ZEKE Wilson mixed it with heavyweight legends including Joe Frazier and Larry Holmes but his biggest battle of all was in a courtroom fighting endemic racism in American boxing.
It was a titanic fight that is being made into a film and Tyrone people have a chance to appear on the big screen in what promises to be an epic movie.
On Saturday auditions will be held in the Silverbirch Hotel in Omagh with extras and speaking roles up for grabs for male and females of all ages.
Wilson fought a unprecedented court battle that defined the view of a modern form of racism, that of same-race discrimination, wherein the perpetrator and the object of the discrimination are of the same racial group.
In September 2000 as a boxing promoter he was the first person in the US to bring a case of same-race discrimination to a Federal court jury, and he won.
A unanimous jury verdict found that the black chairman Wilbert McClure was guilty of racial discrimination along with white Commissioner William Pender and both defendants were costed punitive damages in addition to the compensation awarded by the jury.
Wilson went on to write a book titled ‘The Eighth Round’ about his experiences.
He explained, “McClure charged me $10,000 to put on a boxing event in Massachusetts but white folk came after me and didn’t have to pay anything. I was fight promoter and they were making a black promoter pay more money than a white promoter.
“I could not get a lawyer because it was up against the state in the federal court and the case had no precedent. I did all my deposition and summary judgement myself and won my case in front of a jury of my peers. All 12 voted it was discrimination as a black individual and took away my constitutional rights. It is a powerful story of confronting racial discrimination which is a world-wide problem.
“The film is in the pre-production stage and we start shooting in August. The biggest thing to get is the extras. I want people here to help me put this film together with David Doherty who used to work the ShadowHawk Production in Dublin.”
In the 1970s, a golden era for heavyweight boxing, Wilson was sparing partner to some of greats of the ring including Larry Holmes, Joe Frazier, Leon Spinks and Ron Lyle. He fought on the undercard of a
Spinks fight in Madison Square Gardens.
He added, “The movie is the story of my life. The boxing scenes are going to be big and will be filmed in clubs in Belfast.
“We need people for the gym scenes, the court scene, library scene and restaurants. They won’t be saying much but we want people with the ability to act for minor roles that we can cast them into. I want people here to be part of a great American story.
“We are in pre-production stage and start shooting in August. The film will hit the theatres next March. I am on a mission and I want people here to help me put this film together,” he added.
Auditions will take place in the Silverbirch Hotel in Omagh on Saturday, April 16 between 10am-6pm. Bring along an up-to-date photo to add to application form. Under 18s must have parental consent.
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