November 29, 2021 | 12:48 pm
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Boxing legends Leonard, Hearns, Hagler & Duran featured in Mat Whitecross’ Showtime doc The Kings

Film director Mat Whitecross chats about the making of The Kings, a four-part series on Showtime featuring four champions who ushered in a boxing renaissance. The series showcases the dominance of Roberto Duran, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard and their battles in and out of the ring. Touching on the politics of the 80’s with Ronald Regan, social injustice and boxing’s corruption Whitecross’s documentary is a can’t miss series.

You can check out the transcript below (please be advised transcript may contain typos or errors with less than 100% accuracy)

Warren Shaw 0:11 What’s good everybody. It’s your boy Warren Shaw looking you to another dope interview session. I’m your host Warren Shaw and today we’re joined by our film director Matt Whitecross. Matt, how are you doing today? Brother? It’s so nice for you to join us here man.

Mat Whitecross 0:26 I’m good. It’s better saying you are and How’re things?

Warren Shaw 0:28 I can’t complain man. I’m doing a lot better after taking part in seeing your film The King’s and for our fans and listeners who don’t know the Kings is a four-part documentary series on the Showtime network outlining the boxing history in the 80s of Sugar Ray Leonard Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran Matt You did a great job with this thing I kind of want to start there and one of the way one of the ways I judge documentaries especially sports documentaries specifically is it my wife will you would take any little bit a little bit of interest right? So I’ll tell you a quick story I put it on while she was out and I was like well maybe she’ll let me watch it or maybe she oughta I go watch it in the room if anything so I put it on I like midway through episode one and she comes in she’s like what is this so I gave her the read the beef back the brief background on it and she was hooked and our thing here is like when we are going to start to binge something is like one run another she’s like running so we just we want all run straight straight straight so that’s a little like a little insight into kind of our whole so our household and family and to show you what a great job we did where you got my wife who could give two craps about maxing and scores where she was just interested in the story that you were telling man so congratulations on that bro.

Mat Whitecross 1:46 Oh wow that means a lot it’s funny because I have a similar kind of thing in our house that my wife traditionally falls asleep in the first five minutes of anything so I’m going to choose very carefully and there’s a whole system that like she has a very difficult job to do didn’t want to watch it it’s too difficult and too late you know it’s gonna make her feel sad so there’s a whole process of negotiation But yeah, I definitely felt like with this subject matter what I didn’t want to do was just make something that was gonna appeal to boxing fans because I feel like a lot of boxing fans probably know this story. Or even if they don’t, they’re gonna watch it anyway, I kind of wanted to broaden it because from my perspective, boxing at its best tells you something about who we are as human beings tells you something about society so I wanted to try and open that up as much as we could

Warren Shaw 2:30 no I think he did he did a great job with it for sure. And we’ll get into a little bit about it so just tell me how did the project come to you you know what made you accept it and kind of the some of the back end or inner back workings of the of the process to begin with?

Mat Whitecross 2:43 Well so I’ve made a film few years ago about British bands Oasis called supersonic and the team behind that had previously made Amy and center and then we’re in the process of making married Donna, I think we’re just starting to deepen that marriage, Donna maybe and, and they came to me with a few projects afterwards, because we have such a great time on it. And each time it wasn’t quite right for me, or the timing was bad or something didn’t quite work. And then they came with this project about the four kings. And I did one of those you know, I kind of talked myself out of it. Initially, I did one of those kind of double-takes was like, well, am I the right person for this because you know, of course, like a lot of people I am kind of mesmerized by boxing, I appreciate how important it is to so many people. But I’m not like a fanatic. Like I’ve watched a lot of the big fights, but I feel a little bit conflicted about boxing in general. You know, I think it’s it’s amazing and the, you know, the skill, the athleticism, the courage of the people who go into the ring is undeniable. On the flip side, I can also see the damage it does to people. And I can see the brutality of it obviously, but I can also see the damage it can do further down the line in terms of it could just be financial, it could be mental physical.

