Inner-city Johannesburg is a mosaic of incredible contrasts and contradictions, another of the long-lasting legacies of apartheid. A short stroll can take one from sidewalks where heroin addicts share dirty needles in the shadow of gang-run “hijacked buildings”, to manicured parks and urbane entertainment precincts. In the midst of this is Hillbrow, once a trendy whites-only area and now one of the inner-city’s most notorious neighbourhoods. And in the heart of Hillbrow, against the ever-present backdrop of crime and poverty, is George Khosi’s boxing gym, one man’s attempt to bring discipline and hope to the youth of his neighbourhood.
Yomi Shokunbi, a Nigerian living in South Africa, at the Hillbrow Boxing Club on 20 February 2015. Currently a model and fitness trainer, he hopes to qualify for his boxing license in a few weeks time and become a professional heavyweight boxer.
Yomi Shokunbi, a Nigerian living in South Africa, at the Hillbrow Boxing Club on 20 February 2015. Currently a model and fitness trainer, he hopes to qualify for his boxing license in a few weeks time and become a professional heavyweight boxer.
The Hillbrow Boxing Club, located in Hillbrow, one of Johannesburg, South Africa's most notorious neighbourhoods, operates in the donated space of the forecourt of a disused petrol station. The club used to have a proper boxing ring, but this was destroyed after a minibus driver lost control of his vehicle and careened into the club, destroying the ring. Since then, the club has had to make do with an uneven structure fashioned from what could be salvaged of the original ring.
The Hillbrow Boxing Club, located in Hillbrow, one of Johannesburg, South Africa's most notorious neighbourhoods, operates in the donated space of the forecourt of a disused petrol station. The club used to have a proper boxing ring, but this was destroyed after a minibus driver lost control of his vehicle and careened into the club, destroying the ring. Since then, the club has had to make do with an uneven structure fashioned from what could be salvaged of the original ring.
Natalie Baniea with a youngster during an afternoon boxing training session at the Hillbrow Boxing Club in Johannesburg, South Africa. As the club does not have the resources to provide child-size equipment, the youngsters make do with adult gloves. Located in one of the city's most notorious neighbourhoods, the club offers a de facto after school program for neighbourhood youngsters, providing camaraderie, discipline and an activity away from the streets. Some of the children who started out this way have gone on to become national champions.
Natalie Baniea with a youngster during an afternoon boxing training session at the Hillbrow Boxing Club in Johannesburg, South Africa. As the club does not have the resources to provide child-size equipment, the youngsters make do with adult gloves. Located in one of the city's most notorious neighbourhoods, the club offers a de facto after school program for neighbourhood youngsters, providing camaraderie, discipline and an activity away from the streets. Some of the children who started out this way have gone on to become national champions.
Siyakudumisa Vapi's boxing boots and a couple of pairs of child-sized boxing gloves hang next to a painting on the wall in his room in Johannesburg, South Africa on 23 February 2015. Currently living in a curtained-off space in the basement of the Hillbrow Boxing Club in one of the city's most notorious neighbourhoods while between jobs, he is training for a fight against the third-ranked fighter in the national featherweight division; if he wins it wil bring him closer to his objective of challenging for the national title, and being able to make a decent living from boxing. Vapi believes boxing pulled him away from the streets and bad company, and gave him discipline.
Siyakudumisa Vapi's boxing boots and a couple of pairs of child-sized boxing gloves hang next to a painting on the wall in his room in Johannesburg, South Africa on 23 February 2015. Currently living in a curtained-off space in the basement of the Hillbrow Boxing Club in one of the city's most notorious neighbourhoods while between jobs, he is training for a fight against the third-ranked fighter in the national featherweight division; if he wins it wil bring him closer to his objective of challenging for the national title, and being able to make a decent living from boxing. Vapi believes boxing pulled him away from the streets and bad company, and gave him discipline.
Siyakudumisa Vapi, a licensed boxer hoping to make it as a professional, makes his way past a low overhang in the basement of the Hillbrow Boxing Club in Johannesburg, South Africa on 23 February 2015. He shares the basement with a number of young boxing hopefuls and down-on-their-luck former professionals, living in a curtained-off spaces. Between jobs, Vapi divides his time between seeking employment as a carpenter, and training for a fight against the third-ranked fighter in the national featherweight division; if he wins it wil bring him closer to his objective of challenging for the national title, and being able to make a decent living from boxing. Vapi believes boxing pulled him away from the streets and bad company, and gave him discipline.
