|On The Ropes - The Movie|
|Written by Steve Wilburn, Siobhan Tobin|
|Thursday, 07 August 2008 19:28|
The true story of Polish American Craig “Gator” Bodzianowski, the "up-and-coming" cruiserweight boxer who, after losing part of one leg in a motorcycle accident, is told his boxing career is over. In true hero fashion, Gator makes one of the greatest professional sports comebacks ever, culminating in a WBA World Championship Fight.
(“On The Ropes” is currently in pre-production and provides an attractive vehicle for interested investors. Once complete financing is achieved, filming will begin.)
By now, most people have watched at least one of the Rocky movies, the fairytale story of a club fighter who gets a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship. Gator’s story bears some resemblance, but his challenges are far greater. Rocky’s biggest challenge is in overcoming his bad attitude; while Gator overcomes what everyone considers a “career-ending” injury.
In the late seventies and early eighties, Gator compiles an enviable amateur boxing record of 62 wins and 5 losses. His only losses are to champions and soon-to-be champions. Gator then takes the professional boxing world by storm. By early 1984, he is undefeated with 13 wins, 11 by knockout. He is determined to become the cruiserweight champion of the world. He trains hard, always keeping his championship dream in sight.
Unfortunately, as his winning record grows, so does his ego. His training sessions become fewer and further apart, while he develops a reckless lifestyle.
LOSING A LEG
Recalling the words of his father, "never quit," and remembering his passion to train hard in order to compete in the world championship, Gator has faith that if he can jog, he can run; and if he can run, he will box again. He opts for amputation. He's 23 years old.
the family home, taxidermied animal carcasses covered the walls. Locked gun
cases were filled with often used guns. A multitude of dogs were housed in pens
in the back yard, while well-fed piranhas lived in an oversized fish tank in
the den. Throughout the years, the
Bodzianowskis also raised pigeons, goats, chickens, various snakes, an
alligator, and even baboons. It was a
virtual Wild Kingdom in the suburbs! All the animals at the Bodzianowski residence
thrived; except the hamster, who suffered from insomnia!
Even before high school, Gator was known in his neighborhood
as a formidable opponent in any fight.
Once in high school, he never quite fit in with the fashionable rich
kids, nor did he care to. Gator made his own fashion statement by asking his
father to tattoo an Izod alligator tattoo on his left pectoral, in
approximately the same place as the symbol appeared on the popular shirts. His mother, Gloria, then strategically cut holes
in his shirts to expose his new tattoo; thus, he earned his nickname
"Gator." None of the rich kids dared to
make fun of Gator's "poor man's" fashion statement. Becoming a boxer was a
logical step for the kid with the reputation as a "brawler."
Prior to his accident, Gator's "never say die" attitude was forged by two important occurrences. Days before his most important fight to date, a Championship bout, his dearest brother Billy, is accidentally shot and dies. Devastated, Gator considers canceling the fight. His coach and mentor, Bill O'Connor, encourages Gator to enter the ring in remembrance of his brother. Bodzianowski fights and wins his first Championship. Four years later, just one week before Gator's 13th professional fight, O'Connor commits suicide. This time, Gator doesn't hesitate. Fighting in O'Connor's memory, he wins a 10-round decision match.
Regaining passion and focus, Gator trains ardently. He is a changed man; his reckless ways a
thing of the past.
Getting back into the ring unearths yet another challenge for Gator. No local boxer is willing to spar with an amputee; let alone fight him professionally. Resorting to desperate measures, Gator's manager, Jerry Lenza, arranges a match with an out-of-state heavyweight contender, outweighing Gator by at least 15 lbs. Neither his opponent nor his opponent's camp are aware that Gator is wearing a prosthetic leg. The first round is rough and Gator is knocked around the ring. With each round, he regains confidence, and by the 4th round, Gator is clearly leading the fight. Suddenly, a loud snapping sound is heard, and Gator falls. His coach, Nate Bolden, rushes into the ring. His opponent and camp are both astounded and terrified when Gator's foot comes off in Nate's hand. Nate is relieved to discover a broken bolt on his prosthetic leg and that Gator is not injured. His opponent's coach, however, is infuriated at being duped into fighting an amputee.
Over the next year, Bodzianowski continues to improve and more sparring partners emerge willing to fight him. He seeks to regain his boxing license to fight professionally, but the Boxing Commission refuses, even when threatened with litigation. Jerry garners sympathy for Gator from the media, and under duress, the Boxing Commission finally relents issuing a provisional license. At last, Gator can fight professionally again.
Just a year and a half after Bodzianowski's accident, it becomes an
international news story that an amputee is making a professional boxing
comeback. Gator knocks his opponent out in the 2nd round. Rumors that the fight
was staged follow and bring Gator's comeback into question. As Gator knocks out more opponents,
controversy ensues and his critics increase in number, refusing to believe a
"cripple" could knock out able-bodied fighters.
In 1986, Gator wins the Illinois Heavyweight Championship, allowing him to take on high ranked challengers. Gator loses only 3 out of 27 fights on points scored; but he is never knocked out. In 1989, he wins the WBA Intercontinental America's Cruiserweight Championship, finally silencing and putting to shame his critics once and for all.
During the first round of the fight, Gator comes out swinging and handily pounds on the champion. In the 2nd round, a right side uppercut from the champion breaks Gator's rib, curtailing his right punch. Less than a month before the fight, Gator had broken the same rib and it had not fully healed. This re-injury allows Daniels to score multiple points. In Gator's corner, his coaches, Pat and Primo LaCassa, encourage him to throw in the towel. Gator refuses and informs them they will have to carry him out because he will never quit. Back in the ring, Daniels closes Gator's right eye with one punch, and gains more points. Going the distance, Gator persists, giving Daniels a memorable fight. Against all odds, Gator appears to strengthen as the fight progresses. In the final rounds, some say Gator is beginning to overpower Daniels. The unstoppable Gator finishes the fight with one leg, one arm, and one eye functioning properly. Despite grueling pain, he never allows Daniels to knock him down, not even once. Unfortunately, when the points are tallied, Daniels wins the championship.
by Steve Wilburn - Producer/Screenwriter and Siobhan Tobin - Web Developer
To learn more about the film, check out Steve Wilburn's company website, www.WindyCityImages.com
The website includes a documentary short
about Gator, "Still Standing," which
has been a primary fundraiser for the film, "On The Ropes." "Still Standing"
can be viewed at the following link: http://WindyCityImages.com/stillstanding.php