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Ex-Boxer Sues Over ‘Hurricane’ Film

February 16, 2000

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A former middleweight boxing champion is suing the makers of the ``The Hurricane,″ saying the movie inaccurately portrayed him as being ``relentlessly pummeled″ by Rubin ``Hurricane″ Carter in his 1964 title fight.

Carmine O. Tilelli, known in boxing as Joey Giardello, filed the federal defamation lawsuit in Philadelphia against Universal Pictures, Beacon Communications and Azoff Films.

``The Hurricane,″ released by Universal last month, is based on the life story of Carter, who served 19 years in prison after being convicted in 1967 of three murders; the conviction was later overturned.

The lawsuit said the movie describes the fight as having clearly been won by Carter but that the judges were influenced by the racially charged atmosphere. Giardello won by unanimous decision.

``Virtually every boxing expert then and now will tell you I won the fight,″ Giardello said Wednesday.

Referee Robert Polis, who scored the fight 72-66 in favor of Giardello, said: ``They portrayed Joey Giardello as an incompetent fighter. I thought it was ludicrous.″

The lawsuit seeks to have a video clip placed at the end of the movie showing the actual footage of the fight, said Giardello’s attorney, Pennsylvania Boxing Commissioner George Bochetto. The lawsuit also seeks unspecified monetary damages.

``When you identify a real-life person like Joey Giardello and, in a totally gratuitous manner, strip him of his rights, strip him of his dignity, there’s no reason for it and it’s inexcusable,″ Bochetto said.

Universal representatives said they were unaware of the lawsuit and would not comment. A representative at Beacon Communications said she was instructed not to comment.

Television announcer Les Keiter, who narrated the real fight, called the movie’s depiction ``fictitious and ludicrous.″

``Joey Giardello was a clear-cut winner,″ Keiter said. ``You can’t take away a man’s legacy.″

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