Monthly Archives: February 2010

I STAND CORRECTED

Speedy blog day, so you’re spared 1000 words of nothingness in favour of something less windy. This weekend I stand corrected, to paraphrase Lil’ Fame, “Like an orthopedic shoe” as I’ve spent a long, long time assuming the near-legendary 40 Below Timberland boot was the Super Boot, harking back to the late ’80s (87?) in the pebbled leather with the Vibram lug sole – later adopted into the Iditarod range, presumably linked to the brand’s sponsorship of the Trail Sled Dog Race.

High cut, heavyweight and recently reissued with an ALIFE co-sign, the next level of the shoe was the ’92 Iditarod Super Boot that took the original’s Thinsulate lining and doubled the quantity. Mr. Ronnie Fieg, the Queens-born man behind NYC retailer David Z’s SMUs (including a fleece-lined Work Boot with a Jim Jones co-sign) – a store chain that’s been pushing big boots to native New Yorkers for a long, long time (remember kids, Red Wings are nothing new) just made a blog addition of some celebrity visits to the store from over the years – it’s worth squinting beyond the clients and taking a look at past wall offerings.

After Ronnie put his 40 Belows, with a GORE-TEX lining up, I discovered that they weren’t standard Super Boots (‘Super Tims’ to some DC heads apparently), but Super Guide Boots (on the left of the above image) introduced in the late ’80s too – he doesn’t consider the original Super Boot a 40 Below. As a Brit who obsessed over the east coast’s apparel and footwear picks via The Source and LP sleeves, from a serious distance it was an interesting discovery. Were there borough differences in the definition of a 40 Below?

The Super Guide Boot has the triple density sole and the waterproof properties alongside the Thinsulate – visually, it’s a more appealing shoe, but slightly cheaper than the Super Boot which presumably got a markup on ruggedness alone. 2Pac wears a pair of original Super Boots as Bishop in ‘Juice’ – how the hell he could leap between buildings without superpowers in them is a mystery, and Timberland fountain-of-knowledge Dallas Penn keeps dropping gems in his ‘Boot Camp Clique Chronicles’. He knows the style numbers and even alludes to the Guide Boot in this entry. Speaking of ‘Pac – would he have made that Kryptonite jump in the Super Pac Boot?

An example jewel of knowledge, “The Timberland style came from Harlem as well as Northface did. Brooklyn cats at the time were on their Fila-Prince-Le Coq Sportif shit. Harlem’s style back then was flashy too in it’s own right. Roof Of The World coats were wildly popular and pretty expensive. If Paragon was sold out then you had to go to Tents & Trails in lower Manhattan. For Timberland shoes though I always fuxed with Paragon. Polotron loved McReedy & Schreiber. To each his own.

Dallas even threatens to break out the mythical ’60 Below’ in his most recent Timb-centric chapter. The whole Abington sub-brand is pumping out olde world styles, but it would be good to see the real Timberland line documented and reissued with the same build quality that gave the brand its rep with the help of obsessives like Dallas and Ronnie. Personally the only inline piece that still brings it is the “Beef-N-Broc” GORE-TEX Field Boot Mid – in the current climate, it feels like the only logical boot of choice. I’ve tried messing with the PRO line for that invincible feel, but they were heavy, ugly and painful. I respect the Ever-Guard leather though. Looking at the new Imam Thug/CNN footage, big boots and camo haven’t, at time-of-blogging, been superseded in Lefrak by APC New Cures and Vans Eras, regardless of what mixtape art jpegs would have you believe. However, I’m still not 100 percent sure what defines a 40 Below…which renders this blog entry pretty pointless.

GIORGIO MORODER: A MAN AND HIS MACHINERY

Any excuse…literally, ANY excuse to up these images of Giorgio Moroder is enough to warrant a blog post dedicated to the man and his machinery. From experimental subversive sounds, still with the trademark android polish, to most good records of the ’80s (Bowie, Debbie Harry and Phil Oakey spring to mind), Moroder did it. That mechanised Dilla looped (and subsequently recycled) refrain Jay Electronica found e-fame with? Moroder.

