Angelo Pizzo, screenwriter of sports dramas “Hoosiers,” “Rudy” and “The Game of Their Lives,” has signed on to write an indie biopic about boxer Vinny Paz, who came back from a broken neck to become a world champion.
Project’s set up with producers Chad A. Verdi, Noah Kraft, Glen Ciano with Michael Corrente directing and plans to shoot in Providence, R.I., next year. Paz, a Rhode Island native who boxed under the name “The Pazmanian Devil,” is consulting.
Pizzo told Daily Variety that he’s focusing the script on the inspirational side of Paz’s story following a 1991 traffic accident that broke his neck in three places while he was at the peak of his career. Against doctors’ orders, Paz returned to the gym with his metal halo still on, began working out and eventually won three more titles and went on to retire with a 50-10 record.
“I’ve always been a huge boxing fan and Vinnie’s really a force of nature so the story has a grittiness to it and a sense of place that are very cinematic,” Pizzo said.
Verdi has known Paz, who changed his last name from Pazienza when he took up boxing, since boyhood. “This project is my life, and the reason I got into the business,” added Verdi, who owns the life rights through his Woodhaven production company.
Verdi and Corrente are in post production on “Loosies” and on horror pic “Inkubus,” starring Robert Englund.
As for Paz, he’s pleased that the “Rudy” screenwriter is on board. “I love ‘Rudy’ because it gives people inspiration and hope — which is what I feel is the best thing that I’ve done with my life,” he added.
Pizzo’s also been working on “The Brickyard,” a project about the first Indianapolis 500.