Acrylic, oil, spray and paint marker on 24″ x 24″ wood
“Dirty” Dutch Mantel, aka Zeb Colter, is one of the most influential men in the history of pro wrestling, both in and out of the ring. Born Wayne Keown in 1949, he grew up in the Carolinas before serving in the Vietnam War. He debuted as a wrestler in 1972 as Wayne Cowan before taking on the name he’s been associated with for the majority of his career, “Dirty” Dutch Mantel. He competed largely through the southern United States, and also became a booker for Jerry Jarett’s United States Wrestling Association. In that role, he helped mold many wrestlers who would go on to dominate the sport, most notably a young wrestler with the real name of Steve Williams. As there was already the famous wrestler “Dr Death” Steve Williams, Mantel told the young man that he had a few minutes to come up with a name. The wrestler couldn’t come up with one, so Mantel said, “Okay kid, you’re Steve Austin now.” And that’s the bottom line. With his in-ring career he had notable partnerships with Bobby Jaggers, Cowboy Frankie Laine and Jerry “The King” Lawler. Mantel and Lawler went on to feud with one another, selling out many arenas in the Memphis territory.
In 1990 he had a brief and unmemorable run with WCW before working through 1994 with Smoky Mountain Wrestling as a color commentator and in-ring interviewer. From 1994 to 1997 he worked as a manager for the World Wrestling Federation as Uncle Zebekiah, assisting The Blu Brothers and Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw, aka John Bradshaw Layfield. During this time he also continued to compete for the USWA, where he defeated Lawler to become the promotion’s last ever Unified World Heavyweight Champion. Following this WWF/WWE run he began working for Carlos Colon‘s World Wrestling Council and later its rival International Wrestling Association as a writer/booker through 2003. From 2003-2009 he worked for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling as a writer, producer and agent, with his greatest achievement there was creating TNA’s Knockouts division
After a few years on the independent circuit, he returned to WWE as Zeb Colter, the xenophobic manager of Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro. He has quickly become an invaluable part of the show, getting genuine heel heat from the crowds and even making mainstream headlines when right-wing commentator Glenn Beck took umbrage to the character, saying it was mocking his own beliefs. He continues to prove he can make an integral contribution to the business, even with such a long and notable 40-plus year career behind him.
About the piece: This had to be about the hair. Mantel’s marvelous mustache is central to his persona. I scraped a little paint on the background with some light spritzes of spray paint on it, then painted the face with acrylics. Once that dried, I put in the black parts of the hair with acrylics, then came in with several acrylic paint markers to create the energetic feel of this masterpiece of facial hair.