From yayo-frantic sounds to plodding robo-Turk reinterpretations, Giorgio is the godfather. Sonically, the whole Ed Banger clan know what time it is when Moroder gets mentioned, and by a lineage of influence, Giorgio birthed many a club soundtrack. But seriously, a great site like FACT can give you a more professional outlook on his best work (FACT mainman and Vinyl Factory honcho Sean Bidder took a chance on a certain chancer freelancer back in 2001 and it’s appreciated).

Sadly, you readers get props over here and a debt of gratitude, but shelling out to get a Getty image cleared is a costly step too far. Still. Despite the intrusive lettering, while the pot-bellied stripe tee studio gesturing image is good, the images below are a great deal more powerful. Charting the many moods of Moroder, the big sunglasses, razor blade chain black and white shoot’s killer, but the alfresco music making poolside is fresh too. Not sure what’s going on with the powder at the table though. This guy was bigger than even Mannie Fresh could fictionalise.

Good to see some images of the ultimate collaboration too – the Cizeta-Moroder V16T supercar, premiered in 1988 and sold between 1991 and 1995 at a $600,000 pricepoint. Pharrell would have a tough time topping that one on the premium dual-label stakes. Around seven were made, and Giorgio’s business partner, Ferrari dealer Claudio Zampolli apparently went to the USA after Cizeta Italy went bankrupt. According to Cizeta USA’s site, if you’ve got $100,000 for a deposit, you can still get one built. This FAQ breaks it down – but a slicker site would be appropriate. Bear in mind that a 1994 version was seized in December by United States Customs without even being on the road as a danger to the public. They can shift.

The two reasons for this Moroder-centric meandering is down to two recent books – the release of ‘And Party Every Day – The Inside Story of Casablanca Records’ meant some new additions to YouTube of unseen Casablanca Records reels from music industry conventions – can you comprehend the sheer volume of chop being consumed at those late ’70s shindigs? Check the otherwordly, seizure-inducing  ‘Battlestar Galactica’ montage at the end of the ‘Midnight Express’ teaser, and there’s a snippet of a Munich Machine ‘Let Your Body Shine’ promo too. Plus, just because…that oft-seen Casablanca footage of some robo-voiced studio time (“Moogs, memory boards and Moroder”) deserves inclusion too.

The second book is Taschen’s ‘Extraordinary Records’ in association with Colors magazine. 432 pages of coloured, etched and shaped vinyl oddities – Giorgio Moroder is an author of the book (well, he writes the introduction), and it even includes a Mastodon record in the mix. From Moroder to Mastodon in one easy step – this is a necessary release. For all his passion for synthesized sound, his passion for vinyl at its most tactile is evident too. Undisputed demigod status…

MY DRUG BUDDY – ADDICTION DOCUMENTARIES

For every entry that looks at sweatshirts too closely, this blog has to have the entries that alienate everyone, reduce traffic and reek of sheer self-indulgence. This is one of them. It goes without saying that the clips linked here aren’t for all tastes either – especially if needle use makes you gag, or if you’re at work and garbled obscenities from your computer could get you in hot water.

I really like drug documentaries. Not the ones about conspiracies or all that hippie hash forum nonsense – street level cinéma vérité style is more my thing. I don’t get a vicarious thrill out of the subjects’ misfortunes, nor do the documentaries make me feel better about myself, though ‘ll admit to the occasional chuckle at the chaos that accompanies single-minded lifestyle of the addict. There’s no room to get pious here – we all know an unfortunate character who managed to render their life a cautionary tale, as experimentation twists into a nihilistic existence, but it makes the subjects fascinating.

