He’s Got Game: Meet Nine of Sports’ Newest Muses
Get’cha Head in the Game!
Who says you can’t balance sports and fashion? As seen in the pages of VMAN 48, we meet nine new subjects who are going for the gold as they discover the true art of athleticism.
COLE ALVES | SURFER
Cole Alves is a surfer born, fittingly, in Oahu, Hawaii. The skilled wave rider still remembers the first time he got on a board. “I was just two! It was in Waikiki, with my dad. I’ll never forget it.” Growing up in and around the crystalline blue waters and mountainous waves of the Islands, Alves’ aptitude on a surfboard was allowed to flourish. With his family’s blessing and support, he was able to travel all over the globe competing, riding some of the toughest and most daunting crests of H2O out there. And after years of competing, Alves won first place at the Vans-sponsored World Surf League 2018 Pro Junior competition. “I feel like this is my breakthrough event,” he told a local Hawaiian news source just after he had won. Now living in L.A. and focusing on both the waves and a photographer’s camera, Alves has been utilizing his surfer dude good looks as a model—like in these pages—and as a social media influencer.
On TikTok, Alves now has more than 1.8 million followers who check in regularly for his updates. The account is littered with clips featuring Alves and his friends surfing, chilling at home, and of course, dancing. Alves also uses the platform to share his (usually quick) self-takes and general life musings, as any active guy with an active brain would. And he has surfing to thank for much of this bounty. “It [surfing] has definitely cut into things like school and other activities I could be doing,” Alves admits. “It’s hard to focus on your homework or extracurriculars when you’re traveling around the world all the time. But I wouldn’t change it for anything!”
MILES CHAMLEY-WATSON | FENCER
Miles Chamley-Watson was only 11 years old when a foil was first put into his eager hands (a foil is a thrusting weapon used in fencing, with a maximum weight of 500 grams). “I was a bad kid,” Chamley-Watson explains. “As punishment, I had to pick up an extracurricular activity after school. It was either fencing, badminton, or tennis. And I chose fencing because I thought swords were cool.” Although he was competitive early on and did well in cricket, football, and rugby, the sport of swords truly stuck with him. “It was love at first sight.” Chamley-Watson spent years acquiring the skills needed to compete in the ancient art of fencing, a sport played all over the world which demands strength, stamina, and some of the quickest reflexes in the athletic world. His dedication to those skills manifesting success, he went on to win a plethora of duels and awards, including at the Pan American Championship, at the 2013 Individual World Championship, at the 2016 Olympics, and at the 2019 world championship.
“I love the intimacy of fencing,” he explains. “The pure, one-on-one nature of the combat sport. I’m always finding new techniques and new moves, every day. It’s so beautiful.” Through fencing, the decorated swordsman has toured the world and met many incredible people; but he’s also been making major waves in fashion. Having been shot in commercial campaigns for years, Chamley-Watson can also take the title as the first male athlete to be in a women’s Nike campaign (starring alongside, none other than, FKA Twigs). But to him, fashion is an arena just as exciting as those filled with bleachers and rows of cheering fans. “I love modeling because it gives me a different kind of rush, a different kind of freedom,” he tells us. “And what I think the industry needs is more real people with real stories.”
COLE MICEK | BASKETBALL PLAYER
Filipino-American basketball player and model Cole Micek was only two when his dad put a basketball in his hands. “We have home videos of me as a toddler running around making shots on my Little Tikes hoop,” Micek tells us. “My dad was a college coach, and I remember going to all of his games. I wanted to be just like his players one day!” Micek did indeed fulfill his dream and went on to play basketball in college. He was also scouted soon thereafter by Wilhelmina Models, all while working toward his degree in psychology. “I graduated with honors,” he says proudly. “I believe that so much of athletic performance is reliant upon our ability to maintain a healthy state of mind.”
Micek then moved to L.A. to begin his multi-prong career in earnest: he now competes in tournaments internationally and is focusing more on fashion, including last year’s BOSS x NBA collaboration. Micek is happy to be a part of the wave of fashionable basketball players taking over the new century. “Players are treating the pregame tunnels like their own runway shows these days! I’ve been into earth tones and vintage vibes lately. I love when I get to put on a nice suit, and I’m always rocking something fresh on my feet.”
Micek is also a TikTok star, with more than half a million followers watching his free throws, dances, and everyday antics. “I think creating content definitely keeps things fun and exciting,” he admits. “I’ve learned that not everything has to be taken so seriously. And it reminds me that you can do multiple things outside your sport and still excel at whatever they are.”
ERIC PRIEST | BOXER
Celebrated Korean-American middleweight boxer and model Eric Priest has the whole world in front of him, but the young man actually hails from an unassuming background in Middle America. “I grew up in Kansas,” he tells us, “and my father was ex-military. My mother was an immigrant from Korea. Very humble beginnings, I would say.” Priest was pushed early on into combat sports by his father, a former member in the United States Navy Special Operations and a firm believer in athletics and the dedication expected to participate in them. By the age of 10, Priest was already finding his passion for boxing—and soon after, his aptitude for it. “At about 13, I realized I had fast hands and a natural edge for boxing,” he recalls, “so I pretty much walked away from every other sport right then and there and decided to focus on my training.”
Priest competed extensively for years, becoming known as the passionate fighter with disarmingly good looks. Then, at the age of 18, he won the coveted Kansas Golden Gloves title in the Elite Men’s division. He was then quickly picked up by a famous boxing coach, who helped set the young champion up for a new chapter in his life. Currently living in California, Priest’s achievements in the ring have won him an Adidas athletics ambassadorship, while his jawline and excellent disposition got him signed to Wilhelmina Models in L.A. The world of 2022 is truly Priest’s oyster, and he knows it. “I’m excited to begin to see my career really unfold,” he says. “I recently switched trainers and gyms”—a huge deal in the world of boxing—“and I’m working on an NFT, and now with modeling, I’m ready to learn new things and see how my skills develop as I move forward.”
