Emile Griffith – a bisexual boxer who killed an opponent after an anti-gay slur – is getting a movie made about his life. Griffith, a six-time world champion in two weight classes in the 1960s, is best remembered for beating Benny ‘The Kid’ Parret to death on live TV.
Parret is said t have grabbed Griffith's butt and called him a maricón (Spanish for ‘faggot’) at the weigh-ins.
Griffith and boxing were vilified after Parret’s death.
Room-director Lenny Abrahamson and producer Ed Guiney have optioned Donald McRae’s biography of Griffith – A Man’s World: The Double Life Of Emile Griffith – which was reportedly chased by ‘numerous filmmakers.’
‘It is so rich that it’s hard to know where to start,’ he told Deadline in confirming the deal.
‘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.’
In 1992, Griffith was viciously beaten and almost killed by six teens after leaving a gay bar in New York. He was in the hospital for four months after the assault.
‘You look at how closely his two worlds intersected,’ Abrahamson said.
‘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.’
In his later life, Griffith suffered from dementia pugilistica and died in 2013.