Connecticut Boxing Legend Helps Prep Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio Production
Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way Productions has contacted Connecticut native John Scully, a former boxer and longtime trainer. Scully is training Band of Brothers actor James Madio to play Willie Pep, the late great featherweight champion who grew up in Hartford and Middletown.
The Iceman, John Scully won Outstanding Boxer awards in 1987 and 1988 and then went pro in '88 and was inducted into the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame in 2010.
According to the Hartford Courant, Scully was brought in to teach Madio how to look like a real fighter, act as a fighter, and mimic Willie Pep's technique, which focuses on footwork, and punches. The movie will be filmed in Hartford, where production has already begun.
Nicknamed "Will o' the Wisp," most boxing fans are aware that Pep is considered a boxing wizard who, throughout a 26-year career had a record of 229 wins (65 KOs), 11 losses, and one draw. He was inducted into the International Hall of Fame in 1990. Pep died in 2006 at the age of 84.
Willie Pep was born as Guglielmo Papaleo, according to deadline.com, and is considered one of the greatest fighters of all time. Besides starring James Madio as Pep, the biopic also features Keir Gilchrist (Atypical) and Ron Livingston. (Office Space)
According to boxingscene.com, the movie takes place in 1965 when Pep's limelight has faded and he's living with his parents in Hartford along with his young wife and son, who's addicted to drugs.
Pep appears to be finished as a championship boxer until he realizes he wants to be "somebody" again at the age of 42. The New York Times calls the film a, "Top 10 Human Interest Story."