Al Faraone’s Comments on His Artwork for the Cover
Looking out at you is Willie Beltram. Lightweight boxer. Born in New York, New York. Fifty-eight wins, 21 KOs, 23 loses, 5 draws. Willie was my father’s friend and so he was my friend, too. Boxers back then were symbols of the society at large. Think Jack Johnson and the Great White Hope—looking for a white man to beat the black champion. That this man is someone I knew, of course, speaks only to me on one level—but Willie was an exploited man of color—some in my mostly white neighborhood mocked him, called him “punch drunk.” You don’t have to know him to see the pain and below-the-surface anger and resentment.
When I was 15 he got mad at me and wanted to fight. He kicked the table over next to the chair I was seated in. “Willie, he’s just a kid,” someone said. I was ecstatic. A professional boxer wanted to fight me. What a story I had to tell and here I am telling it still.
Willie on the cover is flesh and blood to me. I see you again, Willie. You existed. Willie is on the cover of a magazine. I’m glad Willie can look out at our readers of FRiGG—and inspire them to fight and stare people down.
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