Siyakudumisa Vapi, a licensed boxer hoping to make it as a professional, makes his way past a low overhang in the basement of the Hillbrow Boxing Club in Johannesburg, South Africa on 23 February 2015. He shares the basement with a number of young boxing hopefuls and down-on-their-luck former professionals, living in a curtained-off spaces. Between jobs, Vapi divides his time between seeking employment as a carpenter, and training for a fight against the third-ranked fighter in the national featherweight division; if he wins it wil bring him closer to his objective of challenging for the national title, and being able to make a decent living from boxing. Vapi believes boxing pulled him away from the streets and bad company, and gave him discipline.
A reflected portrait of Nelson "Madiba" Mandela looks out as Sanel takes advantage of free wi-fi in Braamfontein, an inner-city neighbourhood in Johannesburg, South Africa. Only a few minutes' walk from the poverty, overcrowding and drugs of Hillbrow, Braamfintein features manicured green spaces, upmarket boutiques and restaurants, and is home to the Joburg Theatre and the Joburg Ballet. Inner-city Johannesburg is characterised by such contrasts.
A reflected portrait of Nelson "Madiba" Mandela looks out as Sanel takes advantage of free wi-fi in Braamfontein, an inner-city neighbourhood in Johannesburg, South Africa. Only a few minutes' walk from the poverty, overcrowding and drugs of Hillbrow, Braamfintein features manicured green spaces, upmarket boutiques and restaurants, and is home to the Joburg Theatre and the Joburg Ballet. Inner-city Johannesburg is characterised by such contrasts.
A view of Hillbrow, an inner-city neighbourhood in Johannesburg, South Africa with a reputation for drugs, violence and crime. During the apartheid era, Hillbrow was the exclusive domain of wealthy white South Africans. During the unrest of 1980s black South Africans began to move into the area in defiance of the Group Areas Act, which decreed who could be where according to the colour of their skin. The whites moved out, taking their money with them, and the neighbourhood began a steady decline. After the advent of majority rule, poor black South Africans flooded into the inner city seeking a better life, and today the area is characterised by over-crowding, grinding poverty and drug problems.
A view of Hillbrow, an inner-city neighbourhood in Johannesburg, South Africa with a reputation for drugs, violence and crime. During the apartheid era, Hillbrow was the exclusive domain of wealthy white South Africans. During the unrest of 1980s black South Africans began to move into the area in defiance of the Group Areas Act, which decreed who could be where according to the colour of their skin. The whites moved out, taking their money with them, and the neighbourhood began a steady decline. After the advent of majority rule, poor black South Africans flooded into the inner city seeking a better life, and today the area is characterised by over-crowding, grinding poverty and drug problems.
Lungile Zakwe, a management consultant,  reading a novel during a break from work in Braamfontein, an inner-city neighbourhood in Johannesburg, South Africa. Only a few minutes' walk from the poverty, overcrowding and drugs of Hillbrow, Braamfontein features manicured green spaces, upmarket boutiques and restaurants, and is home to the Joburg Theatre and the Joburg Ballet. Inner-city Johannesburg is characterised by such contrasts.
Lungile Zakwe, a management consultant, reading a novel during a break from work in Braamfontein, an inner-city neighbourhood in Johannesburg, South Africa. Only a few minutes' walk from the poverty, overcrowding and drugs of Hillbrow, Braamfontein features manicured green spaces, upmarket boutiques and restaurants, and is home to the Joburg Theatre and the Joburg Ballet. Inner-city Johannesburg is characterised by such contrasts.
Children play with old car tyres on a quiet street in Hillbrow, an inner-city neighbourhood in Johannesburg, South Africa with a reputation for drugs, violence and crime. The children fill the tyres with gravel and sand, which makes a sound as they roll them and produces "engine smoke".
Children play with old car tyres on a quiet street in Hillbrow, an inner-city neighbourhood in Johannesburg, South Africa with a reputation for drugs, violence and crime. The children fill the tyres with gravel and sand, which makes a sound as they roll them and produces "engine smoke".
"Nyaope" drug addicts gather nightly in "Highrise Park" on the edge of Hillbrow, an inner-city Johannesburg neighbourhood with a notorious reputation.  A crude form of heroin reputedly cut with anything from anti-retrovirals to rat poison to pool cleaner, nyaope is either injected or smoked with a mixture of cannabis and tobacco. The drug is cheap (about R20/ $1.70 per "round") and devastatingly addictive - it produces a brief high, but then leaves the user with vicious withdrawal symptoms, constantly searching for the next high.
