"A black Italian who fought with the British army in the First World War then defied Mussolini’s wrath to win a European boxing title in Rome has finally been honoured in his homeland with a film about his life." Sunday Times
Thanks to Julie Ward MEP for sending me these links to a new film about a remarkable Congolese/Italian boxer
"Leone Jacovacci (a.k.a. John Douglas Walker and Jack Walker) was born in 1902 in the village of Pombo in the then Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), the son of an Italian man and a Congolese woman. He was raised in Italy which was rough for him, given that he was bi-racial, and as a result, in his late teens, found himself in England where he reinvented himself as John Douglas Walker, added a couple of years to his age, and enlisted in the 53rd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment of the British Army. "
Having returned to Italy and taken up boxing...
"For two years, under his real name, Jacovacci won just about every match, becoming both the Italian and European middleweight champion - a development that further enraged Italy's racist fascists. Although Jacovacci worked to ingratiate himself with the government by joining the National Fascist Party, many officials hated the fact that an Afro-Italian was the nation's top boxer."
More here: https://shadowandact.com/teaser-documentary-on-leone-jacovacci-1920s-black-italian-boxer-who-took-a-swing-at-fascism/
Nathan Medina with local boxing coach Will Dale in Gravesend
Working alongside Kerry from Action Factory with the Juniors group at Blackburn Youthzone we were looking at things to do with who we are (identity) and where we live (place) - two big themes in Tom Molineaux.
We started with short poems about the room we were in.
This Room (by Maddie)
This Room (by Olivia)
Then we thought about the day we'd had.
This Day (by Mollie)
I loved today because I saw my friends.
This Day (by Ruby)
I asked for some words about Blackburn.
Blackburn (by Olivia)
It has clothes shops
McDonalds, KFC, Burger King
Blackburn (by Eve)
And about YouthZone.
YouthZone Is... (by Eve)
YouthZone Is... (by Olivia)
A fun place to be
YouthZone Is... (by Charlie)
We talked next about favourite places we had been.
A Great Place To Be (by Olivia)
My Favourite Place (by Mollie)
Bed, glorious bed
And my cupboards
Finally we imagined life in a totally different place: outer space.
Life In Space (by Ruby)
I would fly for fun
Try and eat a cross bun
Go see the sun
And I will be victorious
Six Months in Space (by Ruby)
After one month I were mischievous and used graffiti on Neptune.
Two months I would be soooooooooooooo (x 20 more) disappointed because I were starving.
3rd month I found out the moon is made of jelly and ice cream.
4th month I felt like screaming because I missed my bath.
5th month I smelled my armpit and nearly DIED.
6th month I was in the middle of the atmosphere and died at the hot heat and my body melted into dust.
Life In Space (by Leona)
Space, it’s so beautiful, beautiful, the elegance, the elegance, the elegance, the story of why I love space, oh that’s so cooooool, soooo cooool, oh it’s so pretty, so pretty, there are billions and billions of galaxies, oh that’s soooo cooool, sooooo coooool, my mind can’t handle the rendering, every tiny speck is probably a star, it’s so big, every speck it’s so big, so big, I would love every struggle a terrible experience that it may or may not be just for a chance to see Mars. I love space, space, oh that’s so cooool, so cooool, my mind can’t handle the rendering, oh that’s so cooool, so cooool, oh it’s so pretty, so pretty, BYE-BYE.
Thanks to Steph, Jessica, Mackenzie, Eve, Caitlyn, Ella, Mollie, Ruby, Maddie, Olivia, Brooke, Leona, Charlie and ‘Dead Bob.’ Some writing didn't have a name on - sorry! The full collection from the session is here (pdf)
Great fun working with Desta Hailé and young refugees & asylum seekers in Gravesend doing drama games, storyboarding and then making boxing movies.
Nathan Medina (who will play Tom Molineaux) visited the Woodville Theatre this week for a photo shoot for the Kent Messenger along with Will Dale from the local GNG Boxing Club.
Nathan was also able to spend some time with Will in the gym...!
In Autumn 2016, as part of the Research & Development process supported by Arts Council England and Counterpoints Arts, we developed the script at Jack Studio Theatre and worked with Double Jab boxing club in New Cross to learn about the sport and Action Factory in Blackburn/Darwen to try out some creative ideas relating to the plays themes of migration, place and identity.
Some of the Action Factory volunteer group are pictured above and you can read their poems here (pdf)
One of the short films we made with Double Jab boxers is below.
Below is one of the "character profiles" developed with the young people at the British Red Cross young refugees drop-in in Gravesend.
More on Phase 1 of the project can be found here: www.tomgreen-uk.com/blog
As part of Phase 2, alongside the full production of the play, we are working with boxers and other diverse young people in creative ways in each location the show visits: Gravesend, South East London, Blackburn/Darwen and Wandsworth. This blog will follow that process.