When you think of MMA fighters you are likely to envision beefy men who have a whole extra set of muscles on top of their shoulders, or perhaps what you’ve learnt about the sport from film and television. But as Miikka Pirinen captures in his fascinating series Fight League Kids there is a whole separate sphere of the sport that caters to juvenile fighters and their families.
Miikka Pirinen, a freelance photographer based in Helsinki and who works as part of the Helsinki Street photography collective first heard about this sub-strata of MMA fighting after watching an online video of a group of kids fighting at a competition in California. He was keen to learn more about what motivates both the kids and their families to take part in the sport, so he travelled to gyms and competitions in Arizona and California to meet the contenders.
The photographs he collected after spending time with the fighters, the trainers and family members who support them are slightly bewildering and intriguing. Capturing the excitement and exasperation of onlookers, as well as the commitment and at times vulnerability of the child ‘cage-fighters’ the series seeks to highlight the different activities that kids can participate in, not just the traditional set of extra-curricular sports.