Billy 'The Great' Hope | Boxer: The Next Rocky?Written by Leroy Cleveland
Billy 'The Great' Hope, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a boxer in the upcoming film 'Southpaw' which is scheduled to release July 24.
The movie centers on Hope's plight after the death of his wife.
At the height of his fame, Billy 'The Great' Hope, the light heavyweight champion of the world, is a successful boxer with a beautiful home and loving family. But despite of his success, his wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) convinces him to retire so he can spend more time with his daughter Leila (Oona Laurence).
Soon after hanging up the gloves, Maureen is accidentally killed during an altercation with another boxer and Billy hits rock bottom.
Down but not out, Hope must find the strength and courage to rebound.
Will he become the new Rocky?
So far, he's off to a wonderful start as Southpaw is already being pegged for an Oscar nomination.
Perhaps there will be a sequel?
Rocky (1976), of course, was a sleeper hit that went on to become the highest grossing film of 1976 and win three Oscars, including Best Picture.
Was Billy 'The Great' Hope a real boxer?
The answer is both yes and no. According to BoxRec, there have been three professional boxers named Billy Hope. However, none are remotely depicted in the movie so the character appears purely fictional.
America's Love Affair with Boxing
Even in Hollywood, no other sport generates as much interest as boxing. Everybody loves Rocky Balboa, Apollo Creed and Clubber Lang and those fictional characters are as mainstream as world leaders.
Over 500 movies have been made about sports with boxing as far and away the biggest draw.
The sport is, as former heavyweight title-holder Frank Bruno once said, "Show business with blood."
The action inside the ring can be violent but not overly savage and the concept is easy to understand; outside the ring, however, the it's one big soap opera.
The creators of All My Children and One Life to Live could have learned much had they been immersed in the fight game.
And let's not forget the characters. The sport has been privy to some interesting personalities, inside and outside the ring.
Boxers, trainers and promoters, unlike football, baseball and basketball players and coaches, have no allegiance to an association and can often get away with being themselves without suffering the consequences of a league penalty.
In the end, perhaps the fascination of prizefighting is its mixture of simplicity and complexity?
Maybe Jim Lampley, HBO's longtime boxing announcer, said it best:
"Because the sport is fundamentally simple but the circumstances that surround it are inevitably and chronically complicated, it's perfect movie fodder."
Billy 'The Great' Hope stats & facts
Height: 6'0" (183 cm)
Trainer: Titus 'Tick' Wills
Division: Light Heavyweight
Strengths: Courage, durability, athleticism and endurance