Hes the 6-foot-5 super-heavyweight boxer with a degree in fine art. A former lifeguard, rugby prospect and Sacramento State cheerleader whose most cherished work is a Muhammad Ali painting.Meet Team GBs Joe Joyce, one of the favourites to land a gold in the ring at the Rio Olympics.The 30-year-old is as happy waxing lyrical about Picassos Cubism as Cubas pugilists and appears to have lived a more-than-full life already. Hes almost as intriuiging as his inspiration, Ali, was, and a talented artist, in a very different way.I wasnt really a boxing fan as a kid but everyone loves Ali, dont they? Joyce said.It was the messages he brought across, the way he spoke, the courageous stances he took on things and then, of course, his boxing skills. To me, hes been a great icon to look up to, a real role model.Talking at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, Joyce was among the British Olympians preparing for the Rio Games in a boxing gym dominated by two vast photographs of Ali.One features the young Cassius Clay receiving his light-heavyweight gold medal in Rome 1960. Joyces own portrait of the Greatest is a fiery image of him holding up his hand swathed in boxing tape, with passion in his eyes and a mouth in overdrive.To me, that [guy is a] real inspiration. Every day, said the Englishman.Ali would have liked Joyce, you suspect, even if personality-wise, they would have taken up opposite corners.Celebratory back flips in the ring apart, there is little of the Americans outrageous showmanship in Joyces make-up.However, there is a quiet charisma and the sort of imposing presence that only a 17-stone colossus can radiate.Reflective and laid back when interviewed, Joyce the fighter was called a beast by?Anthony Joshua, Britains holder of the Olympic super-heavyweight title who has gone on as a professional to own the IBF version of the world heavyweight title.Outside the ring I can be very laid back, he said. Yet if youre trying to beat me, to take away what Ive got, my success, Ill want to beat you and Ill leave it all out there in the ring. Im all business there.Theres no great artistic flair with me in the ring. Im probably more mechanical than Ali but Ive only been boxing since I was 22. Sometimes I wish maybe Id started at 18.The reason Joyce didnt start 12 years ago was because his intelligent, artistic bent and all-round sporting talent sent him on so many other journeys of experimentation.Oh, you heard about the cheerleader stuff? he said, when asked to reflect on the semester, during his final year studying at Middlesex University, when he went on exchange to Sacramento State.I wasnt waving pom-poms! he promptly protested. I was chatting to this cheerleader there and she said, Oh, you should come to practice with us.It turned out they were looking for strong blokes and it was a bit like gymnastics. I learned about tumbling and I had to throw the girl up in the air and catch her by her feet.The worst thing about cheerleading is the actual cheerleading bit, all the clapping and cheering lets go team and all that. At the basketball, the players on court were all looking at me, this tall English guy, like, Mate, shouldnt you be out here with us?Joyce probably could have been a decent basketball player, too, such has been his all-round sporting prowess. He was good at karate and kung fu -- Bruce Lee was another of his best paintings -- played under-18s county rugby for Surrey as a lock forward, long jumped and triple jumped to a high standard. He also acted as a swimming instructor.When he saw some guys playing American Football at Londons Lee Valley athletics track during his track and field training, he couldnt resist having a go at that, too, until he got bored with chasing balls around.Nothing on the sporting front, though, tickled Joyce like the moment he had a go at thumping a punchbag in the Middlesex University gym; it was love at first thwack.Asked whether he believes he really is a talented artist, Joyce shrugged: Yeah, Im pretty good actually.Artistically, he is into abstract works and symbolism. The work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, the young American street artist became a pop icon before his death at 27 from a heroin overdose, he admires.Joyce is fascinated by iconography, too. Indeed, he once painted a series of portraits of modern-day icons. As well as Ali and Lee, he chose Beyonce, Michael Jackson and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena.The common thread? They got to the very peak of their professions, he said. Boxings the vehicle to take me to the top of a profession.Good judges believe he has a chance. Hes won gold in the Commonwealth Games and European Games; hes beaten Cubas best in Cuba and has stood on the podium at the world championships.Like Joshua and so many others before him, Joyce sees an Olympic gold as the last stop before a lucrative pro career in the heavyweight division.Heavyweights peak in their late 30s so it might be the ideal time to start a pro career after the Games, he said. Ill be well-experienced then, ready to take on the pros and as its a really exciting time for the heavyweight division at the moment -- it could be perfect timing.Inevitably, and maybe a bit tiresomely for Joyce, his name always has seemingly always been linked to that of Joshua, with whom he has enjoyed plenty of lively sparring sessions.Maybe he can punch his way out of the brilliant young world champs shadow, especially after he qualified for Rio by defeating Azerbaijans Magomedrasul Majidov, the last man to beat Joshua, in the European qualifying tournament in Turkey.For the moment, Joyces art ambitions are on hold. He would normally work from a little studio at the flat he shares with his art-loving mum in south London.While he was training and living in the northern English city of Sheffield, though, he admitted: I get ideas for painting and sketches and I even bought a canvas and some paints the other day but then thought, Nah ... I cant have oil paint going on the carpet when Im renting a place!I can continue my career in boxing while Im still young but when thats over and my body cant take the punishment any more, I could still do my masters degree to get my art back going again. Even a beaten up old boxer, he added with a shrug, is able to lift a paint brush.Joyce only had one of his oil paintings put on public display when he was at university. But there was a gallery interested in exhibiting my work somewhere in Europe; it would have been too much to get the paintings there and take myself there too, he said. But, one day, who knows?Its quite hard to make something of yourself in art, sell paintings, make the big bucks. So maybe I could use the success I have in boxing as a vehicle to promote my art.Masterpieces from the hand that knocked over opponents on the road to Olympic and world titles? Maybe people might want to own a Joyce, he said. I might be able to auction it off to the highest bidder. 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In the relay, Canada took control six laps from the finish line to beat Russia and the Netherlands. LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Sen. Charles Schumer, on the eve of the Summer Olympics, is calling on the House to follow his chambers lead and make the cash prizes won by U.S. medalists tax-exempt in future games.The New York Democrat, visiting the Winter Olympics training facility in Lake Placid on Tuesday, said the Internal Revenue Service shouldnt impose a victory tax on athletes who work hard training year-round.The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent in July before the current recess began. The House is scheduled to return Sept. 6, after the summer games in Brazil are over.The U.S. Olympic Committee pays $25,000 to gold medal winners, $15,000 for silver medalists and $10,000 for bronze. Athletes have to report the income on their federal tax returns.The bill would also exempt prizes for Paralympic athletes. The exemption would not apply to commercial endorsements.Our Olyympian and Paralympic athletes should be worried about breaking world records, not breaking the bank, when they earn a medal, Schumer said.ddddddddddddhile some athletes who represent the U.S. in the Olympics, like tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams, also make millions of dollars as paid professionals, many other Olympians participate in more obscure and less lucrative sports.Schumer was accompanied by Andrew Weibrecht, a Lake Placid native and World Cup alpine skier who won bronze and silver medals, bobsled silver medalist Justin Olson and luge silver medalist Gordy Sheer.USA Luge chief executive Jim Leahy said the federal tax places a hardship on athletes and unfairly taxes them for representing the U.S. and reaching the top of their sports. ' ' '