"Nyaope" drug addicts gather nightly in "Highrise Park" on the edge of Hillbrow, an inner-city Johannesburg neighbourhood with a notorious reputation. A crude form of heroin reputedly cut with anything from anti-retrovirals to rat poison to pool cleaner, nyaope is either injected or smoked with a mixture of cannabis and tobacco. The drug is cheap (about R20/ $1.70 per "round") and devastatingly addictive - it produces a brief high, but then leaves the user with vicious withdrawal symptoms, constantly searching for the next high.
A fire-damaged "hijacked building" (illegally occupied squat) in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa. After a steep decline in the 1990s, the inner city is now a peculiar mix of interspersed working class, down-and-out and gentrified realities, all within a few minutes walk of each other.
A fire-damaged "hijacked building" (illegally occupied squat) in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa. After a steep decline in the 1990s, the inner city is now a peculiar mix of interspersed working class, down-and-out and gentrified realities, all within a few minutes walk of each other.
Sfiso, a drug addict, using a visibly dirty shared needle to inject himslef with "nyaope" on a street in Hillbrow, an inner-city neighbourhood in Johannesburg, South Africa that is plagued by drugs. A crude form of heroin reputedly cut with anything from anti-retrovirals to rat poison to pool cleaner, nyaope is cheap (about R20/ $1.70 per "round") and devastatingly addictive - it produces a brief high, but then leaves the user with vicious withdrawal symptoms, constantly searching for the next high. It is said that a single dose is enough to result in addiction.
Sfiso, a drug addict, using a visibly dirty shared needle to inject himslef with "nyaope" on a street in Hillbrow, an inner-city neighbourhood in Johannesburg, South Africa that is plagued by drugs. A crude form of heroin reputedly cut with anything from anti-retrovirals to rat poison to pool cleaner, nyaope is cheap (about R20/ $1.70 per "round") and devastatingly addictive - it produces a brief high, but then leaves the user with vicious withdrawal symptoms, constantly searching for the next high. It is said that a single dose is enough to result in addiction.
On Sunday afternoons the weights room of the Hillbrow Boxing Club in Johannesburg, South Africa is rented out to a Zionist church who hold a spirited prayer meeting.
On Sunday afternoons the weights room of the Hillbrow Boxing Club in Johannesburg, South Africa is rented out to a Zionist church who hold a spirited prayer meeting.
Siyakudumisa Vapi, a licensed boxer hoping to make it as a professional, in training at the Hillbrow Boxing Club in Johannesburg, South Africa on 23 February 2015. Vapi is training for a fight against the third-ranked fighter in the national featherweight division; if he wins it wil bring him closer to his objective of challenging for the national title, and being able to make a decent living from boxing. He says boxing pulled him away from the streets and bad company, and gave him discipline.
Siyakudumisa Vapi, a licensed boxer hoping to make it as a professional, in training at the Hillbrow Boxing Club in Johannesburg, South Africa on 23 February 2015. Vapi is training for a fight against the third-ranked fighter in the national featherweight division; if he wins it wil bring him closer to his objective of challenging for the national title, and being able to make a decent living from boxing. He says boxing pulled him away from the streets and bad company, and gave him discipline.
Trainer James Ike offers stern words of advice to Angel Harrison (left) and Yomi Shokunbi (right) between rounds of sparring at the Hillbrow Boxing Club on 20 February 2015. Both boxers are aspiring professionals, hoping to qualify for their boxing licences in a few weeks time.
Trainer James Ike offers stern words of advice to Angel Harrison (left) and Yomi Shokunbi (right) between rounds of sparring at the Hillbrow Boxing Club on 20 February 2015. Both boxers are aspiring professionals, hoping to qualify for their boxing licences in a few weeks time.
Highrise, a 19-storey apartment tower overlooking a park in Hillbrow, an inner-city neighbourhood in Johannesburg, South Africa, was one the exclusive domain of wealthy white South Africans during the apartheid era. Today, it has a reputation for being the residence of choice for Nigerian drug dealers who operate in the park across the street.
Highrise, a 19-storey apartment tower overlooking a park in Hillbrow, an inner-city neighbourhood in Johannesburg, South Africa, was one the exclusive domain of wealthy white South Africans during the apartheid era. Today, it has a reputation for being the residence of choice for Nigerian drug dealers who operate in the park across the street.
