One of the really remarkable people I worked with in MMA was the Brazillian photographer named Levy Ribeiro. The person that referred Levy to me emailed me in advance, ” When you meet him don’t be surprised. He’s really short; a dwarf.” And so he was. He was also a fine photographer and a big asset.
Levy loved MMA and its athletes. He’d been around the fight scene in Brazil for a long time and everybody knew him in the gyms. He was small and dexterous and could dart around in between the fighters when they trained in the close quarters of the cramped Rio gyms. I watched him move around the mats while 200-pound men hurled each other back and forth, crashing loudly. He’d get as close as possible, snapping pictures, occasionally darting out the way, just in the nick of time if a giant body came hurtling toward him. He always photographed the fighters from angles that made them seem large and heroic and I really liked his work.
The fighters in Rio accepted Levy but the people in the street were different. They’d gawk, point and snicker openly at him. He was unfazed, always plodding doggedly ahead, camera around his neck, impervious to the dozen petty indignities he surely endured on a daily basis. I grew to admire him. He illustrated how in the taxonomy of courage, the grand gestures and scintillating victories of the fighters he photographed are classed beside the quieter tests of strength of men like him; private displays of valor known only to themselves.