NEW YORK — Fred Kuehnert’s indie production banner has acquired the rights to the story of Maurice “Termite” Watkins, a former boxer who volunteered to work as an exterminator for the U.S. military in Iraq, only to be recruited to coach Iraqi boxer Najah Ali to victory in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
Tyro scribe Jerry Griffin, a decorated military veteran, is penning the script. No director is yet attached.
Fred Kuehnert Prods. has picked up the literary rights to Suzy Peppers’ bio “Termite” from Atlas Books and Watkins’ life rights.
Watkins, whose father owned a pest-control business, became a Golden Gloves national champion at 16. He earned 128 amateur victories and compiled a 58-5-2 record as a professional.
He was working as a car salesman in Cleveland when he heard that the Pentagon was looking for wartime pest-control help.
Arriving in Iraq in April 2003, Watkins battled flies, scorpions and camelback spiders. He was then approached by the Coalition Provisional Authority about reviving an Iraqi boxing team for the Olympics, which Iraq had been banned from participating in since 1960. He did so, despite continued violence and a lack of adequate training equipment.
Kuehnert’s credits include “The Buddy Holly Story” and recent Sci Fi Channel original movie “The Fallen Ones.”
Griffin is a graduate of Juilliard and UCLA’s advanced writing program, while his father was a former U.S. Army boxing coach.
Ad and marketing agency B.D. Fox & Friends is attached to handle pre-sales marketing for the project.