MARCOS MONTOYA | SKATEBOARDER
Marcos Montoya was raised in Broward County, Florida, one of the three counties that make up the expansive greater Miami-Dade area. Known for tropical year-round warmth, and plenty of smooth, flat, concrete surfaces to practice on, skateboarding culture was and is strong in those hot streets. “I got my first skateboard when I was eight,” Montoya says, “and I’ve been skating ever since.” A natural overachiever, Montoya was not content to be only an athlete, and got himself signed to Next Models to pursue his goals in fashion. But he still points to his sport and the years of training he’s undertaken to compete as he does, as the impetus for that reach for more than what he already knew. “Skating has opened so many doors for me,” he says. “So training doesn’t even feel like a regimen. It just feels like a lifestyle!”
Currently living in L.A., the fashionable skater dude has found success both as a professional athlete and now as a stylish model. His self-refined aesthetic has garnered him a thriving social media following of well over 80K fans on Instagram, where his audience can watch the young pro skate all over the world and attend fashion shows and events. He was even seated for the July 2021 Off-White runway show in Paris. “I’ve always had an interest in fashion,” he admits. “And if I weren’t skating, I’d be a fashion designer!” Looking towards the future, Montoya is gearing up for more competitions and more modeling and is excited for the rest of the year. “I hope 2022 will be filled with more blessings and positive memories!” he says. And perhaps something more from him, something else he’s willing to share with the world? “I’ve also got a few surprises for you guys! So stay tuned.”
DAVID BENNETT | BREAKDANCER
Like many dancers, shades of David Bennett’s spirit for the art form appeared early on. “When I was a kid I loved watching dance movies, action movies, kung-fu movies. Superheroes,” he says. “I always thought about the way the actors and performers could move their bodies, the flips and spins they did…it always fascinated me.” Then, in high school, Bennett found breakdancing, the answer to his childhood aspirations. “I met a kid who took it as seriously as I did. I started taking the bus after school to his place to learn how to break properly,” he says. “Breaking took over my life pretty quickly, because I found something I was really good at.” After years of training, Bennett was chosen by the Harlem Globetrotters to be a main performer in their traveling halftime show.
The young dancer was quickly introduced to more of the world than he had ever known. “When I was young I thought being an airplane steward could be fun,” he says. “Because I would be able to see the world.” And after the tour ended, Bennett used the earnings he’d saved up and moved himself to Los Angeles, where he currently lives and works. Now signed to Next Models, thanks to his steamy good looks and fierce training schedule, Bennett is still highly aware of how important his fashion is to the dancing community. “Style is one of the most important things in breakdancing,” he explains. “The way you present yourself when you get on that floor says a lot about you as a dancer and an athlete. I see someone looking fresh and I can’t wait to see them get down! So I always make sure I look dope. You never know who’s going to be there and who might see you!”
ANGEL BARRIENTES + CHAVEZ BARRIENTES | BOXERS
Twin brothers Angel and Chavez Barrientes are a boxing duo taking the sport—and now fashion—by storm. Born in Hawaii, the pair grew up idolizing fighters like Manny Pacquaio and Julio César Chávez, fighters who the twins saw as athletic representatives of their Filipino and Latino heritages, respectively. “Not only was Pacquaio a champ in the ring, he is the people’s champ of the Philippines,” Angel relates. “A big inspiration.” At just two, the pair moved with their family to Las Vegas. “Our dad, who is also our coach, opened a gym soon after moving,” the twins say.
“He was always a boxing fan so he started us young. We were around seven years old when we first got into it. By the time we were eight, we were already in amateur competitions all over the place.” Having a twin compete in the same arena can be a challenge, but also a boon, according to the twins. “There’s a quote by British boxer Frank Bruno: ‘Boxing is the toughest and loneliest sport in the world,’” states Chavez. “Which is true. It’s not like football or baseball where you have team members to count on.
It is you alone in the ring up against your opponent.” “But,” Angel chimes in, “I love that we get to do everything together and that we can enjoy being on the same journey together.” “We are definitely competitive, though,” says Chavez. “And we push each other every day. But that’s likely why we are great at what we do!”
JOSH NEWTON | GOLFER
Josh Newton grew up on the outskirts of London in a county called Surrey, which is known as the premier English golfing area with more courses than any other locale in the U.K., as well as some 120 or so golf clubs affiliated to the Surrey Golf Union. “My father first got me into golfing, and growing up in Surrey I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by some of the best golf courses in England, too,” Newton says. “That really helped spark my love for the game.” But it was a certain American golfer—Tiger Woods—who helped Newton truly find his passion for the sport. “My dad grew up in inner-city London, where golf wasn’t very popular,” the young athlete relates to us. “After my dad saw a Black man on TV, who was winning golf’s biggest prize, and also breaking all the records at the same time, he was inspired to start playing the game. And that of course led to me starting to play.”
Newton is currently committed to attending the College of the Canyons in California, but he is now on a sabbatical, attempting to change golf’s old-school modes of fashion—a la his involvement in projects like this one, for VMAN. “Fashion in golf has always been years behind other sports,” he admits. “It’s still hard today to find clothing to express yourself the way you would outside of golf. But, it’s also one of the only sports where there are no uniforms or team colors that have to be worn while you are playing. So I try to utilize this freedom and dress in a way where I feel comfortable, while not disrespecting the traditions and heritage of the sport.”