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21 NOVEMBER 2018


Jace McTier: Portraits of Pugilism

Warrior (Micky Ward) Jace McTier
Warrior (Micky Ward) Jace McTier

By Derek Bonnett: One of the many attractions I look forward to each time I attend the International Boxing Hall of Fame’s Induction Weekend is the Boxing Autograph Card Show at Canastota High School in New York. There, collector’s can peruse and purchase fight photos, signed gloves, new and rare fight posters and programs, books, cards, and just about anything else under the realm of collectible. This year, while trying to balance ourselves from the sensory overload, my wife procured Jeff Fenech’s signature to garnish a photo taken from his rematch with Azumah Nelson. The premiere Ghanaian boxer of all-time also signed the photo earlier in the day.

Once Fenech stepped away from us to cater to the needs of other admiring fans, I saw a collection of paintings. A collection a multitude of boxing scribes and collector’s had been clamoring about from corner to corner of the CHS gymnasium. I’m no art expert, but when I think about sports artwork, particularly with a focus on prizefighting, I think of one name: Leroy Nieman. From that day forward (June 11, 2011), whenever this topic settles in my brain, Nieman’s name will be paired with a second: Jace McTier.

Alex Pierpaoli of, also in attendance at the IBHOF 2011 Induction Weekend, was equally impressed with McTier’s work.

"The vivid colors and kinetic movement of Jace McTier’s boxing paintings make his subjects appear to leap off the canvas at you behind a mean left hook or a hard straight right," Pierpaoli explained. "The sense of drama and intimacy he captures in depicting a few whispered words of advice between rounds between Angelo Dundee and George Foreman give the viewer a sense of shared experience with these legends of the ring. McTier’s work is reminiscent of the great Leroy Neiman, perhaps most in its use of color, but there is a realism in the physicality of his subjects and a sense of drama in even the most subtle poses and movements in McTier’s work that I prefer over Neiman."

McTier, 30, sprouted from a family of artists. He claims to have grown up under his mother’s easel where he learned to paint from her strokes. As child, Jace was allowed to add a couple of strokes to her paintings and, now, a father himself, Jace grants the same privilege to his son, Eric. Along with his wife Rachel, their family resides outside of Augusta, GA where Jace was born and raised. Outside of painting, boxing is another passion McTier is exposing his young one too. Jace earned his first commission for a portrait at the age of sixteen. Perhaps, young Eric will top even that.

I spoke with McTier at the IBHOF and we made plans to reconnect this summer for an interview. Upon seeing the work of Jace McTier, it became a mission of mine to share his work with those not fortunate enough to have set their eyes on it at the hall of fame or elsewhere. Before leaving the gymnasium in Canastota in June, my wife asked me, aware of the awe I felt for Jace’s collection, "Do you want a new deck or a painting?" I have spent the last couple of weeks of summer enjoying my new deck, but now my walls are longing for a McTier canvas.

Derek Bonnett: Jace, how did you first combine your passion for painting with the sweet science?

Jace McTier: Two words: Leroy Neiman. Stallone’s inclusion of Neiman’s art in Rocky III was something that left an impression on me that has never faded. I think I was three or four when my dad took me to the theater to see the movie. I’ll never forget that last scene where Apollo and Rocky throw these haymakers and the shot pauses and fades to Neiman’s painting. I knew I could paint it from memory.

After painting professionally for several years, I decided it was time for me to try to paint an image that I had been carrying around in my mind for a long time. “Impact” was the result. I wanted to paint the power behind a heavyweight boxer’s punch and I decided to showcase one of the most memorable fights of all time: Ali-Foreman. The painting showcases Ali leaning almost into the ringside seats and progresses to him throwing that vicious right hand lead that shocked the world…for the second time!

DB: Discuss your relationship with Angelo Dundee and the importance of your unveiling a new painting for his 90th birthday?

