Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Mortal Combat: The New Documentary Ring of Fire Tells the Story of a Boxer Who Beat a Man to Death over One Word: "Faggot"

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Mortal Combat: The New Documentary Ring of Fire Tells the Story of a Boxer Who Beat a Man to Death over One Word: "Faggot"

Article excerpt

In March of 1962 reigning boxing champ Emile Griffith was set for a rematch with Benny "the Kid" Paret. During the weigh-in, Paret taunted Griffith with one word, voicing what was an open secret in the boxing world: "Maricon," said Paret, in front of all the media.

The new documentary Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story (airing on USA Network April 20) details what happened next: During the actual match, millions watching TV at home saw Griffith literally pummel Paret to death. (He was taken to the hospital and died 10 days later.)

Codirected by Dan Klores and Ron Berger, the film shows the world Griffith came from and details the repercussions in the sport (which didn't return to television for about a decade) and in the lives of Griffith's and Paret's families. Pete Hamill, Jimmy Breslin, historian Charles Kaiser (The Gay Metropolis), and countless boxing insiders are featured. And the film climaxes with Griffith meeting Paret's son in an emotional reconciliation.

But for gay viewers, the most fascinating angle is the most elusive one: Griffith's sexuality. After being a six-time world champion (and briefly married to a woman), Griffith fell on hard times and worked as a corrections officer. …

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