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US boxer Zeke Wilson who fought and beat racist law to film his life story in Belfast

By Amanda Ferguson

Published 03/03/2016

Zeke Wilson in Belfast yesterday
Zeke Wilson in Belfast yesterday

A heavyweight amateur boxing champion who fought a precedent-setting court battle in the US over racial discrimination is planning to make the film of his inspiring story in Belfast.

Zeke Wilson (58) is on his first visit to the city and is calling on local actors and others interested in working on The Eighth Round to get him touch with him.

The 58-year-old from Pennsylvania is currently staying in Fermanagh with Belfast man David Doherty, who got to know Wilson when he worked for a film company in Dublin.

Wilson says he feels "relaxed in Belfast" as it's a "big boxing town" and is keen to get to work on the indie feature film, produced by Same Race Productions, which follows a book and short film of the same story.

"I wanted to come to Ireland to shoot my film. It's a beautiful story. I am putting together a casting call for people interested in being part of the film. We are going to be shooting the boxing part in Ireland and spread around the UK," he explained.

The Eighth Round will tell Wilson's inspiring story of an ordinary man taking on an extraordinary challenge.

"I won a case in federal court that had never been done before in our history," he said.

"It set federal precedent on same-race discrimination.

"I was a fight promoter and I went to Massachusetts to do a boxing event, but different bodies of the state cancelled me because of the colour of my skin. The state law said anyone who did boxing events had to pay $5,000.

"I was asked to pay $10,000 and white individuals didn't have to pay.

"I did all my deposition and summary judgment 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."

Wilson said he is enjoying his first visit to Belfast.

"It's a pretty place," he added.

"I am meeting people interested in being a part of what I am doing.

"Belfast always had a history when it comes to boxing and that's why we have a Belfast, New York (state) where the bare knuckle boxing hall of fame is held. It all stemmed from this place. I feel relaxed here. I am on a mission."

  • To get in touch with Zeke Wilson visit http://www.theeeighthround.com/

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