Welcome to Judo Club Fall Ababacar, St. Louis, Senegal.
While staying in the beautiful city of St Louis in Senegal, Christopher Pugmire stumbled upon a dojo founded by Cheikh Oumar Fall, a former member of the national judo squad.
Christopher was immediately struck by the gentle strength of Cheikh Oumar. Here was a man who had given up a successful sports career to dedicate himself to helping children.
You see, this dojo is open to all local kids, including Talibés (the boys in football shirts).
Talibés are boys who have been sent to a religious teacher, or Marabout. Humility is central to their training. Corruption in this system is widespread, with kids often being forced to beg on the streets to earn money for the Marabouts. If they don’t bring back enough money they may be beaten, or deprived of food. This dojo offers them a structure and discipline that they may not otherwise have in their lives.
With Oumar’s permission, Christopher spent an afternoon photographing his “little lions”. The next day he went back with prints for all the kids.
That was when he had the idea to do something with these images.
So far, more than 500 judokas have been trained - learning discipline, focus and respect. Some have even competed and won at national level.
Oumar funds everything from his own pocket.
All equipment is donated. The space is provided by city hall.
Some kids have uniforms, other simply share.
“What I love about these portraits is their honest simplicity” reveals Christopher. “The kids look directly into the camera, inviting us to consider their story. Innocence and determination wrapped in makeshift white uniforms, all beautifully contrasted against the pastel-coloured space.”
Christopher’s prints are for sale all month in The Formery Space.
All proceeds from the sale of these prints goes towards the dojo.
Come see the event
More about the artist
Christopher Pugmire takes nice photos of interesting people.
Chris was born in England, but grew up kind of French and now lives in Amsterdam.
This ongoing identity crisis, in his words, is best dealt with by photographing other people.
He is interested in humanity, stories and tribes. He aims to capture people in an honest, non-judgemental way, trying his best to be invisible behind the camera. But his obsession lies with ex-USSR countries.
With no formal photographic training, Chris developed his eye while working as an art director.
Now he’s bought a decent camera and follows his nose.