Half a car serves as an advertisement for a motor spares business in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa. After a steep decline in the 1990s, the inner city is now a peculiar mix of interspersed working class, down-and-out and gentrified realities, all within a few minutes walk of each other.
Half a car serves as an advertisement for a motor spares business in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa. After a steep decline in the 1990s, the inner city is now a peculiar mix of interspersed working class, down-and-out and gentrified realities, all within a few minutes walk of each other.
Joe Eades, who is coached by Julie Tshabalala, South African women's welterweight and middleweight champion, shadow boxing next to Tshabalala's car as they wait for an amateur boxing tournament to begin in Cosmo City, a large low-income housing development 40 minutes north of Johannesburg, South Africa. It will be Eades' first fight.
Joe Eades, who is coached by Julie Tshabalala, South African women's welterweight and middleweight champion, shadow boxing next to Tshabalala's car as they wait for an amateur boxing tournament to begin in Cosmo City, a large low-income housing development 40 minutes north of Johannesburg, South Africa. It will be Eades' first fight.
An old photograph of George Khosi, founder of the Hillbrow Boxing Club, annotated with his boxing record. After gunshot injuries put an end to his own boxing career, Khosi started the club to provide discipline, camaraderie and an activity away from the streets for young people from the community, as well as to provide a training ground for upcoming professional boxers. The club operates in the donated space of the forecourt of a disused petrol station in Hillbrow, one of Johannesburg, South Africa's most notorious neighbourhoods.
An old photograph of George Khosi, founder of the Hillbrow Boxing Club, annotated with his boxing record. After gunshot injuries put an end to his own boxing career, Khosi started the club to provide discipline, camaraderie and an activity away from the streets for young people from the community, as well as to provide a training ground for upcoming professional boxers. The club operates in the donated space of the forecourt of a disused petrol station in Hillbrow, one of Johannesburg, South Africa's most notorious neighbourhoods.
On Wednesday evenings George Khosi, founder of the Hillbrow Boxing Club, runs a prayer meeting in the club's basement. After gunshot injuries from a home invasion put an end to his own boxing career, Khosi started the club to provide discipline, camaraderie and an activity away from the streets for young people from the community, as well as to provide a training ground for upcoming professional boxers. The club operates in the donated space of the forecourt of a disused petrol station in Hillbrow, one of Johannesburg, South Africa's most notorious neighbourhoods.
On Wednesday evenings George Khosi, founder of the Hillbrow Boxing Club, runs a prayer meeting in the club's basement. After gunshot injuries from a home invasion put an end to his own boxing career, Khosi started the club to provide discipline, camaraderie and an activity away from the streets for young people from the community, as well as to provide a training ground for upcoming professional boxers. The club operates in the donated space of the forecourt of a disused petrol station in Hillbrow, one of Johannesburg, South Africa's most notorious neighbourhoods.
Simo on his way up to the roof a "hijacked building" (illegally occupied squat) he lives in in Hillbrow, one of Johannesburg, South Africa's most notorious neighbourhoods, on 23 February 2015. The building has neither electricity nor running water, and refuse is piled up outside the walls. Simo says he has been living here for 16 years.
Simo on his way up to the roof a "hijacked building" (illegally occupied squat) he lives in in Hillbrow, one of Johannesburg, South Africa's most notorious neighbourhoods, on 23 February 2015. The building has neither electricity nor running water, and refuse is piled up outside the walls. Simo says he has been living here for 16 years.
Hillbrow, neighbourhood in inner-city Johannesburg, is known for poverty and over-crowding. A street corner noticeboard serves to advertise spaces available for rent - a sitting room, a bedroom, a bed, a door space...
Hillbrow, neighbourhood in inner-city Johannesburg, is known for poverty and over-crowding. A street corner noticeboard serves to advertise spaces available for rent - a sitting room, a bedroom, a bed, a door space...
George Khosi (centre), founder of the Hillbrow Boxing Club, with clients during a private boxing class on the rooftop of the 12 Decades Art Hotel in Maboneng, a gentrified downtown Johannesburg precinct . Private lessons such as these help fund Khosi's voluntary activities - free boxing lessons for neighbourhood children, training for aspiring professional boxers.
George Khosi (centre), founder of the Hillbrow Boxing Club, with clients during a private boxing class on the rooftop of the 12 Decades Art Hotel in Maboneng, a gentrified downtown Johannesburg precinct . Private lessons such as these help fund Khosi's voluntary activities - free boxing lessons for neighbourhood children, training for aspiring professional boxers.
