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Benedict Cumberbatch to star in gay boxer biopic Gypsy Boy

Benedict Cumberbatch to star in gay boxer biopic Gypsy Boy

Benedict Cumberbatch in the Imitation Game

Benedict Cumberbatch will star in Gypsy Boy, a new biographical documentary about a former bare-knuckle gay fighter.

Based on the memoir of Mikey Walsh, the film explores the relationship between a Romany gypsy boxer and his gay son.

Walsh’s father Frank wanted him to follow in his footsteps, but when he came out as gay in 1996, his family disowned him.

Benedict Cumberbatch in the Imitation Game

Cumberbatch will play Frank Walsh, with casting agents still on the hunt for the young gay boxer.

On the new role, Cumberbatch said: ‘I was immediately drawn to Mikey’s courageous and heart-breaking story.

‘His father Frank is unlike any character I’ve played before.

‘He’s a complex man torn between tradition and his love for a son struggling to come to terms with an identity that’s completely at odds with Frank and his culture,’ he said in a statement.

Protagonist Pictures will introduce the project to buyers at Toronto this week.

‘I used to get treated like a girl to humiliate me into being tougher’

In an interview with the Albert Kennedy Trust in 2014, Mikey Walsh said his father always tauntingly called him gay growing up.

He said: ‘I used to get treated like a girl to humiliate me into being tougher.

‘My dad’s family at Christmas used to buy me girl’s presents,’ he added.

Mikey Walsh
Mikey Walsh

‘I ran away from home when I was in my mid-teens. It was because I had to for my own safety. It was to save my own life,’ he said.

He left home when he was 15 and didn’t come out to his family until three years later through a letter to his mom. He asked his mom to meet him in a secret location away from the rest of his family.

She turned up, gave him a hug, said she loved him and said he did the right thing with running away.

He said: ‘I just did what I had to do… and what I had to do was leave.

‘There were times of being homeless and feeling like the lowest of the absolute low,’ he revealed.

Gypsy Boy is a number one best seller.

Walsh also wrote a second book called Gypsy Boy on the Run and is now a vocal LGBTI activist.