*It’s probably safe to say that boxing champ Sugar Ray Leonard never thought he’d be serving as a technical adviser for a bunch of robots. But that’s exactly what he was tapped to do for the upcoming action flick “Real Steel.”
Opening this Friday (Oct. 7), the film stars Hugh Jackman as a hard-luck boxer whose can no longer earn a living in the ring because robots have replaced humans in the sport. He decides to become a promoter instead and teams up with his son Max (Dakota Goyo) to build and train a robot that can contend for the championship. [Scroll down to watch trailer.]
There were 26-and-a-half total live-action robots created for the film, but when computer-generated robots were made to throw down, motion capture technology was used – and Sugar Ray served as an adviser for these scenes. [Scroll down to watch featurette "Training With Sugar Ray Leonard."]
“I didn’t know how much these robots could duplicate a move,” Sugar Ray told EURweb. In addition to also advising Hugh Jackman on proper boxing technique, the 55-year-old said he was responsible for giving each of the major boxing robots – such as Zeus and Atom – their own unique boxing style.
“Because of the technology, these robots could do as much as we could do. It was amazing, he said. “That’s why I decided to give them their own personal style depending upon their design – like Zeus, such a big, strong, humongous piece of metal, I gave him a George Foreman type of style. For Atom – who reminded me of myself because he was kind of unassuming with big eyes and kind of sad looking, but he’s fast – I used that to add my style to it.”
Although Sugar Ray was brought in to give the robots some semblance of boxing authenticity, he was sure at the end of the day to let the robots be robots.
“I tried to make sure that it stayed close to boxing, but there has to be the fact that they’re robots and can do some things that normal boxers can’t, or are not allowed to do,” he said.
In November of 1982, Leonard retired from boing after discovering that he had a detached retina. But, he decided to return a year later, despite the chance that further damage could render him permanently blind. Leonard says that kind of decision is a testament to the drive and character of a professional athlete, and it’s a personality trait seen in Hugh Jackman’s character Charlie – who just isn’t ready to give up the sport he’s sacrificed so much for.
In the bonus audio below, Leonard explains what drove his decision to come out of retirement and risk permanent blindness – just to continue boxing.