Mahershala Ali Will Play First Black Heavyweight Boxing Champion Jack Johnson In New HBO Series


July 3, 2020

A story worth being told!

Academy Award winning actor Mahershala Ali will play Jack Johnson, the first Black heavyweight boxing champion, in a new upcoming HBO series, The Wrap reports. 

Unruly is a six-part series that will tell the story of Jack Johnson, the famous boxer who became the first Black heavyweight champ in 1908. According to Pop Culture, Johnson retained the title for seven years, eventually retiring in 1931 with a 70-11-11 record. The trailblazing boxer was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993. 


Ali will executive produce the series as well alongside Tom Hanks and Tony Award winning playwright Dominique Morisseau who wrote “Ain’t Too Proud,” a Broadway musical based on the life of hit singing group The Temptations. The series is based on the PBS documentary Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson by Ken Burns. The new series garners inspiration from the Burns’ doc, touting itself as a “bold exploration [depicting] the champion’s rise to athletic greatness and the costs he paid for his skin and defiance, which created a blueprint for Black resistance in every justice movement for generations to come.” 

The Moonlight actor has long said that playing Johnson was his dream role, having previously portrayed the iconic boxer in a stage production of “The Great White Hope.” Ali has several other projects in the works including his upcoming role in Marvel’s new film Blade

No word yet on when Unruly will be released but we’re definitely on the lookout!


Congratulations Mahershala!

Photo Courtesy of Kevork Djansezian/Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

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