"Ring of Fire" The Emile Griffith Story, CAN ONE MAN EVER FORGET? WILL ONE FAMILY EVER FORGIVE? Film advertisement flyer SIGNED by Emile Griffith.
Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story looks at one of the most notorious bouts in the history of the sport, and the man at the heart of it.
In 1962, Emile Griffith and Benny "Kid" Paret, both stars within the welterweight division, met in a hotly awaited fight. The two had already fought twice, with Griffith taking Paret's championship belt in the first fight via a knockout, and Paret re-claiming the crown in the second fight by decision. Paret had taunted Griffith during the second fight with the Spanish word "maricon," a homosexual slur. It was considered open knowledge among the boxing fraternity of the time that Griffith was indeed gay, and Griffith was incensed by the slur. When Paret repeated it at the weigh-in before the third fight in April 1962, Griffith nearly attacked Paret there. Griffith went on to dominate the first few rounds of their fight, until Paret knocked down Griffith unexpectedly in the sixth round. Griffith recovered to take control again, culminating in the fateful twelfth round. Griffith cornered Paret and blitzed him with a horrific series of unblocked shots to the head, leaving him in a coma. Paret would die ten days later, having never regained consciousness.
Emile Griffith was a consummate fighter. The only thing he did not do well in the ring, was punch. Aside from that, Griffith did everything well.
Griffith was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands and moved to New York City and discovered boxing. He won a New York Golden Gloves title and turned pro in 1958.
He quickly climbed the welterweight ranks by beating the likes of Gaspar Ortega, Denny Moyer, Florentino Fernandez and Luis Rodriguez. By 1960 he earned a shot at the welterweight title and knocked out Benny Paret in the 13th round.
After Griffith made one successful defence, Paret won back the title in a rematch.
Tragedy would beset the third Griffith-Paret bout. Griffith unleashed a furious attack in round 12 and had Paret pinned in a corner. Paret began to sag between the ropes and absorbed numerous unanswered blows before referee Ruby Goldstein intervened. He was too late. Paret was removed from the ring on a stretcher. He lapsed into a coma and died 10 days after the fight at the age of 25.
Griffith slowly overcame the emotional trauma of the Paret fight and went on to have a brilliant career. Although he lost the welterweight crown to Rodriguez, he regained it in rematch shortly after.
In 1966, Griffith decisioned Dick Tiger to win the middleweight title. Although he would lose the crown to Nino Benvenuti, he regained the 160-pound belt from the Italian in 1967. Finally, Benvenuti kept the title for good by beating Griffith in 1968.
In his career, Griffith met 10 World champions and boxed 339 title-fight rounds, more than any other fighter in history.