The very best mix shocking scenes with tenderness, carrying a certain humanity at the core. Leo Leigh and Andy Capper’s ‘Swansea Love Story’ is an instant classic. Grim, moving and haunting, the level of access is remarkable, and further proof that Vice’s VBS are the masters of the online TV realm. Whereas previous masterpieces of the genre are set on America’s east and west coasts (though middle America’s spawned some truly chilling meth-abuse footage as seen in ‘Crank: Made In America’ ), parts of Swansea in 2009 seems to match that hard-to-shake hopelessness that the Bronx and L.E.S. of old carried when the camera followed some of their desperate denizens on their daily routines.

That an increasing number still exist in this cycle is a tragedy, and that Cornelius and Amy prove so likable, surrounded by an eclectic bunch of drug buddies, makes ‘Swansea Love Story’ a masterpiece. The flatulent “Old Famous” Clinty’s introduction might be the funniest of any documentation to date, before the scale of his plight manifests itself. “P.M.A. P.M.A. – positive mental attitude…”


Other classics of the genre have come courtesy of broadcasters like HBO in their prolific ‘America Undercover’ series. Definitive drug documentaries from the US include ‘Junkie Junior’ – full of South Bronxed-out footage from 1981 as it charts the miserable existence of Junior Rios, whose addiction continues up to the film’s 1986 broadcast. It was the brilliant ‘Streetwise’ from 1984, about Seattle’s runaways that had me hooked on the narcotic side of the subject matter, and 1989’s ‘One Year In A Life Of Crime’ depicts some significantly less likeable characters robbing for drug money – followed up with an equally unsettling sequel nearly a decade later, it’s one of the very best from Jon Alpert (co-founder of the Downtown Community Television Center), and you can see part one right here.

Like ‘Junkie Junior’ it’s worth your time as a portrait of the era as much as it is a powerful depiction of an illegal lifestyle. On the smalltown subject, 1995’s ‘High On Crack Street: Lost Lives In Lowell’ co-directed by Alpert, draws parallels between a decline in industry and a growth in drug use – a topic revisited in ‘Swansea Love Story.’

1999’s ‘Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street’ exposes just how nightmarish San Francisco’s Tenderloin district can be, stripping the heroin lifestyle of any glamour, and 2007’s ‘Dope Sick Love’ isn’t too far from Capper and Leigh’s approach, sticking with the couples, but it’s astonishingly candid. Matt, one of the film’s key characters really does reach rock bottom; and it’s captured on camera. You’ve been warned. HBO’s whole ‘Addiction’ season from 2007, containing a full-length film made by a variety of filmmakers, including D.A. Pennebaker covered all bases of addiction, and led to the related screening of ‘Cracked Not Broken’ about a middle-class girl who hit the rock in a major way, and 2006’s oddball and brilliant ‘TV Junkie,’ culled from 1000s of hours of self-filmed footage capturing TV presenter Rick Kirkham’s “functioning” and spiralling crack habit.

Curiously, my favourite drug-related depiction is hardly even a documentary – 1987’s ‘Story of a Junkie’ aka. ‘Gringo’ a semi-fictionalized account of ‘Punk’ magazine affiliate John Spaceley’s everyday antics. Directed by Lech Kowalski, the man behind the brilliant ‘DOA,’ ‘…Junkie’ was distributed by masters of schlock, Troma with an appropriately lurid poster, but it’s a hugely effective piece of filmmaking. John, playing ‘Gringo’ scores, shoots up with his associates (no special effects necessary), skates down the street, and gets robbed (faked) while wandering around 1984’s Lower East Side like a man on a mission.

Full of the kind of atmosphere money can’t buy, it’s squalid, edgy and brilliant, and for fellow fans of depictions of NYC pre-cleanup, it’s highly recommended. Spaceley reputedly cleaned up, but succumbed to AIDS in 1993. Kowalski includes a cameo by a sickly John in his hard-to-find 1999 Johnny Thunders doc, ‘Born To Lose’ which someone’s kindly uploaded here. Notably, Kowalski’s 1984 16mm short ‘Breakdance Test’ was a primer for a proposed full-length on the topic, but Lech found the subject “annoying” and passed on it.

