Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story

Director: Ron Berger, Dan Klores

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


The year is 1962, when "even Liberace was thought to be straight." What if—in the toughest, most brutal, most macho of all sports, boxing—the six-time welterweight champion of the world was really a closeted homosexual? Ring of Fire, Dan Klores and Ron Berger's enthralling new documentary, deftly depicts this very true story.

At Madison Square Garden, in a live television broadcast, in a bout labeled the fight of the decade, Emile Griffith pummeled archrival Benny "Kid" Paret unconscious, leaving him in a coma. Paret died in a hospital 10 days later. It was subsequently revealed that during the weigh-in Paret had taunted Griffith, calling him maricón, the Spanish word for "faggot." That match sparked outrage and calls for boxing reform. The sport was pulled from television for the next 10 years. Griffith, who currently lives with his longtime roommate and "adopted son," Luis Rodrigo, is haunted by Paret's death to this day.

Skillfully blending current interviews with rare black-and-white fight footage, Ring of Fire skewers the hypocrisy of political outrage, exposes the underside of social and cultural mores, thoughtfully provides a framework for forgiveness, and bravely poses the question: "Who or what is really to blame for Paret's death?"

— David Courier

Screening Details


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