César Award-winning actor Edgar Ramírez has reached a milestone of epic proportions. The Venezuelan actor plays the role of legendary boxer Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Durán in Hands of Stone, a film that tells the story of the Panamanian boxer and his journey to making history. Ramírez talks with TODAY about the role of a lifetime, and what training was like beside a boxing legend.
Moving to Panama to train for his role with the South American hero himself, Ramírez says at the age of 65 Durán is still “a force of nature.”
“He shared a lot of his skills and a lot of the techniques with me, however there was always something he kept for himself as any other good fighter would,” Ramírez shared. “I think that fighters are like magicians, you know? They always keep their tricks and secrets somewhere protected up their sleeves.”
A secret that made Durán become one of the greatest boxers ever in during the 1970s. The former wild child, however, didn’t accomplish a successful career all on his own. Alongside coach Ray Arcel, played by Robert De Niro, the two became an unstoppable and fearful duo. The biopic follows their story though the ups and the downs that came along with their triumph.
“Arcel knew that Durán had it in him,” said De Niro. “He knows that he had to guide him and give him instruction and to be like a father figure for him at the same time.”
The undisputed welterweight boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, played by R&B icon Usher, also appearance in this film. Leonard’s rivalry with Durán was one for the history books, and a part of the legendary 1980s “Fabulous Four,” a group of boxers consisting of Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Durán, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler. Similar to Usher on the dance floor, Leonard was known for his rhythmic movements and footwork in the ring. To Usher, the film represents more for the Latin American community than just any ordinary boxing film.
“An amazing story about Roberto Durán, ‘Manos de Piedra’ for Latin America, for Latinos all over to show their support,” added Usher. “I mean this is an amazing story for Latinos, you know?”
Hands of Stone premiers this Friday.