“The HAPAwards recognise outstanding American and African individuals whose lives have been marked by extraordinary accomplishments.”
Boxing and movie fans in South Africa and the United States have warmed to the news that ‘Gerrie’, a film dedicated to the trailblazing achievements of Africa’s first world heavyweight boxing champion Gerrie Coetzee, will hit the silver screen at the end of the year in Johannesburg and Washington DC.
David ‘Skip’ Hartquist, an American movie producer, said that after the announcement was made three months ago there has been a heightened sense of anticipation as Coetzee has always been revered among US boxing fans.
“Our initial research showed that Coetzee was popular in America and that was confirmed when he was honoured by the Hollywood and African Prestigious Awards (HAPAwards) in Los Angeles in November 2017.
“The HAPAwards recognise outstanding American and African individuals whose lives have been marked by extraordinary accomplishments.
“His Hollywood accolade brought back memories of that extraordinary night in September 1983, when as a rank underdog he annexed the world heavyweight title by knocking out the hitherto undefeated Michael Dokes at the Richfield Coliseum in Ohio.
Hartquist said Coetzee was greatly admired because as a white South African he threw the law book out of the window during the apartheid era. He adopted a black child and he employed an Indian businessman as his media spokesperson in the mid-1980s, prompting consternation among SA’s white lawmakers.
“Coetzee (pictured) opposed racial separation, he was a unifier,” Hartquist said.
“The movie will perfectly capture the drama of the event and with the material that we’ve already obtained, suggests it has the hallmarks of a great boxing film. It will be a fitting tribute to Coetzee’s athletic achievements, his humility, his moral courage and simply being a great guy.”
While Coetzee may not have endeared himself to the apartheid regime, he had a fan in Nelson Mandela. During his 27-year imprisonment (1962-1989) Mandela had occasions listened to Coetzee’s fights on the radio. After his release, Mandela requested that Coetzee visit him and a meeting was arranged in Johannesburg. Mandela also presented him with a medal.
Executive producer Kenddrie Utuk of American film company Fontabila Productions has slated the film to premiere on two starry occasions in Johannesburg and Washington DC.
Filming in Johannesburg will start in mid-April with SA director Koos Roets at the helm. The cast will include several SA actors. hereafter production will continue in Washington and at the Richfield Coliseum in Ohio.
African News Agency (ANA)