As one of the Island’s most promising professional boxers, Nikki is an inspiration to a generation of young Bermudian athletes. Growing up his greatest opponent was himself. After losing his mother and father before the age of six, as well as two siblings, Nikki struggled in his early years, battling with depression and delinquency. His saving grave came after discovering boxing in his teenage years, and thanks to a few positive role models he’s stayed on a positive path.
I’ve known Nikki for some time and had the privilege of filming him a few years ago for a “What I Love About Bermuda”, a Bermuda Tourism Authority ad campaign. I describe him as a bit of a quiet storm – he doesn’t say much, but when he’s in his element he becomes a force to reckon with.
Very often in Bermuda, photographers look to position people in front of beautiful beaches or scenic backdrops, but for Nikki I felt the shoot needed to have a more grassroots and organic feel. Nikki comes from a neighbourhood very often left out of the spotlight, so we headed back to his community in Ord Road, Warwick to get a more genuine glimpse into the man behind the legend. It was amazing and truly inspiring to see how many people went out of their way to speak to Nikki and praise him for his accomplishments.
He takes each compliment with humility, maybe even a bit of hesitation, which is far from common in the world of entertainment and sports (think Conor McGregor, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, to name a few).
One of the standout moments from our time together happened when a guy from the neighbourhood pulled up to us on his motorbike, wearing a t-shirt from Nikki’s recently released Fresh & Hungry line. He was so excited and proud to be supporting Nikki, so we took a few frames with Nikki and his friend chilling in their old stomping grounds. The final images were some of my favourite photos showcasing both of his signature traits – strength and humility. The shoot was a reminder that our upbringing, no matter how simple, doesn’t determine how high we can rise.