And so that that side of things always kind of bothered me. And I said they’re going in it’s like, you know, I’m gonna have to do a lot of homework coming into this because I was a little bit young to appreciate these fights first-time rounds, and I just I feel like you know, do you want someone who is a superfan? Or do you want someone for outside the boxing world? And there’s another that’s fine and the other issue I kind of had was like, Is it okay if I start talking about my feelings about this when we’re making it? You know, can we use the documentary in some way to explore these issues that we’re talking about? And they said yeah, you know, we like the idea of that. So that’s, that’s more or less how you’re going to get handed to me as it wasn’t my project. And then the next step was to go and talk to Showtime. And make sure that they were happy with our you know, our angle on it, our take on it, and they were great. And they what was lovely, I mean, I’ve never had this before from a financially, they just we went over to New York, we met Vinny and Stephen. They just said look, we trust you guys. We like the stuff you make. You go off. We’re here to help but otherwise, we’ll kind of see you. The other ends will offer you comments when you’re further down the line. And the only time They’ve really got involved was like halfway through when we were making it and we were just the story was getting too long because there was so much to try and tell and they just said well look we’ll just give you more time or more money I don’t think that’s probably ever happened before probably will never happen again in my life but it was great it was amazing so they obviously they recognize the importance of this story of something they felt was important to tell

Warren Shaw 5:21 Man well don’t put that out there I mean if you’re doing good work people are going to back the project man I mean so I think and you tell him that story in that ways for your future projects of lay Listen, let that do what Matt does, you know and let his team ride out and they’ll be all right Listen, how long did this take to kind of put together like just you know again, you said that wasn’t your project originally so to speak, but just kind of start to finish How long did this all kind of come together

Mat Whitecross 5:47 it took more or less than two years in total not intentionally I mean I’ve been I had another project that I was working on just before we can raise the money it was a drama so we had the actors that we didn’t have the money that we had the money but we lost the actors so it was one of those things that happens on every indie film probably and so it just landed at exactly the right time. And I thought well this will probably take six months maybe and then I’ll be ready to go back to the other project. And then I got swept up in it and you know, the The nice thing about the way the producers like to work was they said look we want to give you time at the beginning, immerse yourself in the subject matter talk to everyone speak to the boxes, speak to the people in their entourage, or the people from that world. And we want you to know before you even start editing and I that had never happened to me before normally it’s like you know, you go into a documentary because there’s not normally that much money they say okay, here’s the money and by the way, we need a car next week. And this was the opposite they were like no they take a bit of time to familiarize yourself and do the research. So that was the first part of it then we got to meet everyone then we started working on it and editing it and it was complicated to try and tell the stories of full boxes plus their families plus the background plus all the entourage plus all the ins and outs of boxing and then on top of that we wanted to try and tell the story of America and Latin America during that time so yeah it was it was tricky.

How do you make all those strands or those stories feel like just one story so that took a while and then we got halfway through and then Showtime gave us an extra episode and more money which was amazing it’s what we wanted but suddenly all the cliffhangers that we had at the end of each chapter so it all went in the wrong place and you know it was it was tricky to kind of change it all and then and then finally COVID hit and we were still working so then you know like everyone we had to kind of deal with that so yeah it was it took it took a while but it was yeah the whole time I felt very privileged to be doing it it was it was definitely a you know I recognized very early on that these were four lives that need to be honored in the same way that maybe the you know the heavyweights of the previous era and the following year in the shape of Ali and Tyson they always talked about but maybe the forking is less so and I felt like they deserve to have their story told to

Warren Shaw 8:02 Man I think even kind of ending off on that last point you made there because it’s it’s very easy to guide to go to try to go to the people that are most recognizable and you know the most and obviously of this group that trigger you know probably the one that everyone is most familiar with he’s still very visible you know even in the boxing society right now. But Was that something that you were challenged to do and trying to make sure that each one of these boxers were portrayed equally and got their respective stories told in the way that it needed to be told?

