The life and career of the late great fighter Willie Pep will be getting the film treatment.
“Pep” will soon begin production in the boxer’s hometown of Hartford, Connecticut, with “Band of Brothers” star James Madio playing the lead role as the former featherweight champion born as Guglielmo Papaleo, Deadline reports.
Pep, widely considered a boxing wizard and a defensive savant, is a 1990 International Hall of Fame inductee who retired in 1966 with a record of 229 wins (65 KOs), 11 losses and 1 draw over a 26-year career. He died in 2006 at the age of 84 in Connecticut.
Deadline describes the movie plot like the following: “The sports drama picks up with Pep in 1965, after the limelight has faded. Living with his Italian immigrant parents, a wife half his age and a drug-addled son in a single-family home in Hartford, Pep is tired of obscurity and wants to be a “somebody” again. At the age of 42, with debts mounting and a past that looms large, Pep decides to return to the ring, making a comeback designated by the New York Times as a Top 10 Human Interest Story.”
Other principles slated to appear in the film include actors Keir Gilchrist (Atypical), who will portray Pep’s son Billy Jr., and Ron Livingston (Office Space), who will play as Pep’s manager Bob Kaplan. Robert Kolodny will serve as director for the script written by Steve Loff. The film’s female cast has not been identified yet, according to the report.
Nicknamed "Will o' the Wisp,” the artistic Pep was a two-time champion in the 1940s and was voted as the greatest featherweight of the 20th century by the Associated Press.
He started his career 62-0 and legend has it that he once won a round without throwing a single punch in a 1946 fight against Jackie Graves.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com