During the 1890's Eakins focused his energies on probing portraits, except for a few canvases devoted to boxing and wrestling in which he returned to male athletics, his groundbreaking theme of the early 1870s. Eakins's boxing and wrestling paintings are, however, even bolder in their subject matter than his early rowing pictures. Although the popular press about 1900 featured images of prizefighting and accounts of boxers such as John L. Sullivan, most artists turned away from depicting ring sports, which were associated with sanctioned violence, gambling, and alcohol. For his ringside view of a match in Philadelphia's Arena, Eakins invited Billy Smith, a local featherweight, to pose for the boxer, asked other figures from the boxing world to reenact their real-life roles in his Chestnut Street studio, and enlisted friends and relatives to pose for the spectators. As usual, he minimizes drama, showing Smith catching his breath rather than struggling against Timothy Callahan, his unseen—and ultimately successful—opponent. Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins (July 25, 1844 – June 25, 1916) was an American realist painter, photographer, sculptor, and fine arts educator.