Iowa Staters show their love for their athletic teams in unique ways. For Jeff Fox, maybe his passion for the Cyclones could be categorized as fanatical.
Fox, a 1991 graduate of Iowa State, may have elevated his fandom status with his recent act of zeal for the Cardinal and Gold. It’s a story that will make most Cyclone fans stand up and applaud.
It all started innocently with a recent vacation to Europe with Fox and his girlfriend, Samantha. Samantha is a converted Cyclone fan, who, along with Fox, counts Georges Niang as their favorite athlete. One of the stops the couple made was to Prague, Czech Republic, and the city’s John Lennon Wall was a sight-seeing must. The wall has become a tourist attraction because of its Lennon-inspired graffiti and pieces of lyrics from Beatles’ songs.
After perusing the wall for a short time, Fox noticed something that ticked him off. It wasn’t a quote from Lennon. It was art that didn’t belong there in his mind.
“It just jumped off the page to me,” Fox remembered. “We were there visiting the wall and I see the words Rock Chalk painted on it. Those are offensive words to me, so I immediately thought I had to do something about it.”
Fox’ brain started to grind. What should he do about this? Is it even worth it? The answers to both of these questions was a definite yes. Fox began concocting a plan.
“I decided to go big,” Fox said. “I came up with the idea to find the best graffiti artist to paint an Iowa State logo over the Rock Chalk.”
Procuring a graffiti artist to perform the task was Fox’s next mission. He started asking around. He sought the concierge at his hotel for assistance. It was his lucky day.
“The concierge told me it was one of the most interesting requests they have ever had,” Fox said with a chuckle. “They notified me that they found someone and set me up this guy named Kaer, and he is one of Eastern Europe’s most famous graffiti artists. This guy even had his own agent.”
After printing off an Iowa State logo from the internet as a guide, Fox sat back and watched Kaer do his thing. As each letter of the logo slowly appeared on the concrete slate, Fox couldn’t help but grinning.
Kaer’s work turned out better than he ever thought.
“This guy was serious,” Fox said. “He put time in this painting, making sure the outlines were correct and everything. It took him about an hour and a half to paint this thing. I told him to make sure the Iowa State logo is put right over top of the Rock Chalk.”
To cap off the finished product, Fox needed one more item added. This was for Samantha.
“The last thing I asked was to put Georges’ (Niang) No. 31 at the bottom,” Fox said. “Samantha and I love Georges.”
Fox felt proud when he gazed at the Cyclone mark on the famous European wall. He stuck around for a while to kibitz with tourists about what the logo means to him.
“I was so proud when Kaer finished it,” Fox recollected. “It was so well done. I just love it. It seems like I took a 1,000 pictures of it.”
A native of Riceville, Iowa, Fox eventually returned from his European vacation to his current home of Houston, Texas where he makes his living as a successful commodity trader.
Despite the distance in miles, the die-hard Cyclone fan still tries to attend as many games as he can. He has men’s basketball season tickets, and the 2016-17 season can’t get here soon enough.
“I am really excited for both football and basketball, but I have always been a little bit psychotic about Iowa State basketball,” said Fox. “We went to Denver and Chicago for the NCAA Tournament last year and had a blast.”
A piece of Cyclone Nation is now a part of the John Lennon Wall thanks to Fox. Although Fox doesn’t want to admit it, he’s also thankful for that mysterious Kansas Jayhawk fan who once scribbled his allegiance on the wall.
“It totally came to me right on the spot,” said Fox. “If I hadn’t seen the Rock Chalk, I would have never of thought about it.”