While the sport of wrestling, on the wider spectrum, is one that carries with it the stigma of a fake sport; a spectacle and performance for the audience to indulge in fictional narratives and characters. This may be the case for WWF and its likewise off-shoots that has interestingly created its own sub-culture found predominantly across North America, however the actual sport of wrestling is as ancient as civilization itself. You’ll see all along history, participated by tribes and groups that span all corners of the globe. And it’s much more intense than you’d imagine—MMA is a good starting point to understanding the physical strain it takes to hold another person down in submission, or on the flip, escaping from a grapple made for ultimate bodily restraint.
It’s a powerful, clean and yet detailed look at the sport of wrestling, as well as an artistic display of the overall aesthetic you typically get from such entertainment—skin-tight lycra and all.
This act of physicality is perhaps best highlighted through UK-based photographer Nick Ballon’s photo series aptly dubbed The Virtue Of Wrestling. Through a minimalistic and blacked-out backdrop, Ballon’s images of his wrestling subjects highlight the sweat, tension, and the grimacing looks of pain that come with such levels of exertion. It’s a powerful, clean and yet detailed look at the sport of wrestling, as well as an artistic display of the overall aesthetic you typically get from such entertainment—skin-tight lycra and all.
While The Virtue Of Wrestling can very much stand alone as a captivating series, it is actually not Ballon’s first foray into the act of documenting the sport. As mentioned, wrestling can be found the world over, with a good example being Ballon’s previously shot series on Bolivia’s fighters, which you can check out in all its weird glory here. But before you do that, make sure to look through the more mainstream depiction found above. For more from Nick Ballon, head over to his official online portfolio here.