Catch The Fair One: Boxer Kali KO Reis fights for indigenous rights

“I hope to be the frontrunner for people to be proud of who they are … in sports or whatever they do,” the world champion told IndieWire.

With a spectacular and eye-catching stage, the jump from professional wrestler to movie star has become quite popular. Just look at The Rock, John Cena and Dave Bautista. However, it is rare for professional boxers to make the same conversion and even fewer women. But world champion Kali “KO” Reis, a dual-spirit indigenous fighter and a vocal indigenous rights defender, is no stranger to breaking ground.

Reis is the star and co-writer of “Catch the Fair One, ” A new film sheds light on the missing and killed indigenous women (MMIW) movement. Directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka and executive produced by Darren Aronofsky, “Catch the Fair One” is a gripping and tight drama about this overlooked issue, enhanced by a ground-breaking performance. from Reis.

Wladyka found Reis on Instagram in 2017 and invited her to be his main and creative collaborator after witnessing her fight and an initial screen test. “From the jump, he’s really self-aware that this is an important story to tell, but it doesn’t have to be his story to tell,” Reis told IndieWire. “And he wanted to really get my perspective from me and my views from other families and talk to different communities about this. … I put a lot of effort into the characters, the themes, the colors, the placement, and it’s really an honor for me to be a natural artist. ”

Reis comes from a musical family, in addition to painting and drawing, she also considers boxing as her art. Her visual style is evident in her numerous tattoos and face piercings, including her memorable cheek piercing, which sparkles in her warm smile. She and Wladyka are connected because they are both of mixed race; Reis’ native ancestry includes descent from the Seaconke, Wampanoag and Cherokee tribes, and she also has family from the Cape Verde Islands. Wladyka has Polish and Japanese heritage.

“The huge connection point for us is the fact that we are both races. The emotions and experiences we had growing up and not feeling like we belonged in a certain group drew us closer together,” the director said in a statement. “Another important aspect, which became the basis of our story, was the similarities in our family circumstances. We both have strong mothers and deep love for our siblings.”

Potassium "KO" Reis in "Catch the Fair One"

“Grace fair”


The character Kali in “Catch the Fair One” was clearly inspired by Reis, even taking her name. She plays a boxer whose career is put on hold after her sister goes missing. Twisted around in grief, she embarks on a dangerous solo quest to find her sister. Kali manages to infiltrate a local crime network that kidnaps and traffics indigenous women and girls, leading her on a path of blood and revenge. While she earns some measure of justice, the film’s bleakly ambiguous ending offers little comfort or grip.

“The purpose is just to bring awareness, not in any form or form to bring about an answer to the problem, but to remind and let people know that this is a serious problem that really does happen. today,” she said. “We didn’t want to be your typical villain… We wanted to make it a little more creepy. These are your ordinary people who are always smiling and even have families. I think it’s even more horrifying to know that the guy next door is hiding this big secret.”

Although it’s unclear if the final scene is real or imaginary, the film ends with Kali triumphantly returning to the boxing ring. Filmed at and in partnership with Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, Kali’s entrance is surrounded by a vibrant song and dance composed by members of the local Seneca tribe. It’s the most colorful scene in the movie, and it’s a powerful and joyful celebration of Native American traditions.

Reis participates in all her battles this way, which gives one a sense of her opponents. “We have local people from the tribes, because we are on their land, bless us with what they want to do. I never tell them what to sing, I invite them to do this with me and whatever they feel like, even if they want to dance, is what we do. I never knew, I just stepped out into the ring and it was my honor,” Reis said.

The pride she brings to boxing is also evident in her latest career choice. “Catch the Fair One” is both grounding and uplifting by Reis, her impressive performances and the positivity and indigenous knowledge she brings as a housekeeper. Literature.

I have always had my culture and pride in my heritage at the forefront of my boxing,” she said. “Especially on a mainstream stage, you don’t see anything Native American based. So I take the opportunity to socialize with the community before going to war. I hope to be the frontrunner for people to be proud of who they are, by getting involved in sports or whatever they do. “

“Catch the Fair One” premieres at the IFC Center on Friday, February 11th.

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Olly Dawes

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