Director Lenny Abrahamson and producer Ed Guiney, the team behind the Oscar-winning film Room, are once again joining forces, this time for a biopic about Emile Griffith, the bisexual boxer who killed his homophobic competitor during a 1962 match.
Rumors of the biopic have been swirling since 2015, but now it looks like it’s actually happening.
Just to give you a little backstory: On March 24, 1962, American boxer Griffith, who was defending his world title, was paired against Cuban fighter Benny “The Kid” Paret at Madison Square Garden. During the weigh-in for the fight, Paret allegedly mocked Griffith, who was rumored to be bisexual, by grabbing his butt and calling him a “maricón” (the Spanish word for “faggot”).
The fight was a doozy. During the 12th round, Griffith cornered Paret then proceeded to jab and uppercut him into unconsciousness. The referee eventually separated them. Paret had to be taken away in a stretcher. He died in a hospital 10 days later.
Related: Gay boxer Yusaf Mack beats up homophobic Twitter troll inside barber shop
Today, it is believed that Paret actually died from injuries sustained from an earlier fight. Still, the match changed Griffith’s life, making him notorious in the fighting world.
Abrahamson tells deadline.com:
As a character study, Griffith is incredibly compelling. There was a gentleness and innocence about him, and he never seemed conflicted about his sexuality; indeed he found joy in it. He inhabited two worlds – the underground gay scene in New York in the ‘60s and the macho world of boxing. The societal stigma at that time was dreadful and created a crushing pressure on him.
Griffith died in 2013 of dementia pugilistica, a neurodegenerative disease found in those who have suffered traumatic brain injuries or blows to the head. He was 75 years old.
The biopic is expected to be released in 2018 or 2019.
Related: Legendary Bisexual Boxer Emile Griffith Dead At 75
I’ll be looking forward to this. Emile Griffith’s life story reads like a novel.
Ron Berger’s and Dan Klores’ 2005 documentary, Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story offers an enthralling overview of Griffith’s life. Also, jazz musician Terence Blanchard composed an opera, Champion, about Griffith, with a libretto by actor and playwright Michael Cristofer.
Queerty did cover his death back in 2013.
Its really a damn shame that the black studio owner who made his millions putting on a dress and stereotyping older black women is not behind this production and passes on just about anything dealing with openly black gay men. I know I’m stepping out of bounds so to speak but my opinion is my opinion regardless of the back lash that I’m sure is to come.
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I’m a bit disappointed in myself that I’ve never heard of this story! This is very interesting
@Bob LaBlah, you are entitled to your opinion – I couldn’t agree more. That being said, there is also nothing wrong with questioning opinions that are heavy on conjecture and accusation – but exceedingly light on facts. How do you know, for a fact, that TP “passes on just about anything dealing with openly black gay men?” Answer: you don’t know. I’m not much of a fan of TP’s movies or TV shows – but there is or was a television show about well-to-do black families based in Atlanta, with one family member being a young and down-low gay son. His sexuality was at odds with his family and his closet caused friction with his upfront partners who chafed at his hiding and pressured him to come out. The guys he was involved with were open and defiant and hot as hell. One of his lovers was portrayed by Kristian Kordula (google him!) and another actor characterized an extremely good-looking married and sexually confused white police officer. I only saw a couple of episodes, but I was pleasantly surprised at the positive approach taken towards struggling gay men and the subtle jabs taken at some homophobic black folk who seek to impose their righteousness on others. It was still a TP production – not that good – but the gay angle and hot guys made it palatable for a bit of a watch. So Bob, you were wrong. PS: My young and nosy niece (reading this over my shoulder) says the show is called “The Haves and Have Nots” and it has been on air for about 4 years now.
I may as well ask: why didnt you list the name of the show or a youtube vid on that show? If your going to point something out that needs to be set strait you should go the full route. Now you make it seem like a half-assed attempt to put me in my place but at least we all learned something from both of our comments with mine prompting you to promote the good deeds of one of your kind. Don’t be afraid to speak you mind as you can clearly see I do. I doubt if you’ll get banned for it so please get over that fear.
@BobLaBlah and @OrchidIslander, you both make great points. TP has included openly gay characters in his films and shows, but his record is mixed. He added an offensive, anti-gay storyline to his movie version of for colored girls, even though that wasn’t in the original and it just reinforced anti-DL/anti-Black gay panic around HIV/AIDS. He also said he was going to retire Madea, but he continues to include that stereotypical character in movies. I often wish that even if he doesn’t make gay films himself, he would at least financially back movies and programs that presented affirmative or at least complex portrayals of Black LGBTQ people. With The Haves and Have Nots he’s gotten better, but he’s still a bit behind Black gay directors like Lee Daniels and straight ones like Barry Jenkins.
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