<p><b>Photographer of the Year: </b>Bare-knuckled and poised to punch, boys from the Venda tribe in Tshifudi, South Africa, engage in the boxing tradition known as <i>musangwe</i>. For boys as young as nine, it’s both an outlet for male energy and a check on aggression. Adults oversee the bouts to contain the violence. See this photo in the January 2017 feature story "<a href="http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/01/how-rites-of-passage-shape-masculinity-gender/">The Many Ways Society Makes a Man</a>."</p>

Photographer of the Year: Bare-knuckled and poised to punch, boys from the Venda tribe in Tshifudi, South Africa, engage in the boxing tradition known as musangwe. For boys as young as nine, it’s both an outlet for male energy and a check on aggression. Adults oversee the bouts to contain the violence. See this photo in the January 2017 feature story "The Many Ways Society Makes a Man."

Photograph by Pete Muller

See the Best 'Pictures of the Year'

A bison, vintage cars, and rangers taking selfies are some of the photos that garnered awards in Pictures of the Year International contest.

National Geographic photographers, editors, and staffers won a total of 28 award in this year's Pictures of the Year International (POYi) contest, the most wins for the organization since it began tracking them in 2011.

The Missouri School of Journalism has run the annual contest that recognizes top photojournalism since 1944. The awards Nat Geo received this year were for both photography and staff editing entries, demonstrating the skill sets of the entire National Geographic team.

The pictures in the above gallery and listed below showcase the exceptional storytelling by our photojournalists that inspired the POYi judges to award them top honors. In addition, Kurt Mutchler and Sadie Quarrier won first and second place in the Magazine/Media Visual Editor of the Year category for multiple stories. The broader team of National Geographic photo editors was also a finalist for the Angus McDougall Overall Excellence in Editing Award.

Sarah Leen, Nat Geo's director of photography, says what struck her about the awards was how many of them were for digital-first stories and digital presentations of magazine stories—11 in all.

"We have been making a special effort to increase the quality of our online photographic storytelling and this tells me those efforts are paying off," she says.

Pete Muller's win in the Photographer of the Year category was especially poignant because his entry was almost entirely made up of work he did for Nat Geo. The organization also swept the Science & Natural History Picture Story category.

"It is such a pleasure to see that amazing work honored," Leen says. "It is work we do that is not being done by almost anyone else. And it is increasingly important for all of us to see and discuss issues about the environment, science, and the natural world, now more than ever."

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