Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Monet for Old Rope

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Monet for Old Rope

Article excerpt


JOHN McDERMOTT likes to work with canvas. Stretched between four corner posts, he is using the material as the base to launch his bid to become world heavyweight boxing champion.

When it is drawn tight between the four wooden ribs of a picture frame, he uses his huge fists to guide a brush over the plain-weave with the most delicate of strokes.

McDermott has discovered he has a unique talent for the fine and fistic arts.

Now, this 18-stone giant from Horndon in Essex is laying plans to become known as the painter with the big punch.

Although dyslexic he is an enthusiastic student of art history and has cultivated a special appreciation for the work of the Impressionists.

The 20-year-old can tell a Manet from a Monet, and what he doesn't know about Renoir can be written on the palm of a boxing glove.

One of his ambitions is to study art at university, but gaining a degree has been put on hold until he has created his own impression in boxing's blue ribbon division.

As an amateur, McDermott took just nine fights to become last year's ABA super-heavyweight champion.

As a professional boxer, he is unbeaten in four bouts and tomorrow will aim to claim his fifth victim at the York Hall in Bethnal Green.

Appearing on the undercard to an IBF Inter-Continental light-middleweight title fight between Takaloo and James Lowther is not the biggest earner.

Consequently, McDermott supplements his purse earnings by working for the restoration business, Antique Bronze in Highgate, owned by his boxing manager John Branch.

It has become a labour of love for McDermott. An apprenticeship with Branch inspired the boxer to take up painting and sculpting, two gentle disciplines that seem a world removed from the strenuous training regime that he follows at the Kronk Gym in London's St Pancras.

But McDermott hopes success in the ring will eventually pay for his art studies.

The son of former crowd-pleasing heavyweight Stan McDermott, he said: "I've got friends at university who have had to borrow money to get there. …

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