Mat Whitecross 8:36 Yeah 100% and that was the balance was was a tricky thing to try and get right because like you said, Ray is the guy that you know is still a very much a familiar presence for a lot of people he’s out there in the limelight. And that was part of the story was the fact that you know, all the attention initially was around him and the other three resented that to an extent and it filled them and it motivated a lot of the fights that came later. So you can’t really tell the story of the Four Kings without starting with Leonard so that felt like the way in but what I loved about the opportunity we had over four hours was that you can kind of you start off with the story of Leonard and maybe you feel like it’s just gonna be his story and he’s a hero you know he’s He’s good looking. He’s charismatic is the new Ollie has been handed the mantle from Ali and he immediately his first fight he’s right out there is already earning the 10s of 1000s of dollars. But then suddenly wrong for everyone at the end of the first episode, and he loses and there’s that Oh, well hang on.

So now it’s gonna become a very different story. So I like the opportunity to kind of to play around with people’s expectations. And I guess you have a kind of stereotypical image of each of the for the beginning. You know, you have the Hitman, okay, he knocks people out. He’s like when people talk about him, even his friends like Jackie said he was a freak of nature. You know, he’s this guy who’s larger than life, but actually he’s a gentle giant. So you have this other side to him. And Greg Do you get to tell that story and the same thing?  With Haggler. The same thing with Duran, there’s the persona that they create. That makes them ferocious in the ring. But then there’s the human being behind that. And what I loved is like we could play around with that in episode one, and then we have three more hours, then explore who they really are. But yeah, you’re right, it was it was tricky to try and find that balance. And for a long time, we struggled, especially in episode one, because, you know, not some of the big fights. And some of those encounters don’t happen to, you know, to the third or fourth episode.

So for example, with Marvin, you know, Marvin doesn’t really start getting into the action until later on the first two episodes, the beginning is really about Duran and Leonard. So how’d you make sure we were dividing evenly, but I felt like it was we got to a good place by the end, but it wasn’t easy.

Warren Shaw 10:48 No, no, for sure. And again, I can appreciate the process, you know, in that as well, too, I think just, we all understand certain things like you wanna you want a story to tell? And then there’s complexities of that. And, you know, I mean, especially with the, with that particular group, because one of the things you mentioned, you talked about there, they are touchy about each other. Like, really, truly like, yeah, like so I, I use a line from NAS, you know, you know, rapper who said this one time, some beefs are everlasting. And while there’s always a mutual respect, like certain things, like listen, you know, it is what it is, I think with them, that definitely holds true.

Mat Whitecross 11:24 100%. Now, it’s interesting, isn’t it? Because even though they’re all kind of friends in inverted commas, like they’re all there, you know, what, there’s enough water on the bridge. Even when we started on the project, Showtime, we’re like, Look, just so you know, there’s going to be an issue with who you approach at what time you know, you could we they said, Well, look, we think ray will be fine. Ray’s great, he doesn’t mind You know, he doesn’t have an ego about these things. But if you approach Marvin, first, his nose might be out of joint, so then, you know, but also, if you talk to Tommy, then maybe there’s an issue with someone else. So you know, in the end, we decided we’ll approach everyone at the same time, but it’s like, it’s like, when you talk about these bands from the 70s, like, Led Zeppelin or someone it’s like, if you’re going to try and make a film about them, is I will what order Do you do approach them? And you know, do you speak, you speak to one of the band members, they go wide? I’m like, I don’t want to be on the show. So yeah, it’s complicated, even even now these decades later.

Warren Shaw 12:18 Yeah, man. Well, I love again, how the story is portrayed. And just talk to me a little bit about maybe some of the other challenges, you know, even in that, you know, when it comes to approaching their teams, and their promoters and the trainers, and everybody that was around all four of these guys, and, you know, I’ll talk about this a little bit as well, too. But boxing is extremely political, going on, and working. Yeah, you know, was it difficult to really try to get everybody to gather to give you the information that you wanted to try to tell the story, accurately and fairly, and some of those who maybe declined to participate, and maybe you still need to get some information about them?

