13 June 2013 10:08 AM, PDT | Huffington Post | See recent Huffington Post news »

New York — Jazz composer Terence Blanchard couldn't have imagined how timely his opera about a gay boxer would become when he accepted a commission three years ago.

Blanchard's "Champion" – with a libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Michael Cristofer – is based on the life of former world welterweight and middleweight champion Emile Griffith. Its world premiere at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis on Saturday comes just weeks after NBA center Jason Collins became the first active male pro athlete from one of the four major North American team sports to come out as gay.

Griffith's greatest triumph came in a nationally televised welterweight title bout in 1962 when he knocked out Benny "The Kid" Paret by battering him with 17 punches in seven seconds, sending his rival into a coma. Paret died 10 days later.

At the weigh-in, the Cuban-born Paret had angered Griffith by using an anti-gay Spanish slur. Thirty years later, »


- AP

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