By Derek Bonnett: One of the greatest benefits of covering the world of boxing for SecondsOut is the opportunity to develop long-lasting friendships with those who share the same unquenchable passion for professional fisticuffs. Fighters, trainers, managers, and writers: I’ve sat down with all of them. However, one of the rarer roles in the sport of boxing is that of the professional artist, who uses his brush to interpret the dynamic collision of two boxers in the heat of savory competition.
I first met Jace McTier at the 2011 International Boxing Hall of Fame Induction ceremony. The instant I beheld his masterful brush strokes over canvas, I knew he was a man I had to work with for the pages of SecondsOut. Over the past year, we have remained in touch to share discourse on the Sweet Science and other matters pertinent to both of us. Above all, I have found McTier to be a devoted family man, one of strong spiritual resolve. The fact that he knows the sport of boxing inside and out is an added bonus. McTier’s brush has eloquently captured boxing history and lovingly reached out to touch humanity. I reached out this week to Jace to hear his thoughts about the 2012 boxing scene, a little art, and a whole lot more. This is what Jace had to offer SecondsOut.com.
Derek Bonnett: Jace, a lot has happened since you last spoke with SecondsOut, most notably, the passing of Angelo Dundee and Leroy Nieman. How did these men influence your passion for the sport and your artwork?
Jace McTier: There are really no words to describe the influence that both men had on me or on the sport of boxing. Angelo was the world’s greatest motivator, he told you exactly what you needed to hear when you needed to hear it- in and out of the ring. His insight was phenomenal. Little things that I had noticed through my study of the sport, like the way Muhammad Ali moved - if you watch Willie Pastrano, at his best, and fast forward the tape to about twice the speed, it will make you see shades of the young Cassius Clay. Angelo understood personalities and knew that Pastrano would be a good sparring partner and personality around the gym to work with his emerging “mega-star.” Hanging around the superstars of all sports that loved to talk to Angelo was always amazing, but things such as being privy to hearing Angelo and Solomon McTier, another one of Ali’s early sparring partners reminisce, are moments that this boxing fan will never forget. I remember one day I was visiting with Angelo and we were talking about baseball and the Tampa Bay Rays- of all things- and Big George Foreman called him up. I had the opportunity to sit and listen to two boxing legends talk about their sport and hear the advice that Angelo gave Big George about training his son – as the commercial says- it was priceless.
Neiman, a great friend of Angelo, used his emotional exhibition of color of art to bring the power of sport, especially boxing, to people unable to sit ringside – if you see a fight live and up close, it is completely different than watching it on television. You can feel the hard shots landing: there is a concussion to it that you feel. The drops of sweat and blood that fill the air when a flush-shot is landed can never be recreated even in the highest of high “def” TV, but Neiman, through powerful and bold use of color, gave people a template for their imagination to be ringside and live the greatest moments of the sport in their own time and understanding. The example set forth by Neiman is something that I will always strive to achieve – my goal is to make you stop and reckon with my art, not to just see it, but to experience it.
DB: Your work branches far beyond the ropes of a boxing ring. What types of work have you been keeping busy with on your version of the canvas?
JT: I’ve had the privilege recently of working with greats of the golf world. I’m wrapping up a project with Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke that will benefit the Press On Fund (www.pressonfund.org)– a named charity of The Cure that helps benefit the children of St. Jude Medical Research Hospital and their ongoing fight against childhood cancer. I am also finishing up a commission of the Muhammad Ali of the cowboy world – Phil Rapp. In the near future I will be unveiling (at the Miami 5th St. Gym) the next painting in my Dundee series. It will feature the great Emmanuel Steward and Angelo’s protégée, Matt Baiamonte.
DB: 2012 has been a very vibrant year for upsets in the sport of boxing. Which upset moment do you think could be best represented with the artist’s brush?
JT: Danny Garcia’s TKO of Amir Khan was the one that really caught my attention – I was unaware of how solid Garcia’s boxing skills were. I thought it would be a close fight but TKO in 4 was impressive. That one would be fun to paint! In 2012 you’ve got to mention Bradley/Pacquiao (although I’d rather not – huge respect for both fighters). If I were to paint that fight, I would have to paint the judges and not the pugilists.
DB: One of the most prominent active boxers to be honored by your brush is Sergio Martinez. He has a stern challenge coming up this month. How do you see that fight unfolding?