Mat Whitecross 12:57 Yeah, it’s always tricky, you know, and I think, in a documentary in general, you know, you have to come at it from a point of humility and go, look, we’re gonna try and tell someone else’s story. And that might be a band, or it might be an astronaut, it might be an ex-president, whatever it is. And, you know, no one has a God-given right to tell him or anyone else’s story. So I never assumed that everyone’s going to want to work with us and talk to us. On the other hand, you know, we were trying to tell it as completely as we could, and we would try, we came in with good intentions. So you hope that if you get on the phone with someone or you get in a room with them, then they’ll meet you, they’ll take you at your word, but it’s it’s tricky. You know, there’s a lot of trust involved in particularly we then halfway through the project, obviously, you’re in the COVID world, so you end up having to do some of this stuff remotely. And if you’re not in the same room as someone, that’s, that’s hard, plus, you know, the bigger the star, or the bigger the band, the more layers in between you and the people who want to talk to them, right? So yeah, I’ve worked with bands like the stones and or YouTube or Led Zeppelin. And there’s, there’s so many different layers in between the band, you know, for some, often for good reasons, sometimes not for good reasons. And so the same with boxes, right? That you want to talk to, you want to talk to Ray, but you got to talk to an agent, and the agent isn’t the person you should talk to you got to talk to someone else. And half the time, it’s like, well, if you can talk to, you know, someone’s wife or their children, sometimes there’s a better way in.

I mean, my experiences, you know, like, film and TV is pretty chaotic. You know, I’m married to a doctor, and she laughs when she hears about the way that the film and TV can be sometimes it’s pretty crazy. Then I step into the music world every so often you’re like, Oh, this is complete chaos. But then you go into boxing was like a whole new level of insanity. So that’s something we had to deal with a little bit. But yeah, you know, generally, we just reached out to people, most people when they heard what the subject matter was, of course, they want to talk about that era so that it wasn’t too difficult. Then we just needed an end with most of the more important people. So for example, we talked to jack and Kalyn. Not with any ulterior motive just because she was there. And at the end of that interview, we said that we reached out to Tommy we haven’t heard yet. She said, Oh, no, look, I’ll put in a word. And then like a week later, we’re on the phone to Tommy. So, you know, generally speaking, I think it was the same reverser that we reached out to his family and his son connected us. You know, generally speaking, people will take your your your word, but it’s Yeah, it’s complicated right?

Warren Shaw 15:20 Now I know for sure. And so in my normal world, you know, I mean, I’m primarily dealing with NBA players and athletes and stuff like that, too. And, man, it is layered. It’s like, you have to know a guy who knows a guy, sometimes you don’t I mean, you and I need to make sure that you can get what you need to get out of that we’re talking with my wife cross now why cross from the Kings? follow him on Twitter at Matt Whitecross or on ag at my underscore Whitecross? Don’t you hate when they steal your stuff, you have to be your one thing and in your another thing there? That drives me crazy.

Mat Whitecross 15:53 It’s like, we were saying before, it’s like a good full-time job just to stay on top of all these different ways of communicating with people, you know, you need like a team.

Warren Shaw 16:00 For sure, man, it’s Wow, like, I’m one of the finer details I think about this is you know, how you will politics into it. And I know, you’ve discussed that on various platforms that you’ve been on previously, or whatever the case may be, we just talked about how boxing is political, his own political environment, and that of itself, too, but the 80s and Reaganomics and so forth, and so forth. You said, but you said earlier that you kind of had the blessing, you know, I mean, from those above the executive say, Hey, take the rod and do that. What made you want to tell the story in that way, just because that way, it wasn’t such a linear boxing piece. Is that why you kind of did that way?

