Movie legend Sylvester Stallone was instrumental in the recent posthumous pardoning of heavyweight great Jack Johnson, seeing as how it was Sly who got in touch with President Trump, urging the current commander in chief to do the right thing; which Trump did, last week. Now, the creator of the enormously successful, there-isn’t-a-boxing-fan-who-hasnt-seen-them ‘Rocky’ films, is set to make a movie on the man who ruled the heavyweight world back in 1908 to 1915.
Variety has reported how Stallone, with MGM, will produce the forthcoming film. For years, Stallone has given us fictitious boxing drama and now he will try his hand at producing a film where the boxing historians will be viewing it under a veritable microscope, checking all the historical facts are 100 percent accurate. It will be interesting to see who gets to play “The Galveston Giant,” but as fans know, Sly does enjoy working with real-life fighters in his films – Antonio Tarver, Tommy Morrison and even Joe Frazier and Roberto Duran, amongst others, featuring in the ‘Rocky’ films.
As a fight fan, I’ve for a long time wanted to see a big, big-production film made about Johnson, one of the most fascinating heavyweight champions ever (along with Sonny Liston). There is simply so much material for Stallone and the co-makers of this in-the-works film to use, just because Johnson led such an amazing life in and out of the ring. There have been quite a few boxing bio-pics put out just recently – with Duran, Vinny Pazienza, Chuck Wepner (Stallone’s original inspiration for ‘Rocky Balboa’ of course) and others getting the Silver Screen treatment – but Stallone is set to go much further back in time.
Johnson remains a controversial figure, all these years after his 1946 death, and he is still very much in the spotlight (courtesy of the pardon). If it’s done with the love and care that it should be (and with huge boxing fan Stallone at the helm there is no reason to think this will not be the case), The Jack Johnson Story should be quite a cinematic experience.