frederick Steven “Freddie” Roach—whose past training successes include the swift-footed world champion Manny Pacquiao—2013 looks to be his year. Moselle, a NOWNESS contributor who has shot for the likes of Sony and M.A.C. cosmetics, takes us to the other side of the ropes to unveil the boxer’s secrets before his upcoming fight against fellow welterweight Shawn Wate on February 22. “I like to capture the off moments and reveal the vulnerability that is not always visible,” says the director. Read on for more on Wohlman’s pre-fight rituals.
What’s your personal routine leading up to a match?
Zachary Wohlman: You want your body to be in a rhythm and have your timing right. Before I get into a fight I go to a witch doctor and light a candle. You basically write what your intention is on the candle and it burns while you’re fighting. I also wear the same T-shirt under my robe every fight. It’s pretty funny—I’m very superstitious so that’s part of my mental preparation. I have to stay very calm before a fight—whether or not you stress about it, you’ll still be getting in the ring.
Is the ring a lonely place?
ZW: You might think it is, but there’s a team vibe. It’s the energy from the trainers and coaches—I just go out there and carry the message.
Is being intuitive the best asset you bring into the ring as a fighter?
ZW: I’m very self-aware and conscious of what’s going on around me and how I’m feeling. It’s not always great as sometimes I can overthink things, but for the most part I’m just connected to the general energy. You learn intuition and street skills growing up but I think it’s also something you’re born with. A world champion once told me that your personality will show in the ring—boxers translate their lives into the way they fight. I’m not Mike Tyson. I’m not the come-in-to-knock-him-out kind of guy. I go in there and I box smart, I work off the jab, I set things up. I’m crafty, I’m tricky—that’s my personality both inside and outside the ring. There are pictures of me laughing while I’m fighting.
Surfer Kassia Meador Rides Nature’s Rhythms in Bruce Muller's Short Film
Longboard icon Kassia Meador floats serenely across the majestic waves in surfer and filmmaker Bruce Muller’s Echo. The visual meditation is the first of four shorts teasing the release this fall of Frequencies, an experimental documentary and visual essay by Muller shot at prime surfing destinations across Southern California. Starring Meador and with an original score from Los Angeles-based psyche-pop trio E.S.P, Frequencies aims to explore how man can find synergy with nature’s cycles. “Their are so many different frequencies all around us at all times: ocean waves, sound waves, light waves, infrared and many others outside our range, but all have an effect on us,” explains professional surfer and passionate photographer Meador. “There are many parallels we can connect between surfing and navigating life.” Having previously made the music video for Warpaint’s single “Elephant”, Florida-native Muller combined his love of surfing and the fantastical films of Ridley Scott, Andrei Tarkovsky and Akira Kurosawa in the upcoming feature. “We exist in a world that is vast and dynamic,” he says. “We’re using surfing as a medium to explore how we harness these energies and the effects they have on us."
James Lavelle Scores the Director’s Homage to a Fiery Spanish Ritual
Horses charge through fire and billowing smoke in director Tom Haines’ new 16mm short Luminarias. Set to 1930s Spanish poet Rafael Alberti’s passionate paean “Galope,” the film captures the dramatic scenes of the annual Luminarias festival in San Bartolome de Pinares, in the mountains northwest of Madrid, where every January locals leap over burning pine pyres on horseback as part of a 500-year-old ritual originally intended to purify villagers during the plague. Inspired by Spanish painter Goya’s spectacular use of flame, shadows and murky figures, and captivated by images of the festival from previous years, Haines spent a week filming in and around the cobblestoned village, interviewing residents in the build up to the festivities. “I think they fully believe in the purification element,” notes Haines. “Pregnant women jump with horses through fire, guys clutching six-month-old babies. That aspect of it certainly is fundamental.” Previously shooting music videos for the likes of Devendra Banhart, White Denim, and Temper Trap, Haines invited James Lavelle—whom he had worked with on the lauded UNKLE video for “Money and Run”—to score the film alongside sound designer Sven Tait. “It was about trying to find the right sound to accentuate the emotion,” offers Lavelle, “and mold this to what you’re seeing visually.”