Mat Whitecross 16:36 Yeah, but partly that. And I think also, the thing for me was, you know, I think exactly like you said, like, life is political, even though we don’t think so I think in the last few years, we’ve started to realize it more, but you know, politics impacts and everything, every, you know, everything is connected in some way. And I felt like, well, one side of it was, you know, I don’t know that you can really understand these four lives without looking at the bigger picture. And I don’t think you can really understand boxing without looking at the bigger picture that time, I really felt like we were, of course, we’re telling the story for everyone for people who were there at the time, but also for a new generation. And the reality is, it’s like, you know, you talk to a kid on the street, they might know who Reagan is, but they might not. So I thought that was important to try and fill in some of the blanks. And then the thing for me what I know,  is there’s something I don’t know if it’s unique to boxing, but it definitely is most at its most extreme in boxing is that, you know, in the way that Teddy Atlas and a few other of our contributors said it to us was just like, there’s something particular about it, you know, it’s one person going in against an opponent. And there’s something that lends itself to metaphor and to talking about the bigger world outside and especially back then, you know, when two people went in, and they represented something, you know, their representative, maybe a country or in the case of Tommy Hearns, they weren’t represented the city. And you’re not just going in, it’s not just two men in there. It’s like the hope and dreams of different communities and different countries. So there was that side of things. And then plus, I just felt like the previous era, you know, now the way we talk about our leaders, like what he is a figurehead for the civil rights movement, or you talk about Tyson and he somehow represents the end of that era of like, bigger is better. Greed is good. whether that’s true or not, that’s the kind that’s the version of that history is now representing. And I felt like well, the four kings also have a represent all kinds of angles and their error messages, it’s a nice way of kind of hopping back and forth and talking about what was going on in America at that time.

And originally, when we had a much longer show, obviously, then you have to cut it down. So that stick is broadcast double, but we had other tangents would go into the mafia corruption during the time of rail sell, who was Roberta Durant’s trainer. And so we had a whole section on there about mafia corruption and how that gradually transformed into you know, white-collar corruption, for want of a better word. In the modern era where people are still getting ripped off. It’s just they’re, they don’t get hit over the head with the cash, they just get ripped off. And then they suddenly realize they’ve, you know, they’ve left destitute after having for their whole lives, you know, so there are a lot of different angles in there. And I just felt like, you know, of course, there’s a straight version of this, where all you do is talk about the technique, and who won and who was up and who was down in each fight. But that felt quite reductive to me, and not really what’s going on in any one of those fights in history.

Warren Shaw 19:19 So, I mean, as you touched on here a little bit, right, because of the time that was going on then, and maybe even some of the times that are happening now with people of color, you know, just for you to be able to tell that story in this time as well to does it does it become doubly important, more stressful to you even in a way because it’s it? It resonates even even now, especially with what kind of our society is?

Mat Whitecross 19:48 Yeah, I felt definitely there were lots of resonances as we were working on the show. It’s like obviously, we’re going through very tumultuous times right now. And you know, the BLM movement. The BLM movement, there were things were going on, during the period where we were editing, where we were watching footage of the uprisings in Newark and Detroit, and it just looked like CNN right now, you know, and in some ways I think life is cyclical, you can see that, you know, the same team behind Reagan with a team behind Trump, they even have the same catchphrase, which obviously we use in the show. And a lot of this stuff is unresolved. And I hope that in some ways, you know, the injustices that are going on right now, they flared up to such an extent that maybe finally they’re being addressed in some way. But, you know, I think for a long time, in this country in the UK, and also probably in the US, people got a little bit complacent, you know, you guys voted in a black president, it was like, Okay, great, well, things are slowly getting better with we’re fixing a lot of the problems in the past. But actually, I think you only have to look at the last administration to realize that maybe some of it was just papering over problems that were there and really haven’t been addressed. Hopefully, they’re starting to get addressed that address now.

