Benghazi, Libya


Photographer: Essam Al-Fetori

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

In the late 1970s, Suleiman Elshwihdi boxed for Libya at tournaments as far away as Venezuela and Nigeria. But in 1980, at the age of twenty, his career came to an end when the country’s then ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, banned the sport. It was only after Gaddafi’s downfall in 2011 that boxing reemerged from the shadows. In his hometown of Benghazi, Suleiman gathered together some old and battered equipment in a makeshift gym and began to train a new generation of fighters. Boxing still has no official support in Libya. To cover the costs of tournaments, young fighters collect donations from relatives and friends. Suleiman’s dream is once again to see Libya’s flag at international boxing tournaments and Libyan boxers winning medals.