This is an incredibly moving documentary. At least it was for me. I caught it on the Sundance channel.
It's about the championship boxer from the Virgin islands who was rumored to be gay back in the late 1950s and early '60s, at a time when no public figure was known to be gay except, as the film points out, maybe Liberace. Certainly no athelete, and definitely no boxer.
He captured a couple of championships in different weight classes. But then in a fight to regain one of those championship belts in early 1962 against Benny Paret, who had been making derogatory remarks about Griffith's sexuality, Griffith ended up pummeling Paret so intensely that the man seems to have been knocked into a coma before he even hit the floor. A come he never recovered from, dying not many days later and leaving an impact on Griffith that can only be imagined but the film captures pretty well.
(It left an impact on boxing as well, being the first televised fight to actually record a fight that ended in death. In fact it led to the Friday night fights that had been a staple of TV for many years—I used to watch them with my father every week when I was a kid—being kicked off the air for at least a decade.)
Then decades later, drunk and leaving a gay bar in Manhattan, Griffith was attacked vicously by a gang of young homophobic thugs who beat him so badly he almost died. He spent a month in the hopsital but never entirely recovered his cognitive facilities.
Seeing this story and the love and forgiveness Griffith found in his life is overwhelmingly real and poignant and so far from the usual cliches and stereotypes that fictional characters in movies end up displaying, it makes this film one of a kind, like so many great documentaries.
If you get the chance to see it, I think you'll be surprised by the deep feelings it evokes, despite what may be an intial resistance to so violent a subject and the seemingly unknowable characters at the heart of it. I was.