But the danger is, we just keep on coasting along and then, you know, in another 30 years, the same thing happens again. So it’s not important for me to talk about the uprisings then and the injustices that these four guys faced in their lives. And you know, and then you get you go back another generation or two generations before that. And for me, it was, you know, there, there were images, even in when the guys had their weigh-ins before a fight. And there was something very stark about some of the imagery I remember seeing Marvin Hagler go in there, and he was stripped down completely naked in front of all these kind of white guys. And they sit there and they weigh him and kind of prod him and poke him. And that to me looked like, you know, pictures. I’ve seen lightsaber versions, you know, yeah. And of course, our lay was very famous, he spoke about that, talking about it as a kind of gladiatorial contest and talking about, you know, having the width of slavery about it. So that felt important to talk about you know, I think it’s, it’s, it’s tricky because I when we made this, I knew that our take on it politically isn’t going to be for everyone’s taste. And maybe we like because we’re taking when we’re making a stand, we’re kind of making comments as we go along. It’s not a neutral observation, but then I don’t think documentary ever is. So I knew it was gonna piss off some people. Fight fans are like this cut to the fight. But you know, that’s okay. You know, I think if you make anything, What you don’t want is for everyone just to kind of, you know, nods and just go Yeah, that’s fine. You know, you want to try and make something that that takes a stance so yeah, let’s see. I mean, it’s interesting I try not to read too many reviews. But every so often things pop up when I’m flicking through Twitter or Instagram and some people like this is great. I love the politics is adding another layer and other people like why did they keep on cutting to Reagan, this is really, really making me angry, but that’s why, you know,

Warren Shaw 22:48 But it’s a documentary, right? And I think like, at the end of the day, he said, you’re gonna make some people happy, or you’re gonna make some people sad, or the case may be but at least You’re mocking, invoking some sort of emotion. I mean, they care in some way. And that’s, I think, any all that any creator ever wants. It’s like care about what you put in if you hate it, that’s fine. At least you got something out of it, right? 100% right. It’s so funny, because when you mentioned that, I think again, I harken back to my wife and when we saw the like, one of the Hagler way and she was like, what I was like, Yeah, I mean, like that’s, that’s what it was. And she said the exact same thing she is like, yeah, it was like the slave trade or something like that case may be and you know, it’s just, I just, I think you just guys, you did a really great job and, and really kind of hitting on everything for each fighter and some of their struggles. And what I think I probably learned the most about Roberto Duran, and just because he’s so authentic and even outspoken, but even touching on email Stuart, and his relationships, Tommy, it really was like, like, because I grew up kind of like you, I think we’re roughly about the same age, so to speak. So I remember some of that stuff.

But that wasn’t my generation. I’m more of the Tyson generation, if you will, right. And like, vividly remember kind of what that was like. That seems to work, you know, with Holyfield, and things of that nature. And what he was as a trainer, what he was, as analysts and things of that nature, just you really got everybody like so many great stories from so many great, influential people, you know, in the sport, and I wanted to ask, you know, is there something that maybe didn’t make the cut? Well, I know there’s stuff that didn’t make the cut, but it is something that like, stood out to you that you’re like, dang, I really wish I could have got that in there somewhere.

Mat Whitecross 24:28 Yeah, I mean, there were lots of sections that we worked on that I really loved. There was one section you know, like I mentioned earlier, where we had to re ourselves with someone who was you know, like a figurehead for trying to clean boxing up in a way that maybe Teddy Atlas has been recently and a few other figures have been and, and he got, he got someone came and smashed him over the head with some lead piping, and he almost died. Yeah, so he ducked out of boxing for a long time for decades. And it was Duran who brought him back in and So here’s so they had a whole section on that and about you know how boxing’s always had this this kind of illicit side to it which I really liked and it was also about their friendship and about Freddy brown and how the three of them connected but we just didn’t have time for it there was another section that I really loved as well which was you know I guess we kind of say something similar at the end of episode one when we connect boxing to the violence the violence is inherent in humanity anyway and so you know, it’s chicken and egg it’s like well does boxing make people violent people are violent anyway you know, it’s not a perfect world and i and i like i like that as a kind of sentiment just to try and explore that why are we even tell him the story Why does boxing even exist?