PATENT SNEAKERS

Zoom Seismic designed by Richard Clarke

Between the day job and copywriting today, today’s blog is particularly aimless. Stuck between regressive and attempts to stay at least moderately progressive, my mind’s been on sports footwear. This blog was originally created as an outlet for things that aren’t shoe related, but I can’t deny my admiration for shoe design when its done right. Google Patents has been a godsend for studying the legal nitty-gritty of brands in general, and on the running/basketball/training shoe front, as brands battled in the technology wars of the late ’80s and ’90s, the sheer volume of patents filed was staggering – its on this, another of Google’s glorious timewasters, that you can see the original sketches of core elements that made up classics.

The imagery below is strictly for the nerds and fellow oddballs out there, but design-minds might get a kick out of it too. Good to see that Nike took the development of some of the stranger late ’90s performance pieces now cemented with a certain cultdom and misty-eyes on mention from types who spent hours poring over beat-led stoner music and Project Dragon once-upon-a-time. I’d really like to know more about this though.

You can tell me that sneakers are done while you slide around in your brogues in slapstick fashion, but when it comes to the more ambitious side of shoes with Swooshes, and messrs. Clarke, Hatfield and Lozano were feeling particularly inspired, you got the design classics. Looking at them as component parts here, I appreciate the damned things even more.

As a small, partially-related digression, while this retrospective is more fun than the actual movie, Spike Lee’s ‘School Daze’ doesn’t get the shine it deserves from an apparel standpoint. Custom adidas sweats? A prolonged Jordan II cleaning scene, and while I could pretend I clocked them in ‘Public Domain’ or on Jack’s feet earlier in ‘The Witches of Eastwick,’ is that a pair of Dunk Hi’s I spy as part of the most pauseworthy ensemble of Spike’s directorial career? If you’re gonna rock hi-tops, best not to combine them with daylgo Speedos that even the House of Xtravaganza in ‘Paris is Burning’ would deem a bit “much.” What’s with all the briefs at a pajama party? For me, reeling from the heavy-handed message at work, it was a curious introduction to a shoe that became a phenomenon.

PAUSE.

The reason I’m dropping some truly gratuitous screengrabs is in tribute to the homie Jonathan Rockwell’s ‘A Fist In The Face Of God’ blog, mixing screencaps with a true knowledge of black metal, thrash and legends like Saint Vitus. It’s one of the best sites out there – big things a ‘gwan this year for team ‘Fist.

Terra Goatek designed by Sergio Lozano

Air Trainer SC High designed by Tinker Hatfield

Zoom Haven designed by Richard Clarke

Part of the Jordan XI designed by Tinker Hatfield

Zoom JST designed by Tinker Hatfield

Air Flight designed by Tinker Hatfield

Jordan XI IE designed by Tinker Hatfield

Air Moc designed by Tory Orzeck

"GOTTA KILL WITNESSES 'CAUSE FREE'S BEARD STICKIN' OUT"

Back for the second day running on a less sprawling rant – as hip-hop, and the recording industry as a whole falls back and starts hi-fiving at derisory numbers compared to the days when Jimmy would’ve been kicking off at the Interscope offices at talk of 200k in the first week, it’s curious that the first thing to go was the fancy packaging. What other incentive was there to resist the right-click? Even mixtape art from the likes of TANSTA was better than most official releases aesthetically. Labels just seemed to give up. But while those Mike Zoot twelves gathered dust, and even with the recent passing of Def Jux, the Jansporter still inherited the earth as far as great art went, and it makes a difference – LEX are still refusing to skimp on those packaging budgets, but with the new Jake One and Freeway project, Rhymesayers have set a standard, and conferred a purchase from over here. Fuck it, this might be the first pang of excitement I’ve experienced where I need an album as an actual object in a long, long, long time.

