Written by Nick Barkla (writer/director)
It was late at night and the phone rang. I answered and heard a familiar voice, edgy with excitement.
“They want me to fight for the world title in America.”
“In five weeks.”
“But you haven’t been training.”
“What are you going to do?”
And that’s how this documentary began.
Frank LoPorto, Melbourne born light-middleweight pro boxer and the WBA’S number 12 ranked fighter in the world, had been offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to fight for the world title in America against undefeated champion Austin Trout, a Texas-based Southpaw whose scheduled opponent had pulled out of the fight with a broken hand.
With only five weeks to prepare, Frank was up against it, but at the age of thirty-three he was in no mood to wait around. He hit the gym the next day bright and early, and so did I.
There was an obvious urgency behind filming which demanded a mostly hand-held, stripped back cinema verite style of film-making where my intention was to have the viewer share in Frank’s excitement, and leave them gasping for air and wrestling with their own sense of identity as the fight unfolded.
‘Inside Fighter’ touches on themes of courage, sacrifice and ambition, but most tellingly focuses on the pain of defeat. Frank is devastated by his loss and unprepared for the psyche fallout that follows. With his childhood dream gone, he must be brutally honest with himself: if he was properly prepared, could he have beaten Austin Trout? Or was the champion just too good – an elite fighter on another level?
Frank’s answer will allow him to move on with his life, or face a lifetime of pain and regret.
Gritty, raw and immediate, the film’s gift to an audience is Frank’s willingness to reveal himself, allowing the viewer an intimate and heartfelt look at a man determined to do his best against almost impossible odds.
I was immensely moved by Frank’s tireless efforts along the way, and hope this film stands as a testament to his courage and humility as both a fighter and a man.
Inside Fighter stars Frank LoPorto and is written and directed by Nick Barkla. The documentary screens tonight at the Melbourne International Film Festival.