After Sylvester Stallone recently announced the launch of his Balboa Productions for film and TV with a feature film project on the first African-American heavyweight champion Jack “The Galveston Giant” Johnson as its maiden effort, others (including Ridley Scott’s production company Scott Free) are also throwing their gloves in the ring to give the champ a cinematic treatment in a film called The Big Blow.

Johnson’s story did receive a fictionalized treatment in 1970’s The Great White Hope directed by Martin Ritt (Norma Rae) and starring James Earl Jones.

Oren Moverman (The Dinner) wrote and Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men) directs The Big Blow – with Scott Free producing – which will also tell the champ’s story. This after Stallone, documentarian Ken Burns and Senator John McCain lobbied hard for and secured a posthumous pardon from Pres. Trump for Johnson who was convicted in 1913 of violating the racist Mann Act when he transported a white woman across state lines who later became his wife.

Read the resolution Senator McCain prepared before Johnson’s pardon here.

The Big Blow will be set during the treacherous Galveston, Texas hurricane of 1900 – a disaster which flattened basically the whole city. "Local black champion Little Arthur must go head-to-head not only against prejudiced social and relational divides, but with a ringer from Chicago – Jim McBride – a dirty-fighting racist hired by the local Sporting Club to do one thing: Kill Little Arthur and restore the championship to a white fighter." This closely parallels a chapter of Johnson&'s life, with the film also incorporating the interracial marriage of the champ (part of what prompted the federal Mann Act charge) into its narrative.

Stay with The 405 for more on both The Big Blow and Stallone's cinematic take on Johnson as we hear it.