by The Green Machine
There are quite a few boxing related movies out there. If you look real hard you’ll find plenty you never heard of and some aren’t as old as you would think. Of course the boxing-themed movie has become rarer these days and any biographical release based on real fighters is almost non-existent. Will Smith did an excellent job in Ali, and Meg Ryan did well in her portrayal of Jackie Kallen in “On the Ropes.” With Micky Ward’s story, “The Fighter” due out soon, here are a few other boxing personalities whose stories would make for entertaining movies if done right. This isn’t a “top five”, just a random five.
Vinny Paz (Pazienza) – Rocky pounding raw meat? That’s kid stuff; try shadow boxing and weight training while wearing a halo. Say what you will about Paz, but the guy’s always been fun to watch before, during, and after his fights. He put his heart and soul into every one and overcame an injury that would have sidelined most. A movie on Paz’s life entitled “Paz” is rumored to be in the works starring “Twilight’s” Peter Facinelli. While Facinelli wouldn’t be my first choice to portray Paz, we’ll see how the movie comes out if it’s actually made.
Jack Johnson – We had “The Great White Hope”, but that was 40 years ago, surely we can come up with a better biopic now. Johnson was in the middle of such turmoil in his time that his boxing career could just be a sideline to the story. In any case, one of boxing’s most controversial and legendary (and some would say greatest) heavyweights deserves his story to be told again.
Archie Moore – The “Ol’ Mongoose” is an anomaly in boxing history. In a career that spanned nearly 30 years and 220 fights, Moore was a successful fighter well into his 40’s, no easy feat even by today’s standards, but take into consideration the training and nutrition information the world lacked back when Moore was fighting. A troubled life before boxing and a politically active one after, a great film could be written around his life.
Richie Melito – Yeah I said it. Half of you are asking why, and the other half are asking “who the hell is Richie Melito?” A New York native and up and coming heavyweight, Melito’s career came crumbling down when it was revealed that a majority of his opponents had been paid off to take a dive. The fights were rigged without Melito’s knowledge (yet another example of boxing handlers abusing fighters for their own gain), but the corruption reached far and wide. Court hearings, prison terms, you have all the makings for a legal drama. Melito himself may not be movie worthy, but the story is.
Billy Collins / Luis Resto – Need I explain why? The effect of the glove tampering in this bout reached way beyond the two fighters and still resonates today. Collins’ life spirals out of control resulting in an apparent suicide, Resto goes to prison and is banned from any boxing related activity for well over 20 years, Resto’s trainer Panama Lewis does his time and still lives a pretty good life. There’s plenty of material to go with and a great movie can be made to tell this story in a non-documentary style film.
Keep in mind; my thoughts on this were from a Hollywood perspective, not so much a boxing fans perspective. While there’s a ton of fighters more deserving of Hollywood notoriety, their stories don’t always translate well to the box office. Then again, Hollywood can turn just about anything into a great movie with the right vision and that old “based on actual events” phrase they use so often.