EXCLUSIVE: The story of black British boxing sensation Len Johnson is to be told in a feature film from Rush exec Guy East, written by the “godmother of black British playwrights” Winsome Pinnock.
Champion is the first major project from UK commercials producer MindsEye’s two-year-old film and TV division and is based on Rob Howard’s book Boxing’s Uncrowned Champion – Len Johnson and the Colour Bar.
Johnson was one of the top middleweight boxers in the 1920s and 1930s but was denied his dream of becoming a British boxing champion due to the ‘colour bar’, the rule that stated only white fighters could claim championship status.
He fought tirelessly against this injustice and his determined activism led to the ‘colour bar’ being overturned, clearing the pathway for multiple future black British champions. Last year, a petition to have a statue erected in his hometown of Manchester was signed by the likes of boxing champions Anthony Joshua and Ricky Hatton.
Rush, Woman In Black and The Ides of March exec Guy East is on board to exec produce the project, which is being written by award-winning playwright Winsome Pinnock, who has been dubbed the “godmother of black British playwrights.”
MindsEye CEO Hughie Phillips described Johnson as a “man born ahead of his time.”
“Len leaves with us a victorious and crucial legacy, and one we cannot wait to share with audiences around the world, finally giving Len the recognition he deserves.”
Phillips is producing alongside Katie Mavroleon, who was hired by MindsEye as head of development in 2019 to help set up the film and TV division, which has a number of projects in development.