The Rhymesayers approach to creating that out-the-way fanbase, getting a little emo when the dollar demanded it, and making a point of relentless touring and a steady stream of quality releases evidently pays off, and when design don gorgon Brent Rollins, of Ego Trip fame entered the fray, it looks like scrilla was no object, yet, at the same time, the focal point of ‘The Stimulus Package’s…uh, packaging. A wallet and money roll execution? Those little slots occupied by cards, including black plastic to unlock the instrumentals online, trumping Daft Punk’s ‘Daft Club’ card with ‘Discovery’? A succession of giant novelty notes? And that’s just the CD. The vinyl seems a little more conceptually cumbersome, but two slabs of marbled money green with similar presentation? This is a beautiful artifact, and one of the best pieces of album packaging ever, and that’s regardless of genre.

Of course, Jake’s a solid beatmaker with a strong work ethic, what’s leaked so far is appropriately hard, and Free…well, from that 1-900-Hustler headnod “Who the fuck?” Blaupunkt moment in 2000 to the XXL magazine accompanied trip to FAO Schwartz, and the first significant rap reference to ‘The Wire’ in that ‘What We Do’ promo before the wally liberal press in the UK managed to make burners a dinner table icebreaker over fennel risotto, he’s one of the best emcees out there. Even minus Blaze and that golden Roc lineup, after a momentary sophomore slump, he’s woken from being asleep at the wheel to become, like Sean Price that gully non-Twitter dude (Edit – Just discovered his Twitter game is fairly prolific) with the underground appeal.

If it appeals, go support Jake One and Freeway. They made the effort. Failing that, stick to your low bit rates and jewel cases. Whatever. Good to see Fifth Element (where these pictures are swaggerjacked from) bringing back the spirit of Sandbox and Hiphopsite with their pre-release offers. Ah, memories of long waits for records from Vegas and faxed credit card scans…fortunately these guys seem to be significantly more up to date when it comes to payment and delivery.

THE BIG C

That title’s not a cancer reference. We’re talking Champion. Over the months this blog’s been mired in references to reverse weave, from talk of the genesis of the tactically stitched build, hardcore and No Mas’s loving tribute to the US-made versions. It’s time to dead that obsession on this URL, but not before one final love letter to Champion products. Well, it is Valentine’s day.

Hip-hop and Champion sit together like any other re-appropriation of the basics the subculture’s popularized, but while the bulbous fit with the ‘C’ on the sleeve largely represents the east coast from ’91-’94, and the brand never really left us, it’s currently in the midst of a renaissance. Is it tactical distribution from the brand? Who knows, but Jadakiss, Nas, Rae and Cam’ron have been C’d out in the heft of the Super Hood lately, while 50, Ghost and Rick Ross have been spotted in the brand’s newest creation – the Super Crewneck.

As staple as Polo in the cotton fleece arena, the brand’s gone one further with a giant applique ‘C’ that seems like a gloriously low-end retort to the big ‘Lo horse and rider (if a connection to the house of Ralph seems far-fetched check the feature below from December 1991 drawing a parallel).

It’s almost as far removed from the neat, slimmer cut Japan-made replicas of marl grey American masterpieces as you can get – ‘almost’ is employed there because the thinner, Double Dry fleece Classic Sweatshirt, another personal favourite, is cheap (fifteen bucks!) cheerful, and available in a mindbending array of shades, including some of the colours that had fans scrambling when they were in a reversed stitch. Many would prefer to shell out extra for the sleeve ‘C’ and a thicker cotton and polyester blend, but some might be able to appreciate that dementedly low pricepoint.

From the vintage shades, Cazal logo face ink and enlarged Vuitton custom gear, Officer Rawse has a certain aspirational aura that took a Champion fanboy back to the characters that elevated an athletic brand to him in the first place. It’s tough to single out the non-hardcore musical endorsees who made their mark the hardest wearing Rochester’s finest. Notable examples are MC Lyte in the snap button jacket in 1989’s ‘Self Destruction’ video, and Rakim’s large tonal logo on an orange hoodie during a 1992 MTV appearance, worn with white AF1s too. Inspirational. To be inspired to hunt down a sweat because a rapper wore it is some boom-bap pensioner behaviour – an act of second childhood, with that hefty branding acting as the perfect analogy for hip-hop’s current louder, brasher state, compared to the lowkey single vinyl murk of ’93.

