Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer are getting in the ring with “Golden Boy.”
Scripted by “Remember the Titans” writer Gregory Allen Howard, drama is based on the story of welterweight contender Dmitriy Salita and his relationship with his trainer, Jimmy O’Pharrow.
A Ukrainian Jew who moved to Coney Island at age 9, Salita sought out the Starrett City Boxing Club and its fabled trainer Jimmy O when he was 13 because he was getting pounded by his schoolmates. At the club, most of the fighters were African-Americans and Puerto Ricans who turned Salita into a human punching bag until he grudgingly gained their respect because of his resilience. A few years later, Salita won his weight class in the Gotham Golden Gloves and was named outstanding fighter in the tournament. He turned pro and is now 17-0.
Howard, who corralled life rights for the fact-based gridiron hit “Remember the Titans” and then set up the film with Bruckheimer exec Chad Oman, did the same on “Golden Boy.”
“What makes this work is the bond between the two guys,” Howard said. Jimmy O says that Dmitriy “looks Russian, prays Jewish and fights black.”
Howard has two other projects at Disney: “We Are a Chain,” about a group of Mennonite kids who won a state hoops title, led by a black coach; and “Drummer Boy,” a coming-of-age story set during the Civil War.