And then we had a section at the beginning of Episode Three I remember where, you know, Reagan’s come in with a bunch of policies which on the face of it, what you wouldn’t imagine would be very popular which is like let’s make rich people richer and let’s make poor people poorer, and cut all their benefits and cuddle the support that they would have. So but then there’s this assassination attempt by john Hinckley and he almost dies right so he’s whisked away and then immediately you know he’s he’s praised as a hero and they bring him back into Congress and he waves through all these these laws which normally would be very unpopular but everyone’s I like to give him what he wants he is he’s you know he almost died and as simultaneously there’s a lot of changes happening with with boxing and so we kind of have that old as this one centerpiece about what is this violence that’s inherent in in America you know, the way that it kind of came through its origins and there was this great quote from one of our contributors where he said like America was born in blood and it was really my favorite bits and then at the end we were like well we’re running over you can take that whole section out 10 minutes section out and you don’t miss it if you never knew it existed but I missed it because I’ve watched it 100 times better so there’s a lot of stuff but hopefully, I think it happens on a lot of projects that I’ve worked on where you often end up taking out your favorite seat the section and it’s kind of counterintuitive like well how can you take out the best scene in the drama How could take the best scene and documentary but I kind of feel like if that’s the scene that is what the whole show is about then in a way if you take it out and the rest of the show should still have it in its DNA and be in there somewhere even if you cut your favorite see

Warren Shaw 27:14 No, it makes sense I mean it again it just the storytelling pass it makes sense as well too and not just from your perspective, you know, to the audience’s perspective as well too and I think that’s important and you know, so it sounds like any film you know there’s a white cross cut somewhere that maybe we’ll get years down the line maybe Showtime will release some of that or he’ll you know, whatever you’ll you’ll pick that out here you’ll leak it out

Mat Whitecross 27:42 I know when it’s funny isn’t it because on every project even on the the ISIS one we had I think the first cup was about seven hours long there abouts you know, and it was supposed to be 90 minutes I think in the end we could have wrestled it down to that two hours but yeah, it’s just the nature of documentary making and even on dramas where in theory you’re just shooting the bits you need so it should never be that long you still end up with like a three hour cut so yeah and then it’s that thing everyone that causes you know killing your babies you end up having to take out all your favorite bits and this is but that’s this is what the whole scene is what the whole film is about and yeah but someone’s got to give

Warren Shaw 28:19 And I think there’s just there’s just a lot in this in this docu-series you know where there’s like the sympathy of some of the battle like even Duran how he’s a villain at one point he’s a hero and how that can change so quickly depending on whatever is happening you know and the time and especially after no mas and everything like that, as well too and again that stuff is maybe some is somewhat revisionist but it was still needed to be in there for how the series was flying but other parts as you alluded to that you did have to cut out you know again I hope we would get the chance to see that. Before I let you go just you know what did your family think of the of the work you know I mean I know you have you know little girl stuff like that too. You know it’s boxing and it’s a little bit brutal so to speak so. But what was your family’s thoughts on this particular project?

Mat Whitecross 29:04 Well actually none of them have really seen it yet I think might show it to my mom and I showed it to my wife. My wife enjoyed it and I think a bit like you were saying about your wife that she is not like she doesn’t find boxing appealing she thinks she can only see the brutality of it she doesn’t really see the drama behind it and the skill I think she finds it too hard to watch but um but I think she enjoyed it and I again like like your wife I think she enjoys the way that we kind of use history as a way of getting into it. So you’re being told a bigger story. Yeah, my kids. It’s funny I showed them a couple of the fights I wasn’t really sure whether to show them or not. And they kind of they were slightly horrified but then they got into it and they like the characters they explained who the characters were my eldest daughter who’s seven now she was during lockdown they had to do for Black History Month. She had to choose a black figure to celebrate and so she did a big poster like a mural thing of Muhammad Ali. So she knew a bit about boxing and she had all of that in there so she was that okay so I said well no this is kind of about Ali. Ali is in the background of a lot of this and so she that was her way But yeah, I think it’s it’s fascinating to them it’s so alien to what they know they’re both my kids they’re quite young, but they’re doing karate now. They’ve got some sense combat sports so yeah, they like that kind of stuff. But it’s um yes, it’s interesting though, because kids can be quite brutal to write that and scales just as much as boys so there is a sense they are kind of mesmerized by like we all are.