Clients of George Khosi, founder of the Hillbrow Boxing Club, preparing for a private boxing class on the rooftop of the 12 Decades Art Hotel in Maboneng, a gentrified downtown Johannesburg precinct . Private lessons such as these help fund Khosi's voluntary activities - free boxing lessons for neighbourhood children, training for aspiring professional boxers.
Clients of George Khosi, founder of the Hillbrow Boxing Club, preparing for a private boxing class on the rooftop of the 12 Decades Art Hotel in Maboneng, a gentrified downtown Johannesburg precinct . Private lessons such as these help fund Khosi's voluntary activities - free boxing lessons for neighbourhood children, training for aspiring professional boxers.
Dancers of the Joburg Ballet during a rehearsal at the Ballet's studio in Braamfontein, an inner-city neighbourhood in Johannesburg, South Africa. In a contrast that is characteristic of inner-city Johannesburg, Braamfontein is only a few minutes' walk from the poverty, overcrowding and drugs of Hillbrow.
Dancers of the Joburg Ballet during a rehearsal at the Ballet's studio in Braamfontein, an inner-city neighbourhood in Johannesburg, South Africa. In a contrast that is characteristic of inner-city Johannesburg, Braamfontein is only a few minutes' walk from the poverty, overcrowding and drugs of Hillbrow.
Julie Tshabalala, South African Womens welterweight and middleweight champion, stretching in Johannesburg, South Africa on 26 February 2015. She won her first championship while under the tutelage of George Khosi at the Hillbrow Boxing Club. She says that promoters tend to focus on mens' boxing, and that it's harder for women to find sponsors.
Julie Tshabalala, South African Womens welterweight and middleweight champion, stretching in Johannesburg, South Africa on 26 February 2015. She won her first championship while under the tutelage of George Khosi at the Hillbrow Boxing Club. She says that promoters tend to focus on mens' boxing, and that it's harder for women to find sponsors.
Though she now trains in a more upmarket gym, Julie Tshabalala (left), South African Womens welterweight and middleweight champion, won her first championship while under the tutelage of George Khosi at the Hillbrow Boxing Club in Johannesburg, South Africa. She says that promoters tend to focus on mens' boxing, and that it's harder for women to find sponsors.
Though she now trains in a more upmarket gym, Julie Tshabalala (left), South African Womens welterweight and middleweight champion, won her first championship while under the tutelage of George Khosi at the Hillbrow Boxing Club in Johannesburg, South Africa. She says that promoters tend to focus on mens' boxing, and that it's harder for women to find sponsors.
Young fighters during an amateur boxing tournament in Cosmo City, a large low-income housing development 40 minutes north of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Young fighters during an amateur boxing tournament in Cosmo City, a large low-income housing development 40 minutes north of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Match officials rush to stabilise a young fighter who was knocked out during an amateur boxing tournament in Cosmo City, a large low-income housing development 40 minutes north of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Match officials rush to stabilise a young fighter who was knocked out during an amateur boxing tournament in Cosmo City, a large low-income housing development 40 minutes north of Johannesburg, South Africa.
George Khosi, founder of the Hillbrow Boxing Club, relaxing with a group of young boxing enthusiasts at the end of an afternoon boxing training session in Johannesburg, South Africa on 20 February 2015. Located in Hillbrow, one of the city's most notorious neighbourhoods, the club offers a de facto after school program for neighbourhood youngsters, providing camaraderie, discipline and an activity away from the streets. Some of the children who started out this way have gone on to become national champions.
George Khosi, founder of the Hillbrow Boxing Club, relaxing with a group of young boxing enthusiasts at the end of an afternoon boxing training session in Johannesburg, South Africa on 20 February 2015. Located in Hillbrow, one of the city's most notorious neighbourhoods, the club offers a de facto after school program for neighbourhood youngsters, providing camaraderie, discipline and an activity away from the streets. Some of the children who started out this way have gone on to become national champions.
Yomi Shokunbi, a Nigerian living in South Africa, looks out at the street while doing push-ups at the Hillbrow Boxing Club on 20 February 2015. Currently a model and fitness trainer, he hopes to qualify for his boxing license and become a professional heavyweight boxer.
Yomi Shokunbi, a Nigerian living in South Africa, looks out at the street while doing push-ups at the Hillbrow Boxing Club on 20 February 2015. Currently a model and fitness trainer, he hopes to qualify for his boxing license and become a professional heavyweight boxer.

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