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Painting: Acrylic, Ink, Paint, Plastic on Canvas, Plastic, Wood.
Ink, Acrylic, Gel Medium, Mylar on canvas
24 in × 18 in
‘The Boxer’ is a portrait of Phyllis Kugler, a celebrated professional female fighter of the 1950’s. She often fought under the name Phil Kugler to avoid sexism, as boxing was considered an almost exclusive sport for men at the time. It’s been said that her mother originally protested her boxing training, but despite her judgments, Krugler went on to fight in over 50 exhibition and professional matches, sometimes fighting men to pay her dues, with only one loss on record. Once word got out that she was a lady fighter, Kugler maintained a femininity outside of the ring, wearing high heels and dresses to promote her bouts. Phyllis Kugler retired in 1959, at just 22 years old, after facing an ultimatum by her first husband. He reportedly told her to stop boxing in the height of her career, or he would not marry her.
I chose Phyllis as the subject of this work, because I believe she faced similar conflicts as modern women still do today. She was a beautiful lady, passionate about her career, who put her goals aside for a man she thought she loved. Despite the controversy with her mother over her chosen path, she embraced her femininity and her ability to physically dominate - a thing women are still told is not possible. We often hear, ‘women will never be as strong as men’ and I think she proved that statement wrong. In the end, her emotions overpowered her physical strength, and that is an issue some of us still fight daily.
I hope the audience relates to my depiction of this fierce and feminine Icon, taking away a feeling of protection, and ease from her calm and yet impenetrable glare.