ByAmy Kaplan, writer at
Senior Staff Writer // Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @PhotoAmy33
Amy Kaplan

New Jersey based artist, James O'Neal, who created a life-size wood carving of Conor McGregor, has struck gold again. He's revealed his next masterpiece - an incredible carving of the late Muhammad Ali.

The carving took just over four months and began as a large black walnut trunk.

O'Neal spoke with Champions and explained the process of picking Ali for his next piece.

"I had cut the large black walnut tree down a year ago while I was carving the McGregor," he said. "After that was done I was debating what black fighter to do, because the color of the wood was so dark. Then Muhammad Ali passed away and I saw what he meant to the world and decided it should be him."

He then spent the next four months carving away at the trunk to form the finished project we see today.

"I spent about two days with a chainsaw taking off the bulk of the unneeded wood," O'Neal said. "Then I spent the next four months with a mallet and chisels gradually taking it down, working from pictures of him. After sanding it, it was finished with a clear polyurethane. It stands 8 foot 3 inches and probably weighs over 350 pounds."

Like the McGregor piece, he is open to selling, but only for the right price.

"Not sure where it will end up," he said. "I like having it in my home but if offered enough I would be open to selling it. In the meantime [I am] anxious to show it to everyone."

The piece will be on display in Philadelphia in December.

For his next project, O'Neal has chosen Invicta champion Cris Cyborg, which he hopes to start in December.

"I feel like Cyborg needs to be done from oak which shouldn't be hard to come up with," he said.

McGregor and Ali sculptures side by side
McGregor and Ali sculptures side by side


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