THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – Rowan Athale will write and direct the drama about the British Yemeni world champion.
Paddy Considine and Mena Massoud have signed on to star in the upcoming sports drama Giant, based on the life of British Yemeni boxing champion Prince Naseem “Naz” Hamed.
Born in Egypt and raised in Canada, Massoud (Aladdin, Amazon Prime Video’s Jack Ryan) will play Naseem Hamed, nicknamed Prince and Naz, who held multiple featherweight world titles in his 10-year professional career, including the WBO, IBF and WBC titles. The BAFTA Award-winning Considine (Tyrannosaur, HBO’s House of the Dragon) will play Hamed’s Ireland-born boxing trainer, Brendan Ingle.
Rowan Athale, director of 2012 Toronto Film Festival title Wasteland (aka The Rise) and a writer on the Sky/AMC series Gangs of London, will write and direct Giant, which will focus on Hamed’s rags-to-riches rise as a child of working-class Yemeni immigrants in Yorkshire who became a southpaw superstar.
Hamed was discovered in Sheffield by Ingle, a steel industry worker turned boxing trainer, and their unlikely partnership became the basis of one of the most successful and dramatic careers in fighting.
Stuart Ford’s AGC Studios will fully finance Giant with Ford, Mark Lane of Tea Shop Productions, and Kevin Sampson of White Star Productions producing. Sylvester Stallone and Braden Aftergood of Balboa Productions are on board to executive produce.
Hamad’s unorthodox boxing style and cocky persona made him an overnight sensation. A flamboyant and flashy fighter, who often knocked out opponents in the opening rounds, he was also famous for his dramatic ring entrances, which included entering the ring on a flying carpet, and re-enacting the Michael Jackson music video for “Thriller.”
A practicing Muslim who often prayed before fights, Hamad became a hero for millions of working-class and Muslim Brits but also faced racism and Islamophobia during his rise to the top.
“I have wanted to bring this movie to screen for many years,” said Athale. “The story of fabled boxing trainer Brendan Ingle and his tempestuous relationship with protege “Prince” Naseem is both legendary, and truly cinematic. It’s exciting, necessary, hilarious, and heartbreaking, and to be making this movie with the incomparable Paddy Considine and Mena Massoud, and with the support of the one and only Sylvester Stallone and his Balboa Productions team, is a dream come true.”
Given the subject matter, and Prince Naseem’s global star status, Giant is likely to be a hot sales title at the European Film Market in Berlin next month.
Paddy Considine’s deal was brokered by CAA and Independent Talent Group, Mena Massoud’s by Derek Kroeger of Myman Greenspan, Gersh and LINK Entertainment and negotiated by senior vp legal and business affairs Anant Tamirisa on behalf of AGC Studios.