Magazine article Screen International

Bert Marcus & Mike Tyson, Champs

Magazine article Screen International

Bert Marcus & Mike Tyson, Champs

Article excerpt

Director Bert Marcus and subject Mike Tyson tell Jeremy Kay about how their boxing documentary, Champs, transcends the world of sports.

For the last few years Bert Marcus has been making a name for himself getting behind a certain type of documentary.

The Los Angeles-based head of Bert Marcus Productions - and former radio producer and correspondent - produced Teenage Paparazzo and How To Make Money Selling Drugs.

Champs, which The Works is selling here at AFM, marks his directorial debut and casts a spotlight on three of the most acclaimed US boxers of the last century - Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Bernard Hopkins.

Yet this is not primarily a film about pugilism. "We tried to create a story that transcends sport and touches on some of the subjects that [elicit emotions] we can all relate to," says Marcus ahead of AFM.

"Broken homes, poverty, lack of formal education, abuse and yet [these people] have the resources to be successful.

"The irony is these guys sought out one of the most violent sports to get away from violence. But there's this cycle that gets them back to that.

These guys are prepared to be champions inside the ring but not outside.

"We as a society turn a blind eye to it. These guys are humans, people who have been through major, major life struggles. They're three of the most revered guys, but there's something about their lives you will be able to relate to and that's why they were encouraged to be a part of this."

All three of the subjects in Champs have been world champions. Tyson and Holyfield ruled the heavyweight divisions, while Hopkins fought predominantly as a middleweight.

Remarkably the latter is the reigning IBF and WBA light-heavyweight champion and at the age of 49 is due to defend his titles this weekend.

Rise to the challenge

Marcus shot the film on and off for two years, visiting the men at their homes in Las Vegas (Tyson), Atlanta (Holyfield) and Philadelphia (Hopkins).

He had known Tyson for a while and the boxer introduced the film-maker to the other two fighters.

'What people don't understand about this game is that it's a lonely sport. You're in your head most of your career'Mike Tyson

What unifies the three men is that each was raised by his mother and has experienced challenges, either due to poor choices in early life or difficulties that manifested themselves outside the ring later in their careers. …

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