JT: With fireworks! Both guys like to throw hard and fast. I’m looking for Sergio, the real middleweight champion (he did beat Pavlik, who beat Taylor, who beat the middleweight king, B-Hop) to lay it all on the line against the bigger, younger and yet inexperienced fighter. This is a tough one, but I am looking for Sergio winning by KO in the 9th. If Sergio can protect his body early and land a couple of those earth-shaking over-hand lefts, the fight won’t see the championship rounds. Martinez went the distance and cut Pavlik to pieces and Chavez Jr. has never been in the ring with that kind of firepower – no matter how good he looked against Andy Lee. Whoever’s hand is raised at the end, the real winner is the boxing fans. There is no way this one isn’t going to be exciting and entertaining! When fight fans of yester-year bought a ticket to see the likes of LaMotta, Basilio and Hagler, they knew what they were going to get- an all out athletic display of the fighter’s heart – I’m looking for that same spirit to be showcased September 15th.
DB: The Olympics inspire sports fans all over the world to stop what they’re doing and take notice of the multitude of sporting events testing human wills to reach super-human levels. Did you feel inspired to capture any Olympic moments this summer?
JT: I would love to be involved – Neiman’s footprints are all over the Olympic landscape and I would love a shot at capturing all the great athletes of the world. In talking with Big George, his favorite moment in boxing wasn’t winning the title, but winning the gold medal – stars are made and dreams come true in those worldwide showcases of the best athletes. Who could forget the joy on Claressa Shields’ face after winning the gold – what a moment! Only time will tell.
DB: One boxing favorite to say his farewells in 2012 was Glencoffe Johnson. If you were asked to do a montage of his career highlights, what would you consider his must see moments?
JT: The Road Warrior! Great boxing nickname- you don’t get much tougher than that. I like to capture the heat of the moment in a single scene, but you’ve got to love the intensity at which he attacked and brutally KO’d Jones, Jr. Really all of 2004 for the then 35 year old champion was pretty impressive. And to top it off, he made a pretty good showing at 41 as a replacement in the Super Six against much younger and faster competition. I’d have to paint three paintings – one, the right hand from the Jones Jr. fight with Johnson wearing all white and attacking hard; two, the Tarver fight, with Johnson and Tarver all tangled up, in the same passion as “Stag at Sharkeys” by George Bellows. How much fun was that fight? And the third would be just of Glenn’s face now in 2012 – a humble, tough and tested champion- a boxing warrior.
DB: A favorite topic of any boxing aficionado is the state of the heavyweight division. Do you see any hope for the Klitschkos’ upcoming challengers, Charr and Wach?
JT: Hope against the Klitschkos? I guess Charr and Wach can hope that the brothers pull a muscle while playing golf or climbing through the ropes on fight night! They are just so big and have really solid technique, a fact that is underrated by a lot of people because it isn’t all that entertaining. Charr takes a good deal of punches (from what little I’ve seen of him) and that isn’t usually a plus against either one of the KO Brothers. Wach is at least in Wladimir’s same height and reach department and he did beat Kevin McBride, who beat Tyson…that was sarcasm, in case you missed it. Another thing about Wladimir, to beat him you have to beat the man, the nickname AND his corner- with the great boxing mind of Emanuel Steward. The champion has so many weapons at his disposal, not to mention that long jab and wicked right of the man affectionately referred to as “Dr. Steel hammer!”
Speaking of heavyweights, here’s something that always gets the pot stirred up – the best of all time. Here’s what I would love to do: imagine an incredible collection of LIFE-sized works of art depicting the heavyweight greats. That would give our kids, the future of boxing, and us older folks something to marvel at. History brought to life, through art, to commemorate the greats of the sport and see how the boxing has evolved since the adoption of the Marquess of Queensberry rules over the last 145 years. The ten I’d like to paint in no particular order: Muhammad Ali, Jack Johnson, Rocky Marciano, George Foreman, Joe Louis, Joe Frazier, Vitali Klitschko Wladimir Klitschko, Jack Dempsey, and Mike Tyson.
DB: Outside of art and boxing, I have found you to be a man of great global awareness and social concern. Are there any special interests you’d like to share with the readers at SecondsOut?
JT: Some of the toughest fighters I’ve ever seen are children battling for their life against cancer. For me, it is a blessing and a dream come true to see my art being used to help them and their families. There is no referee or break in-between rounds in their fight! But like Angelo or Emmanuel at your side preparing for a fight, we can all help, and fight in their corner by praying, spending time and raising money to help with their bouts.
Visit: www.pressonfund.org for a great place to start and help stand in the corner alongside these little warriors.
"Jace McTier and his art have both emerged as two of the most positive and dynamic influences in our personal lives and in our emission to cure pediatric cancer. Individually, Jace is one of the kindest and most generous people I know. I see his gift as something so much more than that of the artist, but as the capacity to communicate understanding and compassion through the graceful stroke of a brush." -- Turner Simkins, Co-founder of the Press On Fund for CUREchildhoodcancer.org
You can see more of Jace’s boxing and sporting art by visiting:www.mctierart.com
For further boxing discourse, contact Derek DBO Bonnett on Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 10, 2012