New biopic to focus on bisexual boxer who beat opponent to death after homophobic slurs
A bisexual boxing champion who beat an opponent to death after he was called a “faggot” will be the subject of a new film.
Famed 1960s boxer Emile Griffith was world champion in the welterweight and middleweight classes – but he rose to infamy after a 1962 title match with Benny Paret.
Prior to the title match, Griffith was incensed when his opponent pinched his bum and called him a maricón (faggot). In the match following the incident, Griffith brutally beat Paret, securing a knockout. Paret died ten days later, having never regained consciousness.
Irish director Lenny Abrahamson is gearing up to take on Griffith’ story as his next production.
He told Deadline: “It is so rich that it’s hard to know where to start.
“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.”
“You look at how closely his two worlds intersected… just how different are they, when the sport is such a celebration of the male body and the beauty of its athleticism.
“Go one step further, and inject the tiniest sense of sexuality, and people are up in arms. Griffith himself once said a quote that just floored me. ‘They forgave me for killing a man, but they couldn’t forgive me for loving a man.’
“That to me was so powerful and such a crazy contradiction. And it is still relevant today.”