Big Budget Boxing Epic Packing Punch
January 31, 2017 by Mike McNamara
Windy City Images is looking to get off the ropes and into production on their ambitious feature ON THE ROPES this summer. After a few false starts (or perhaps, "standing eight counts"... let's go with as many boxing references as possible today) on the financing side, producer Steve Wilburn has secured half of their now-20-million-dollar budget and is targeting a summer shoot in the Chicagoland area.
Everyone loves a comeback and at the heart of ON THE ROPES is one of the greatest professional sports comeback stories ever... and one I'm betting you have never heard or seen before. The film follows the career of an up-and-coming cruiserweight boxer, Craig “Gator” Bodzianowski, who was a rising talent in the early 80s until a horrific motorcycle accident led to the amputation of his lower right leg. Against all odds, "Gator" defied critics and naysayers to become what some say was the toughest man who ever stepped into the ring. Not necessarily the best fighter but certainly the toughest.
Producer Steve Wilburn explains further, "The Illinois Boxing Commission was adamant about not letting 'Gator' back in to fight professionally even after threats of a lawsuit. Amputees just didn’t play sports back then, especially professional sports. It wasn’t until the press got on the Boxing Commission did they relent and give Gator a temporary license."
Well, it wasn’t just local news that a one-legged man was fighting professionally again, it was national. And when Gator won his first comeback fight in a second-round knockout, it was international news.
Wilburn told SCREEN, "Many people came out of the woodwork to say this 'was impossible' that 'the fight was fixed.' Gator said, 'Oh yeah, bring ‘em on.'" Bodzianowski went on to win the Illinois Heavyweight Championship, the Intercontinental America's Cruiserweight Championship and eventually... the right to fight for the WBA World Championship belt.
And so the story continues, so the inspirational journey grows, with an ending that Wilburn says "people would think was fiction if it weren't all true. Muhammad Ali is there for a heartfelt ending more powerful than ROCKY."
But first things first: the financing. Wilburn and his team have launched an Indiegogo campaign to obtain startup funds to help secure the other half of the budget. You can invest and learn more at https://igg.me/at/OnTheRopes Mr. Wilburn has secondary investors interested once he secures the startup funds from his Indiegogo campaign and is open to discussions with other potential investors.
With financing, cast and crew in place, ON THE ROPES could be a great film for Chicago and an inspirational knockout for audiences worldwide. We will see what the coming months hold and as this film steps into the ring... er, heads into production... you know what I mean... I'll keep you posted!
Mike McNamara is the Co-Founder of The Midwest Independent Film Festival, www.midwestfilm.org. Mike pays his rent as an actor in Chicago in theatre, commercials, television and film. More from Mac at www.findmac.com.