JM: Angelo- he’s a national treasure- a legend in the sport of boxing and the absolute nicest human being I have ever met. I was introduced to Angelo through a friend of my wife’s family who worked with Angelo’s son, Jimmy. After getting the OK from the Dundee family, we decided to create a painting that would commemorate Angelo’s career and the re-opening of the historic 5th St. Gym in Miami, FL. “Titans of 5th St.” was the result. When Angelo saw the paintings he was super excited, shook my hand and said, “Your work is fantastic! I helped another little artist get started a couple of years ago. You might have heard of him, Leroy Neiman?” I just smiled. Then he looked at me and grinned, “We’ll help do the same for you, kid.” Since then he has been like a surrogate grandfather to me; but that is Angelo, if you talk to him for more than 20 seconds you will probably feel the same way. Angelo has been gracious enough to let me look through all of his old photographs, which is like a visual history of boxing since WWII. He’s got closets full of them! My newest addition to my Angelo Dundee collection, “Game Plan at 5th St.” was inspired by one of those very photographs and this was the painting that was unveiled for his 90th birthday. It is hard to put into words what it meant to me to be there with the Dundee family; they have all been fantastic! I mean how often do you get to sit down to an incredible meal with Angelo Dundee and his great family, Jake LaMotta, and Heisman winner and Super Bowl Champ, Desmond Howard? I’m a boxing fan who grew up on a farm in rural Georgia who now finds himself at Angelo Dundee’s birthday celebration in one of the nicest restaurants in Miami. God has truly blessed me!

DB: What was the feedback you received after showcasing your work at the HOF in Canastota in June?

JM: Everyone was in Canastota was great! They all loved the art and we gained a huge group of new fight-fanatics as friends. Everyone wants prints and t-shirts, and we are on the tail-end of launching a new Angelo Dundee and Boxing/Fight apparel line featuring my artwork! We will be officially launching the clothing line and a new web site sometime in the very near future.

DB: Which boxer or fight would be your ultimate subject? Current and all-time?

JM: Wow, as far as the greats that I haven’t painted yet, Sugar Ray Robinson, definitely. The speed and technique of Sugar never ceases to amaze me; the Robinson-LaMotta and the Robinson-Basilio fights were some of the greatest of all time. I wish there would have been a third Robinson-Basilio. I have painted Ali many times, but I would love to do a big multi image painting of the Ali Shuffle, Joe Frasier’s wicked left hook, the Ward-Gatti fights always inspire me [as well.] I am a big Sergio Martinez fan. He lays it all out there. You got to love an ex-soccer player converting to the sport of boxing and knocking guys out to become champion of the world. I love Pacquiao’s full-throttle approach to the sport and I am looking with great expectation to Big George’s son’s (George "Monk" III) heavyweight career. I could keep going; I am a boxing fan who loves capturing the human body in motion and the primitive power that the sport so wonderfully displays.

DB: Describe a little about your process in creating art, styles you employ, materials, inspiration, etc.

JM: I’ve always loved the sport of boxing; I appreciate it. These athletes are our modern day gladiators. I am fascinated by the technique of all sports. Boxing is like a violent ballet. There is no formula, it is kind of like boxing in that respect, each painting always presents itself differently and there are different challenges and obstacles with each canvas. I work mostly in oils, but I will sometimes employ a mixed media technique that I learned from the great wildlife artist, Robert Bateman. Sometimes I meticulously sketch out every part of the painting before proceeding and others I will throw paint at the canvas and go from there. Like I said, each canvas is very unique.

DB: Have you sold any paintings yet? What type of offers are you receiving?

JM: I make my living off of commission oil portraits and prints. I will soon offer my boxing art for sale as a collection. It has been a ten-year journey with my fight-art and I am working towards having a large showing in the very near future. I am a second generation artist and so far, McTier Art has carried me and my family into the Oval Office for a private presentation with President Ronald Reagan, and into thousands of private homes. Most recently, I’ve been able to meet some of my childhood heroes and some of the greatest athletes and trainers in the world: Angelo Dundee, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, etc. I am very thankful to God and all the wonderful people He has allowed my journey in life to cross paths with.

Interested fans can check out for more details concerning the work of Jace McTier.

For further boxing discussion contact Derek DBO Bonnett on Facebook or at

August 11, 2011

Game Plan at 5th St (Angelo Dundee) by Jace McTier
Game Plan at 5th St (Angelo Dundee) by Jace McTier
Impact by Jace McTier
Impact by Jace McTier

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