Athletes, sports personalities and Hollywood’s creative minds alike gathered on Wednesday night at NeueHouse Hollywood for the premiere of a documentary that hopes to tell a story about a different side of a community in Washington, D.C.
“They Fight” follows the journey of three young boxers as they train and find refuge in the boxing ring from D.C.’s Ward 8 neighborhood.
“It’s a beautiful thing to tell a story about young black men who are being mentored by black men and have it just be a story about humanity,” said Oscar winner and musician Common, producer of the documentary, to the crowd in NeueHouse. “Little black boys in all our inner cities that deserve a chance, and with the right mentorship and guidance these kids can prevail through anything.”
“There’s something special about D.C. because all we hear is the noise of politics and that’s what we all get as the general public,” said director Andrew Renzi. “But there’s these incredible stories happening in that pocket that we are just ignoring because it’s so loud in D.C. and I just wanted to lift up that community and city.”
Ragahleak “Peanut” Bartee, Quincey Williams and Lamar “Twin” Odoms are young boxers who take part in the Lyfe Style Boxing training program to avoid trouble and train for the 2017 Junior Olympics.
“Where we come from it’s hard and tough,” said Odoms. “People feel like there’s no way out and the only way out is getting in trouble and get into bad things. There are other ways like boxing, other sports and stay focus, stay out of the streets.”
The boxers are coached and mentored by Sterling “Scoop” Thorton, who tries to help the athletes stay out of trouble but has his own personal demons to fight as well.
“Without boxing what do they do? They don’t know how to rap, they smart in school, they are students, but they love boxing,” Thorton said.
Although he grew up in Chicago, Common saw a commonality with what the boxers were going through, leading him to become involved with the film.
“I relate to these kids from D.C. and their stories. I felt it and that’s why I wanted to be part of it,” he said. “They [boxers] could have been from India and I still would have felt it.”
Along with Common, the film is produced by Argent Pictures, which partners with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Charlotte Hornets guard Tony Parker, former NFL linebacker Derrick Brooks and former NBA All-Star Michael Finley.
“We need to lift up people in our communities that are willing to help the young people in our communities no matter if they made mistakes in their past wherever their situation is,” said Renzi. “If they are willing to help, we need to reward that, we need to be there for them because a lot of times we will turn our backs on people because some of the mistakes they’ve made in their past even though they are probably the right people to be helping our young kids because they have lived life.”
“They Fight” will premiere nationwide along with Sunday’s NFL broadcasts on Fox. It’s now in select theaters in L.A. and New York City. The documentary is part of the “Magnify” documentary series that launched in November 2017.