Leroy Neiman was an accomplished artist and painter. Known for his vibrant color patterns and styles, Neiman specialized in screen prints of musicians and especially athletes. Some of his most famous works revolved around Muhammad Ali, as well as a myriad of sporting events. Leroy was also featured in the Rocky movies, where he would paint both Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers. Stallone and Weathers, of course, would play the title roles of Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed respectively. Neiman would also paint the 1967 showdown between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. With his signature mustache and larger than life characters, Leroy was well respected both in the artistic and sporting communities.
Leroy Neiman was born on June 8, 1921, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He was of Swedish descent, and his parents were named Charles Julius Runquist and Lydia Sophia. While his biological father deserted the family, his mother would later marry his stepfather, John L. Neiman. This prompted Leroy to change his name, while the family moved in and around St. Paul. At an early age, Neiman was fascinated with creative arts. While he had natural talent, he always kept abreast on all the latest artistic styles, genres, and trends. Leroy would carry his art skills into World War II, where he worked as a cook until the end of the conflict. The war, however, opened the doors for Neiman to be recognized as a thriving and exquisite artist. In fact, he utilized his skills to paint several Red Cross backdrops and shows.
Leroy would further his skills by attending the St. Paul School of Art in 1946. He would also attend the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago. After graduating, Neiman would serve on the faculty for the next ten years. During that time, Leroy received countless awards for his paintings and artistic exhibitions. He also cemented his expressionist style, which would later carry over to high-profile painting assignments. His incredible use of color truly left spectators in awe. His brush strokes were also unlike anything seen before.
Leroys passion, however, was painting the top sporting figures and events to the day. This included the Super Bowl, Olympics, Kentucky Derby, and especially professional boxing. Sadly, Leroy Neiman passed away on June 20, 2012.