The Boksburg Bomber…
The Bionic Fist…
Those were the names attributed to Gerrie Coetzee, the first fighter in the history of world boxing to claim the WBA Heavyweight title for the African continent – and also the first white person in 23 years to do so.
Friday evening 23 September, 1983
Richfield Coliseum Cleveland, Ohio.
The third minute of the 10th round. A silent, stunned crowd. America’s favourite, Michael Dokes, is on the canvas. Gerrie Coetzee shocked world boxing. He becomes the WBA Heavyweight Champion with a killer left.
With a deafening roar the spectators erupt.
On the other side of the Atlantic a united South Africa goes wild with what has just happened. With this glorious victory, Gerrie can unite his divided nation through a mutual love of boxing. It’s a dream he had always strived for and he is everyone’s champion.
“GERRIE the Movie” tells the story of an average young boy from Boksburg on the East Rand of Johannesburg, who dreamt of becoming a boxing hero. The film journeys through his life, telling a story of many highlights and some monumental hurdles.
Central to the story is the protagonist, Gerrie, who was caught up in the grip of apartheid which in itself becomes the antagonist. The inhumane system of legal separation through the perceived superiority of a single race over others, caused many obstacles that he had to face; personally as well as in his career. During major fights he was continuously targeted by anti-apartheid activists. Fights were marred by vicious and disrupting protests. Security police had to patrol streets. Fear and anxiety for his beloved wife, family, friends and his own safety became Gerrie’s constant companions. The personal attacks intensified and started to affect his opponents who themselves become targets during international fights.
Non-political and averse to violence, Gerrie cannot condone the concept of apartheid and its devastating consequences. Throughout his life the cornerstone of his value system is seeking peace and above all, fairness and equality for all. He diligently works with determination and commitment towards one goal – to become the world heavyweight boxing champion.
Apartheid is responsible for debilitating international sporting boycotts. Securing boxing venues become problematic. Boxing promoters solve these challenges by moving the fights out of South Africa to the neighboring independent state of Bophuthatswana, the home of Sun City.
Gerrie’s greatest boxing attribute is his devastating right hand. It is also his greatest challenge. Injury, pain and reconstructive surgery become his constant companions. The film shows how he has to fight through pain thresholds – especially when he breaks his left thumb just before the Michael Dokes fight. They keep this injury from promoter Don King who would not allow the fight to continue.
His broken right hand earns him the nickname “The Bionic Fist” but jealous opponents and the media uses a more derogatory name, “Gerrie Sore Hands”
International and South African actors will portray the roles in this film that will be shot on location in South Africa.
Viewers will not only be treated to a moving and gripping drama, but also exploding boxing matches, thriller moments and action sequences relieved by some comic moments.