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Last Updated: Monday, 26 February 2007, 15:06 GMT
Boxing musical given UN audience
Tommy Farr
Farr fought Joe Louis at New York's Yankee Stadium in 1937
Songs from a musical about Welsh boxer Tommy Farr will ring around the United Nations building in New York this week.

Composer Mal Pope has based Contender on the life of the heavyweight from the Rhondda, who fought world champion Joe Louis in 1937 at the Yankee Stadium.

With entertainer Mike Doyle as Farr and singer Peter Karrie as his mentor Joby Churchill it opens in Swansea in April.

Pope's 14-year-old daughter Daisy is in New York promoting her new single which is taken from the production.

Farr's story, one of rags to riches and back again, made it ideal for the stage said Pope, whose last musical Amazing Grace took more than 500,000 at the theatre box office.

"In many ways Contender is a great Welsh story because Tommy doesn't become world heavyweight champion," he said.

Daisy Pope
I'm doing a few different songs while in New York
Daisy Pope

"He falls at the last hurdle which is typical of so many great Welsh icons."

Farr, from Tonypandy, fought his first professional bout at the age of 12 and learnt his trade in the boxing booths.

In 1937, at the age of 23, he took Joe Louis, who is still ranked as one of the sport's all-time greats, the distance at New York's Yankee Stadium in front of a 32,000 crowd.

He lost on points but his battling performance secured his status in America and appearances in Hollywood and New York's legendary Cotton Club.

But personal tragedies saw him lose his fortune and he ended up bankrupt - having to return to the ring at the age of 36 to make a living.

"We miss those stories by not having them on stage," added Pope.

"We are used to seeing American stories being told in musicals, on film and in plays and we give them more credence than our own."

United Nations Building in New York
Daisy Pope will be performing at the UN building on Wednesday

Farr, who ran a pub in Sussex after retiring, died on St David's Day in 1986, aged 71.

As part of the New York's St David Day celebrations Daisy Pope was appearing at the Sony Atrium on Monday, before performing in honour of Sir Emyr Jones Parry, the UK permanent representative to the UN, at the UN building on Wednesday.

Singing under the name Miss Daisy Blue she hopes her single Happy Am I from Contender will help launch her own career.

"We are just seeing how it goes really - I sing mainly jazz covers - but I'm doing a few different songs while in New York," she said.

"The single is promoting Contender - I'm working towards having my own CD.

"I'm very excited - I'm looking forward to going to the UN - it will be fun."


SEE ALSO
Swansea fans buy up anthem CD
03 Dec 05 |  South West Wales
Newsreader plays God in musical
27 Mar 05 |  South West Wales

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