Champion USA now resides comfortably as part of the Hanesbrand family – fitting that the Beefy-T and Reverse Weave are related in their much-loved basics that a certain subsection of Brits in particular, worship. It’s the American Classics generation – that store doesn’t get its full recognition, peddling the import necessities since 1981.

The curious lack of recent availability of classic (respect to the Original Store for filling a gap in the market) Champion products in the UK has given a new Reverse Weave the power to incite conversations between strangers – while fat laces and Vans are now no mark of a like mind, that ‘C’ still has clout. The Italian distributor catering to the EU is slipping, yet they’ve happily franchised the footwear side to produce some budget shockers, though to be fair, in NYC these Air Max 87 copies were spotted. C’mon Champion, when you dropped the suede block colour mids in 1990 with a spurious technology, we could sit them next to the Fila F13. These knockoffs damage the brand as a whole.

Not a good look.

And yes, the Double Dry and Super Crewneck have the ‘flying squirrel’ fit on the arms; minimal waist or cuff lengths, a preposterous amount of room, and room at the front for a fifty inch chest. But the high school jock fit is part and parcel of the contemporary Champion experience. The colours and thickness on the Super Crewneck in particular, are good. As the picture of Mr. Ross indicates, even with his weight, he’s not packing one of these bad boys out. At least the wrist ‘C’ is stitched rather than stuck on, and the Super Crewneck is bonkers enough to justify purchase if you’re a brand disciple. And yes, while the equally insane Super Letterman jacket feels like excellent value, padded, and only eight-five bucks, it’s just as hefty.

Double Dry & Supercrew – A whole lotta sleeve.

Those residing in Japan get some extra breaks. Asia’s licensee loves Champion. A cursory visit to sportswear mecca Oshman’s reveals gems. Having been introduced to the tees they sell by Michael Kopelman, who knows his garments, I noticed you’ll get none of the supersize with the China-made ‘Champion Products Inc.’ label pieces – from the neck detailing to the slimmer fit, they’re a near perfect shirt. The Reverse Weave zip parkas and crewnecks are slimmed-down too and superior in quality. There’s oddities too, like grey-on-grey polka dot zip parkas, yet somehow it all works.

If that doesn’t sate the Reverse Weave appetite, Osaka’s HUNKYDORY  have been dropping gems with an American-made replica line. We might be done with the US build preoccupation, but these fits here are superior, and these are beautifully packaged. The Remake Crew Sweat takes it way, way back, but the Reverse Weave Crew Sweat is all that the brand’s output could and should be. Beautiful. There you have it – from the ridiculous, to the sublime.

EDWIN VALERO'S HUGO TATTOO

Folk can argue about his politics all they like – the liberator/dictator argument pertaining to South America has raged all my lifetime, but I find Edwin Valero’s fandom of Venezuelan president for life, Hugo Chávez, kind of enduring. as a fan of bad sporting tattoos, and having been introduced to the bestselling ‘Chavecito‘ (‘Little Chávez’) toy when Edwin waved a Chávez doll after a victory over Honmo nearly three years ago, I was in awe of his decision to really go to town and get some Hugo ink early last year. On the arm? Not visible enough.

Mike Tyson* may expressed interest in a Chávez  piece to sit alongside his Che portrait, but even he, with his questionable thought process when it comes to going under the needle, would have baulked at a full Venezuela flag in red, blue and yellow, ‘Venezuela de Verdad‘ (‘True Venezuela’) in script above it, and, requiring explanation, or possibly guessable, given the imagery behind it, his friend and idol’s mugshot across the chest. It’s safe to say that Edwin Valero really likes Hugo Chávez.

