News & Politics

Photographer Josh Cogan Goes Behind the Scenes With DC Boxing Star Dusty Hernandez-Harrison (Video)

“We fell in love with Dusty’s story and knew it had to be told.”

Screen shot from Dusty + Buddy.

When photographer Josh Cogan met Dusty Hernandez-Harrison and his father, Buddy Harrison, on assignment for Washingtonian’s February 2014 article “In A Ring of His Own,” he stepped into a story—and a corner of DC—he’d never imagined really existed. “When I first saw the gym, I was amazed at the entire scene I had no awareness of,” says Cogan, who sees himself as an anthropologist as much as a maker of images. “I have always been absorbed by how DC doesn’t know itself.”

The article tells how Buddy, a former boxer and ex-convict, devoted himself to training Dusty to fight to keep his son from following his trail to jail—and to achieve the dream Buddy never realized. Despite the father-son tensions that almost ripped them apart, Buddy succeeded in making Dusty into a contender. At 20, Dusty is 23-0 and rising in the ranks of welterweight boxers. He’s also developing a deep fan base in DC, where he was born and still lives.

While shooting the pair for Washingtonian, Cogan realized their story had the makings of a film. He introduced Dusty and Buddy to his friends at Run Riot Films. “Since we met last year,” says Run Riot director Dave Adams, “we fell in love with Dusty’s story and knew it had to be told.”

Run Riot and Cogan have produced two documentaries, Dusty + Buddy, about their relationship and common dream of a championship; and a short titled Voices, in which trainers, friends, and family talk about Dusty and Buddy against the backdrop of training sessions at Old School Boxing, Buddy’s gym on the grounds of Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George’s County.

“I’ve never seen nothing better, about Dusty or anywhere in boxing,” says Buddy Harrison.

Cogan says the videos are examples of how a simple photo shoot, and a resulting friendship, grows into something bigger. “I often serve as the bridge,” he tells Washingtonian. “I bring groups together.”

Dusty Harrison will try to keep his unblemished record on November 1, when he’s scheduled to take on veteran boxer Michael Clark. “It’s a pretty big step up for Dusty,” says Buddy Harrison.

Watch Voices below:

Watch Dusty + Buddy below: