Brawler's biopic punched up


NEW YORK -- Boxing legend Rocky Marciano is coming to the big screen in his first authorized biopic.

Morris S. Levy's M.E.G.A Films has acquired rights to Marciano's story from his family and will produce a feature from a script by first-time writer Terri Apple.

The film will follow Marciano from childhood in blue-collar Brockton, Mass., to his 1969 death in a plane crash. He was the only champion boxer to retire from his professional career undefeated, ringing up six heavyweight championships and 49 straight wins, 43 by way of knockout.

The fighter's younger brother, Lou, gave Levy and Apple never-before-revealed details about the athlete's life, including his relationship with his wife and father, for an original draft written before the writers strike. Marciano's family said they hope the film will erase memories of the unauthorized 1979 ABC telefilm "Marciano" starring Tony Lo Bianco and the 1999 Showtime telefilm "Rocky Marciano" starring Jon Favreau.

"They didn't have any similarities to my brother," Marciano said. "He was a very restless, impatient man -- very curious and bright, not your typical fighter from the streets."

Levy produced the summer's ThinkFilm comedy "The Ten" starring Paul Rudd and Winona Ryder and the upcoming teen comedy "Harold" starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Nikki Blonsky. He plans to ready the Marciano biopic for production late next year with a studio or mini-major partner and hopes to capture the recent successes of such films as "Ray" and "Walk the Line."

Boxing aficionado Apple has spent 25 years as a voice-over artist, written the TV pilot "Bomb Squad" and obtained the life rights of another championship fighter, Aaron Pryor.

Levy is repped by attorney John Hughes. Lou Marciano is repped by attorney John Daniels.