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Ray Winstone and Matt Hookings to star in boxing biopic

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Ray Winstone

Ray Winstone is set to portray the trainer of boxer Jem Belcher in a new biopic about the half-blind bare-knuckle prize-fighter, with Matt Hookings starring as the titular character.

Winstone, a noted boxing enthusiast himself, will play Bill Warr in Prizefighter: The Life of Jem Belcher, a Camelot Films production.

The true but little known story of Belcher saw the Brit rise from poverty to become the youngest ever boxing world champion at the age of 19, in the year 1800. After being blinded in one eye following a tragic accident, Belcher found himself struggling to defend his hard-earned title but recovered and ultimately gained a place in sporting history as a pioneer of modern boxing.

“This is the movie that every boxing fan has been waiting for as it tells for the first time the real origins of the modern-day sport that they love,” Hookings told Deadline, musing: “Jem’s life was tragic and unique but highly inspirational and he should take his proper place in the history as a true forgotten hero.”

Director Daniel Graham, most recently known for his work The Obscure Life of the Grand Duke of Corsica, stated: “As a director, I am fascinated with characters who find unconventional ways of doing things – even if it means sowing the seed of their own destruction.”

He added: “Prizefighter is an immensely exciting opportunity to realise my vision set amidst a pivotal point in England’s history.”

Marton Csokas, Jodhi May, Steven Berkoff, Julian Glover, and William Moseley will also feature in the film, and additional actors are in talks.

Production is scheduled to begin in Wales next month.

– Cover Media