This work tells the story of 100 years of boxing with Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson at its centre. 1681 was the year the first report of a prizefight appeared in the Protestant Mercury but this story starts in 1892.
In 1892 we had the first heavyweight championship fight under Queensberry Rules between “Boston Strong Boy “ John L Sullivan and “ Gentleman Jim “ James J Corbett, Sullivan was known as “ The Man “ in the press and Corbett was known as The Man who beat The Man after he defeated Sullivan in the 21st round (the only man to do so over Sullivan’s 20 year career).
In 1908 “ Galveston Giant “ Jack Johnson became the first black boxer to win the heavyweight championship, he was the most hated black man in America and this was cemented when in 1910 he beat “ The Boilermaker “ James J Jeffries during The Fight of the Century in the 15th round.
1919 “ The Manassa Mauler “ Jack Dempsey becomes the Heavyweight champ, in 1921 a Dempsey fight would have the first million dollar gate and in 1926 the first 100,000 + crowd when 120,757 spectators attended Dempsey V Gene Tunney.
1937 “ The Brown Bomber “ Joe Louis would begin the longest heavyweight championship reign which would last until 1948.
1951 “ Jersey Joe Walcott “ Arnold Raymond Cream was the oldest man to win the title; he would hold that record until 1994 when George Foreman knocked out Michael Moore in Las Vegas.
1952 “ The Brockton Blockbuster “ Rocky Marciano becomes the heavyweight champion and would finish in 1956 with a record of Won 49 Lost 0 Drawn 0.
1960 “ The Gentleman of Boxing “ Floyd Patterson would become the youngest champion at the age of 21 and was also the first heavyweight to regain the title after losing it.
1962 “ Sonny “ Charles L Liston “the man they love to hate “ beats Floyd Patterson in the first round to become champion, he would repeat the feat in their return fight 10 months later.
1964 “ The Louisville Lip “ (Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr) Muhammad Ali would beat Sonny Liston in round 7 to become the heavyweight champion, after the fight the new champ roared “ I am the greatest “ a statement many to this day would agree with.
1970 “ Smokin Joe “ Joseph William Frazier becomes the undisputed heavyweight champion, in 1971 he would beat Ali in what was billed “ Fight of the Century “ but would loose to Ali in their following 2 fights with the last Frazer V Ali fight being known as the Thrilla in Manila.
1973 “Big George “ George Edward Foreman won the heavyweight championship by defeating a then undefeated Joe Frazier; he would have his first professional loss to Muhammad Ali in “ The Rumble in the Jungle “.
1986 “Iron Mike “ Mike Tyson at 20 years and 5 months becomes the youngest boxer to hold a version (WBC) of the heavyweight championship. He took this title from Floyd Patterson; both fighters had Cus D’Amato as their manager.
1990 “ The Real Deal “ Evander Holyfield becomes the undisputed heavyweight champion after defeating Buster Douglas; Douglas had knocked out Iron Mike earlier that same year
Cus D’Amato and Angelo Dundee both feature in this painting, I have them watching over the others opponent.
The others watching the Ali v Tyson fight have a history with both fighters, you will see why if you look them up.
Larry Holmes, Leon Spinks, Trever Berbick, Ken Norton, Buster Douglas, Lennox Lewis, Kevin McBride, Danny Williams and Don King.
During the 7 weeks working on this painting I have been researching and watching heavyweight championship fights from the last hundred years, I have come to this conclusion, people will have their own opinions and many will disagree but Jack Johnson, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson on any given day would have beaten each other, think of each fighter in their prime and how spectacular the fights would have been.
Rocky Balboa would have come behind and beat them all , Yo Adrian, I did it!