As LGBTQ+ representation is just beginning to flourish in Hollywood Oscar-winning director Lenny Abrahamson is set to direct a groundbreaking documentary about boxer Emile Griffith.
Griffith was a bisexual boxer who dominated in the ring during the early 1960s and was even crowned as the Fighter of the Year by The Ring magazine in 1964. The fight that made his name live on in infamy was a title match against Benny Paret in 1964. Before the Madison Square Garden bout even began, Paret insulted Griffith by hurling homophobic remarks at him and grabbing his butt. Griffith maintained his composure at that time and took it all out on Paret during the fight by knocking him out. Paret had been beaten so badly that he’d never recover from his injuries and would die in the hospital ten days later.
The riveting story has been in talks to hit the big screen since 2015 when Deadline reported that Abrahamson and Ed Gurley would team up again after working together on the Brie Larson-led film Room. But now it looks like it’s actually going to happen.
“It is so rich that it’s hard to know where to start,” he told Deadline a few year ago. “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’s life has been previously chronicled in the documentary called Ring of Fire in 2005, but the new film will be based on the book A Man’s World: The Double Life of Emile Griffith by Donald McRae.
Sadly, Griffith passed away in 2013 at the age of 75— but not before he’d get inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.