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Ringside Treat

Since dumping a sales career to pick up the camera, Ed Mulholland has photographed professional boxing, capturing all the blood, sweat, and tears.

Ed Mulholland, who had been a salesperson for a health care company, went to a boxing match in 2002 toting the camera that had been a graduation gift from his parents. He got some interesting shots, which quickly caught the attention of magazine photo editors. Mulholland, pictured in the inset, also enjoys shooting mixed martial arts as well as professional football (New York Jets) and ice hockey (New Jersey Devils). Photography by Ed Mulholland

The only time Ed Mulholland didn’t wear his scarlet R cap ringside at a boxing match, the referee turned to him before the bell and silently mouthed, “Where’s the cap?” Boxing fans watching matches on HBO have noticed the photographer with the big block R above the brim—as well as his sports photography.

A former salesman for a health care company following graduation, Mulholland RC’93 attended a boxing match with his brother in 2002, toting the camera that had been a graduation gift from his parents. With fourth-row seats, Mulholland came away with some arresting images, which he submitted to a boxing website. Next thing he knew, photo editors were asking him, once he was credentialed, to cover bouts. On assignment for only his third fight the following year, he shot the match between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward, voted the fight of the year, in large part because of the explosive ninth round, since christened the round of the century.

Within the same month in 2006, Electronic Arts selected a photo of his for the cover of a video game and Mulholland got his first job covering a fight for HBO. He vividly remembers peering into the viewfinder and thinking “don’t screw this up.” He didn’t. His relationship with HBO led to his first photo of the year award from the Boxing Writers Association, a shot of a victorious Miguel Cotto.

The photograph revealed Mulholland’s signature strength: tightly focused photographs that, in a single image, capture the essential story and the drama of a bout. Positioned ringside with his Canon Mark IV and deploying several lenses, he comes prepared for whatever may unfold, having done his homework on the athletes. The results of his art are not happenstance.

Although boxing is his first love, Mulholland enjoys shooting other sports, namely the mixed martial arts, which is promoted by the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization; the New York Jets of the National Football League; and the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League (for ESPN and USA Today Sports Media Group). When not on assignment during football season, he attends Rutgers games—not as photographer, but as fan. When he can’t make a game because of his work, he checks Twitter for football updates between rounds.

If donning the block R cap makes Mulholland a university ambassador, so much the better, he feels. He wears it out of pride—and for what the university gave him: a great education, unforgettable experiences, and opportunity. He wears the cap for another reason: the brim protects him from ringside blood and sweat.
                                                                                                                                                 — Louis P. Masur