Film / TVSex & Gender

bisexual boxer who killed his homophobic opponent in the ring is getting a movie about his life

November 20, 2017
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Emile Griffith was a professional boxer from the U.S. Virgin Islands who became a world champion in the welterweight and middleweight classes, while being open about his bisexuality.

But as you can imagine, not everyone was open and supportive of Griffith. In a 1962 title match with Benny Paret, Paret assaulted Griffith by touching his butt while making homophobic remarks. Griffith won the bout by knockout, and Paret, who was still recovering from other injuries from his previous three fights leading up to the title match, never regained consciousness and died in the hospital 10 days later.

A new film directed by Lenny Abrahamson, who is best known for the comedy “Frank” and the Oscar-contender “Room” will explore Griffith’s enigmatic life, based on the book, “A Man’s World: the Double Life of Emile Griffith” by Donald McRae.

“It is so rich that it’s hard to know where to start,” Abrahamson told Deadline. “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 at age 75.

Watch footage of the final seconds of the Griffith-Paret match: