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Champions Exhibition: Art and Boxing Meet at Gleason's

by Warren Rosenberg, MetroSports Magazine July 8, 2023

The sport of Boxing has long been considered an art form. From as far back as ancient Greece in the late 7th Century B.C., Homer wrote in the Iliad that, “Boxing is not a sport, it is a Noble Art”. In the year 380 B.C., Plato posed the following question in The Republic, “And do you not suppose, Adeimantus, that a single boxer who was perfect in his art would easily be a match for two stout and well-to-do gentlemen who were not boxers?” More recently, boxer Roy Jones, Jr. is quoted as saying, “Boxing is not brutal, it’s an art”.

The boxing and art worlds met this past Saturday at Gleason’s famous boxing Gym in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn. In a boxing-meets-art event titled, “Champions: The Exhibition”, some of the great living legends of boxing gathered together with visual artists and musicians in a display of art work inspired by the art of boxing. The list of boxing champions in attendance included Iran Barkley, Doug DeWitt, Heather Hardy, Junior Jones, Donny Lalonde, Vinny Paz, Michael Spinks, and Tim Witherspoon.

Above, from left to right: Donny Lalonde, Tim Witherspoon, Anthony Haden-Guest (front), Michael Spinks, Doug DeWitt, Bailey Lalonde (front), Junior Jones, Heather Hardy, Vinny Paz, Bruce Silverglade, Jill Diamond Chastain, Iran Barkley.

The collection of art included photography, painting, sculpture, and fashion displayed throughout Gleason's gym with pieces displayed in the center of the boxing rings, on the ropes surrounding the rings, suspended from the walls, and hanging on the support columns of the building thereby creating an intimate mix of the boxing and visual art worlds. The work featured artists, both local and international and including Mambu Bayoh, Francesco Bertola, Rose Billings, Shraddha Borawake, Grayson Dantzic, Jeaninne Intriago, Bailey Lalonde, Layla Love, Trevor Mansfield, David "MrStarCity", Julia Morrison, Tony Nasa, Pepe Sulaiman, Brandon Tellez, Mullican White and yours truly.

Above: Artist Bailey Lalonde (right) with her mother Christi Lalonde, displaying her painting depicting her father, Champion Donny Lalonde. Below: Three of the participating artists displaying their works, Layla Love (left), Grayson Dantzic (center) and Julia Morrison (right).

Above (Left): Jennifer Santiago, two time NY Golden Gloves Champion, UBF International Champion., Chuck Norris’ World Combat League Eastern Conference Champion. (Center): Gleason's based boxer Melissa St-Vil, former WIBA super featherweight champion, IWBF welterweight champion, and WBC Silver female super featherweight champion photographed at Gleason's Gym. (Right): Boxer Maureen Shea (formerly trained at Gleason's) having her hands wrapped by trainer Pedro Saiz. Maureen is the former IFBA Jr Featherweight World Champion, former NABF Featherweight Champion, former NABA Featherweight Champion and former Interim WBC Featherweight Champion and, while at Gleason's was actress Hilary Swanks's sparring partner while she trained for her part in the movie, Million Dollar Baby. Photographs by Warren Rosenberg.

The event was planned and curated by artist Bailey Lalonde, daughter of Champion Donny Lalonde, through her art organization OCLESSE and Taking Care of Our Own (TKOOO) a charitable organization started by the Lalonde’s to help retired boxers sustain healthy, purposeful, and financially stable lives. Supporting the event was the World Boxing Council (WBC), the Jose Sulaiman Charity Boxer’s Fund, and WBC Cares. 60% of the proceeds from the sale of any art displayed at the event will go to support these charitable efforts. In addition to the direct sale of art, there was also a live auction of several pieces and of boxing memorabilia conducted by an auctioneer from Christie’s.

Above: Christie's auctioneer calling for bids on an autographed WBC Championship belt held aloft by Bailey Lalonde.

Among the notables in attendance, in addition to the boxing Champions, were Anthony Haden-Guest, author, cartoonist and art critic who's work appears in such publications as Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Paris Review and Rolling Stone, and who has won an Emmy for for his documentary 'The Affluent Immigrants'. Larry 'Ratso' Sloman, author of 'Reefer Madness', 'On the Road with Bob Dylan', and 'Thin Ice: A Season in Hell with the New York Rangers' and authored Mike Tyson's biography', Julia Morrison, one of the exhibiting artists is also a screenwriter, storyteller and provocateur. Larry (below right) and Julia (center) can be seen below, posing along with Larry's wife Christi Smith-Sloman (below left), a NYC-based playwright, television writer and journalist who's writing has appeared in The New York Post, New York Daily News, Marie Claire, Essence, The Hollywood Reporter, and elsewhere.

Furthering the intermingling of the art and boxing worlds, author Anthony Haden-Guest stepped into the ring to go a few rounds with David Leslie in one of two exhibition boxing bouts. Following that fight, David Leslie took on Champion Donny Lalonde. In both events, David got the worst of it.

Those in attendance were also treated to a spread of healthy refreshments and live music performance throughout the evening. Jill Diamond Chastain of WBC Cares summed up the evening by noting, “A great cause, a fun night with wonderful artists, musicians and boxers. A lot of love in the air. The WBC’s Jose Sulaiman Fund, which supported Bailey, has raised over 2 million dollars and helped approximately 400 boxers with assistance. We applaud Bailey for her good heart and help."

And special thanks go to Bruce Silverglade and the world famous Gleason's Gym for his hospitality in providing the venue for the event. Pictured below is Bruce posing with Champion Vinny Paz (below left) and event organizer Bailey Lalonde (below right).

If you're interested in viewing and purchasing art work from the Champions Exhibition, you can request the exhibition Catalog from OCLESSE at:


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