The Akron artist who became inspired to paint works depicting boxer Michael “Dynamite” Dokes and some opponents after meeting the former world heavyweight champion will open two exhibits tonight.
John Puglia, who met Dokes at Crave Restaurant in downtown Akron near his office about two years ago, will open for Images from the Life of Michael Dokes from 7 to 10 p.m. at NEXT Akron, 837 W. Market St. The exhibit includes 10 large paintings. At the same time, across the street at Square Records, 824 W. Market St., 20 smaller paintings of opponents who fought Dokes can be viewed.
“The guy is larger than life,” Puglia, who called himself a lifelong boxing fan, said of Dokes. “It is personal. ... It is an Akron story.”
Dokes, 54, an Akron native who attended South High, died of cancer Aug. 11. He became WBA heavyweight champion in Dec. 10, 1982, when he stopped Michael Weaver in the first round. He lost the title Sept. 23, 1983, when Gerrie Coetzee scored a knockout in the 10th round of their bout at the Richfield Coliseum.
Puglia, vice president/creative for WhiteSpace Creative in Akron, said he spent considerable time with Dokes over the next few months after their initial meeting. He said they talked about making a documentary.
After Dokes’ death, however, Puglia delved more deeply into researching the boxer and turned that into artwork of him and his opponents.
Dokes’ brother Kevin Dokes, of the Dayton area, said the family is pleased Puglia has devoted time and his artistic talents to the exhibit and that he is remembering the former champion in this manner.
He also said the family wants to see about getting Rhodes Avenue in Akron renamed for Michael Dokes and has been collecting signatures to propose such a change.
“We, as a family, want to keep his legacy alive,” Kevin Dokes said.
Most of the pieces in the exhibit will be for sale, Puglia, 48, said. The shows close Dec. 12.
Puglia presented an exhibit Pipefitters, Porn & P.B.R. at the We Gallery in downtown Akron this summer that included two paintings of Dokes. He said his next project might be to track down other former boxers to create art of them.
For more on Puglia, go to his blog at http://johnpuglia.tumblr.com.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.