It’s pretty bad. The colours look felt-tipped in. Technically, it would be the worst tattoo in boxing history, were it not for the likes of Cotto, Mads Larsen or Scotland’s Ricky Burns festooning themselves in regrettable tribal crap. That’s not the point. This this piece sends a powerful rebel message that may, or may not have caused USA visa issues (though that could be his out-the-ring antics catching up with him too). That’s something interesting.

By marking himself for life, Edwin assures himself of hero patriot status back home; a real-life superhero, and embodiment of the ‘new’ Venezuela. HBO have come down on advertisers using fighters as walking billboards lately, but you can’t miss the message Edwin’s carrying. It’s a serious act of commitment. Valero’s far from the first Venezuelan fighter of note, and critics have accused Hugo of killing the country’s rich fighting heritage. To counteract this, he’s reportedly closing some golf courses for being too bourgeois to develop what he perceives the national sport to be. Valero’s convincing victory over DeMarco at the weekend proved there’s more to him than mere power, which certainly doesn’t stop haters from wanting him beaten – again, that pro-commie tattoo baits the opposition in bombastic style. A mooted light-welterweight bout with Timothy Bradley could be incredible, and the pre-fight debate should be fascinating.

South American fighters representing Cuba have been well treated by Castro. Being pro-coup can get you a mansion, as Félix Savón and Teófilo Stevenson discovered. according to ‘Sports Illustrated,’ Panama’s Roberto Duran was asked to speak to Cuba’s leader in the late ’70s and managed to blow it. I heard he lived there just pre-retirement, but the phonecall didn’t go too well,

The fighter had just had a call from General Omar Torrijos, the President of Panama, who was visiting Cuba. Fidel Castro wanted very much to meet Duran. “I told him to go ahead,” Eleta said, “but I warned him, as I always do, not to get involved in politics. I told him to be careful of what he said.”

Pledging to be discreet, Duran flew to Havana, where all went smoothly—at first. And then Castro mentioned Teofilo Stevenson, the Cuban two-time Olympic heavyweight champion. “What would you think of a fight between Stevenson and Muhammad Ali for the world title?” Castro asked.

The question didn’t sound political to Duran. “Don’t be crazy,” he said. ” Ali would kill him.”

“Adios” Fidel said.

I don’t pretend to know much on tattoo history. I’ll leave that to my friend Mr. Nick Schonberger. It’s still entertaining to see boxing working hard to reinforce itself as a sport after so many controversies, and tattooing pushed as a real artform, only for all the amassed intentions to come undone when the two mix. Riddick had his kids on his flesh, there’s no end of traditional glove motives discreetly applied, as well as the obligatory religious iconography blandly executed. Nigel Benn’s peculiar star back piece is worthy of mention too. Now no fight is complete without some ill-advised ink on display – Diego Corrales has plenty of bad work, Winky Wright’s ‘Winky’ piece is funny, Manny’s seem well-intentioned but atrocious, Barrera’s rose is atrocious, Kermit Cintrón’s dog image on his back is goofy.

The successes arise when fighters really go for broke – Archak ‘Shark Attack’ Termeliksetian’s Shark-nipple interface? Johnny Tapia’s ‘Mi Vida Loca’ Catholic chest piece? Louis Collazo’s entire torso? Incredible – it even seems to include the Kraken from ‘Clash of the Titans’ as part of a religious good/evil scene. Kessler’s tribal touches border on a failure, yet the cartoonish viking reaching around his back give him the fearsome look that was presumably the intention, but it pales next to the previous trio. For sheer attention-seeking, Edwin still takes the belt for most madcap tattoo in the sport – no mean feat.

*MMA fighter Paulo Filho has a rendition of Mike on his arm. It looks very little like Kid Dynamite, more like some racist propaganda from the Jim Crow era. However, Paulo offsets this with the ill pitbull million dollar bill stomach piece he rocked post-rehab.