David Oyelowo to star as Sugar Ray Robinson

Continuing his step up to the big time, David Oyelowo is attached to a biopic of legendary boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, following turns in upcoming heavyweights Jack Reacher and Lincoln.

Adapted by Wil Haywood from his biography Sweet Thunder: The Life And Times Of Sugar Ray Robinson, the story is of a life as eventful inside the ring as out of it. Regularly cited as the greatest boxer of all time, Robinson’s glittering career saw a flamboyant lifestyle eventually lead to a retirement lived in poverty until his death in 1989.

Robinson spent his earlier years watching a sport controlled by organized crime spiral into decline as inferior fighters were given a leg up by the mob. Highlights of his career include his instrumental involvement in exposing the underside of the business, taming Jake Lamotta five times and being ranked, pound-for-pound, the greatest fighter ever.

The idea emerged on the set of Lee Daniels’ forthcoming film The Butler, where he, Oyelowo and scribe Danny Strong shared an admiration of Robinson and started to flesh out a story based on Haywood’s biography. It’s early days yet, but pugilism has enjoyed a firm track record of success on the big screen, so another story of triumph in the ring should prove a fight worth catching, especially given Robinson’s as-yet untouched cinematic profiling.

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