The world champion who survived boxing and thrived in Hollywood

Michael Bentt was forced into boxing by his domineering father but now he is plotting his own path among the stars

The former WBO heavyweight champion, Michael Bentt, is taking a break from writing a screenplay. He expresses himself on stage and screen as an actor and director these days, but thoughts of his life in boxing are never far from his mind. “My earliest memory as a young kid growing up in Queens was Muhammad Ali fighting in Germany. My dad was a huge admirer of Ali, or Cassius Clay as he insisted on calling him. He wanted a mascot who would become the next Ali and, unfortunately, I was that mascot.”

Bentt was born in London and grew up in a middle-class suburb of New York with a boxing-obsessed father who was intent on creating a champion, whether or not his son had any interest in the sport. Bentt’s father had built a reputation as a fierce street fighter on the streets of Kingston, before emigrating from Jamaica to the US to make his fortune. “Where I grew up was a decent and affluent place but some horrible stories went on behind those manicured lawns and nice cars. The niceness could be a mask.”

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