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The BBC's Robert Nisbet in Los Angeles
"The scriptwriters condensed the story and some things have been changed slightly"
 real 28k

Saturday, 19 February, 2000, 05:22 GMT
Boxer sues Hurricane's makers

Denzel Washington stars in the controversial movie

Makers of Denzel Washington's acclaimed film The Hurricane are being sued for defamation of character by a former middleweight boxing champion portrayed in the film.

Joey Giardello has brought the legal action against Universal Pictures, Beacon Communications and Azoff Films.

He claims their movie inaccurately shows him being "relentlessly pummelled" by Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in a 1964 title fight.

The Hurricane is based on the life story of Carter who served 19 years in prison after being convicted of three murders in 1967. The conviction was later overturned.

Carter: His case became an international cause in the 1970s
Giardello, who's real name is Carmine O Tilelli, says the movie falsely shows that Carter should have won the 1964 fight and that judges only gave him the title because of racial prejudice.

"Virtually every boxing expert then and now will tell you I won the fight," said Giardello who wants a video clip of the real fight added to the end of the movie, in addition to financial compensation.

Robert Polis, a referee from the 1964 fight who scored 72-66 in Giardello's favour, added: "They portrayed Joey Giardello as an incompetent fighter. I thought it was ludicrous."

A news conference was also shown a videotaped interview with Carter in which he says he lost the fight fairly - not because of racism.

Representatives from Universal said they were unaware of the case being brought by Giardello. Another from Beacon Communications said she had been told not to comment.

Mixed reviews

The Hurricane was released in the US in January. In the same month, Denzel Washington won a Golden Globe award for his performance, as well as being nominated for a Oscar earlier this week.

However the movie has come under fire by critics who say it is overly simplistic, ignores the true heroes and mythologies Carter as a saint.

Denzel Washington has won a Globe and is up for an Oscar
The film's backers have admitted to changing some details of the story to keep it to a manageable length. But its producers put an announcement in a Hollywood trade paper refuting allegations of bias.

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter is not thought to have been named in the legal action. The 62-year-old former boxer lives in Toronto and now campaigns for the wrongly imprisoned.

The battle to clear his name became a celebrated international cause in the 1970s and inspired the famous Bob Dylan ballad The Hurricane.

The movie opens in the UK on 24 March.

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See also:
08 Jan 00 |  Tom Brook
Denzel's Hurricane stirs controversy
24 Jan 00 |  Entertainment
Golden Globe winners
15 Feb 00 |  Entertainment
Oscar nominees in full

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