Warren Shaw 30:37 Yeah, it’s funny because you mentioned that way because yeah, I have some kids as well too. And it’s not always the physical nature of the brutality, especially at their age, a lot of times it’s the verbal abuse and the bullying and all that stuff now especially in this era. One or two more questions. I know I know kind of keeping him a little bit longer but I think that’s just like great content here. You know, just where do you think this generation the Kings generation, if you will, where would it be landed like if social media was around and I mean and Roberto Duran and no moss and Sugar Ray with his you know, kind of, you know, always in the middle of like, again, like, I think I saw her somewhere he was like Michael Jordan, where he was just politically correct. at all, at all costs, where do you think this era boxing would be had social media if it had been around back then?

Mat Whitecross 31:25 It is such a good question. Because I think you know, in some ways people were people talk about boxing now boxing then, about mixed martial arts, those kinds of things. And it’s, I will what, what is it about that era? Were these guys great, anyway, like, or was it something about that era that raised them up? And I think, I think it’s a bit of both I mean, obviously, they’re exceptional fighters. But then there was something about boxing or that era, that was the sport that everyone gravitated towards. And you know, you would sit there everyone would watch the fight, no matter where they were, from, what country they were from, they would gather together and they would sit down. And it was available on nationally broadcast. And, you know, it was on the news, it was nationally broadcast and so everyone would watch the fight together. And that’s what you talked about on the weekend. And that’s disappeared now, right with pay per view, and the idea it’s become much more niche. And it’s become more probably more lucrative for promoters and for some fighters, but we’ve lost a lot of that connection. So I think the social media, I don’t know, I think there are lots of ways in which it would have been, you know, people like Duran, probably would have been canceled A long time ago. There’s no filter a bunch of stuff which was like, Yeah, that would have been the end of his career right now.

I think Ray Leonard You know, it would have been another avenue for him to explore he was very very smart he is very smart about connecting with people you know, he understood all of that before anyone like Michael Jordan You know, he kind of paved the way for those guys. So I suppose in that sense, you know, social media in terms of connecting with people that would have been important to him But yeah, I think it’s it’s tricky isn’t it? Because you know what, why is it that it seems to flooded it doesn’t have the same value to a lot of people it’s not it’s not people don’t connect with boxing in the same way now it doesn’t it’s not doesn’t have that importance in people’s lives. And then the stories don’t have the same importance, you know, as, as great as those big fights are. It’s not the same as that era, and certainly not the same as our earliest time will tie us into time. So I get I guess that’s probably the reason but I think, yeah, the social media has a lot to answer for but it might have helped back then.

Warren Shaw 33:24 Oh, my God, you’re so right, though cancel culture would have definitely got Roberto, he would have been, you know, in Panama and the parties. With the girls Oh, my god, it would have been awful.

Mat Whitecross 33:39 Well, entertaining.

Warren Shaw 33:40 Oh, for sure. We would have watched. And it would have been probably led to a different type of documentary at some point as well. Listen, man, I want to thank you so much for joining me here on dope interviews. I think you know, it was a great conversation and just tell the folks again, where they can find you, and what are some of the next projects you may have working on and coming up next.

Mat Whitecross 34:01 Thank you. Well, yeah, we’re working on a show about the Paralympics at the moment. So we’ve been following 10 athletes around the world, from as far afield as Iraq, Afghanistan, Norway, Canada. And they’ve been telling their stories to us for almost two years now. So fingers crossed touchwood. We’re going to follow them all the way to Tokyo next month. So that’s very exciting. And in the meantime, we’ve got various different things lined up for afterwards. So it’s the usual thing of you kind of spinning 20 plates and seeing which we can jump onto but it’s so yeah, no, it’s good. It’s been. I know, it’s been very tough time for a lot of people. But we’ve been lucky. We’ve been super busy. So yeah, just look forward to next project.

Warren Shaw 34:41 Man. Well, I’m really excited for you. Hopefully, we’ll get to talk to you again. But some of that some of those projects moving forward. I want to thank you, Matt Whitecross, for joining us here on dope interviews. I’m your host, Warren Shaw. And this was another dope interview. We’ll see you next time. Thanks so much.

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