Victory’s expansive view of sport
There are a lot of pictures in this post. Scroll through the galleries below and you’ll see they’re packed with great big magazine spreads that showcase gorgeous sports photography.
Believe it or not this is my edited selection — the trouble is that virtually every time you turn the page of Victory Journal you come across another instantly iconic or arresting image, so there’s just a huge amount of photography and illustration to choose from. (I decided to focus on just the photography to help narrow things down a bit, but the illustration is great too.)
I love the selection of images in the magazine, but even more than that I love what they say about Victory Journal’s concept of what sport is. There are the classic images of American sports like basketball, football and baseball, but there are also pictures of radio controlled car racing, pigeon breeders and ballroom.
Regardless of the sport that’s being showcased, the images are all full of the power, drama, excitement and obsession that fuels the best sporting encounters. I’ve pulled out just four stories below, but there’s way more to discover in the magazine, so if you like the look of this overview I hope you’ll pick up a copy for yourself.
“You don’t normally think of photographers as having mythic origin stories. But very little about Walter Ioss Jr.’s career has been typical. Ioss has shot some of the most iconic pictures in the history of sports, and redefined the look and feel of sports photography across eras. In his best work, his subjects somehow look more like themselves than they even do in person: more glorious, more vulnerable, more alive. The effect is that with time, his photographs only seem to gain a sense of urgency.”
Telling the story of Ioss Jr.’s self-taught origins in sports photography, writer Eric Nusbaum then speaks to the man himself to get the inside story on creating some of the world’s most iconic sports images, working with legends like Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali and Kobe Bryant.
“RC cars might be a lot smaller than traditional race cars, and they’d probably break if you stepped on them, but, when they’re going at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour, they still pack a hell of a punch. That’s enough compact power to bring a loyal group of riders together on the weekend for some remote control flexing, bonding, and good-natured ribbing.”
Shot at, “a loading dock near Baltimore, Maryland,” this series of photographs shows the racing enthusiasts of Baltimore’s 2 Stroke Mafia, and I love the brilliantly, ridiculously overblown obsession they pour into their machines.
“In November of 2020, a Belgian racing pigeon named New Kim was sold for $1.9 million to a Chinese fan. Ten years before that, the record price for a racing pigeon was a tenth of that. The rise of globalization, conspicuous consumption, and gambling has meant that pigeon racing and breeding are now, at least in China, part of a life of luxury.”
Looking beyond the mega prices and luxury trappings, this piece focuses on a group of Canadian pigeon racers and their birds, and I think they might be my favourite pictures in the whole magazine. Combining weirdness and grace, the pictures show the birds up close and give a real sense of why people get so excited about them.
“Ballroom is more than just a showcase for elaborate couture, gravity-defying dance moves, and runway walks. It’s a full-out support system for queer black and brown youth. Historically, balls were underground places where queer people could explore their gender identity, find community, and push the limits of fashion, dance, and culture.”
Photographed at a drag ball hosted in Charlotte, North Carolina last summer, these images are a record of one of the first ballroom events permitted after the end of Covid restrictions. Photographers Thomas Wolfe Northcut and Katelyn Mooney do a great job of showcasing the crazy excess and sequinned glamour of the event, but also communicate a sense of excitement and warmth that seems to come from people getting together again after a long time apart.