I grew up loving boxing and Muhammad Ali was my favorite
then. He would fight on Friday nights on TV and I would watch him; that was the
beginning of me getting into loving fighting. I remember the first
Frazier fight, it was on pay per view and I begged my dad to take me to the
movie theater and watch it.
Of course one of the most famous moments in his career is
the iconic image of his second fight with Sonny Liston for the world
heavyweight championship (May 25, 1964.) The photo of Liston down on the canvas
after Ali’s "phantom punch," is considered by many to be the greatest
photo in sports history. My painting - a 24x28 oil on canvas –- captures the
angle and feeling of that photo, when Ali stood over Liston and yelled, 'Get up
and fight, sucker.'
If you put that photo next to my painting, they don’t
look the same at all. The photo is static, there’s no movement to it, I gave a
lot more fluid movement to the painting. I also changed the sizes; in the photo
Liston is gi-normous, he looks like a whale lying on the canvas because of the
distortion of the angle from the photographer’s lens. I made him smaller than
life-sized and Ali is big and dominating.
The Ali painting is totally different than everything else I've done, it's a move toward realism for my art.
It really was an inspirational moment in sports and Ali
became such an inspirational character to me and other sports fans. He went on
to be one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time, and one of the
most beloved American athletes.