PANAMA returned to the world stage on Monday June 16 under more favorable spotlights than it has endured for the last six weeks.
Since April 3 the publicity glare has been on the Mossack Fonseca scandal and the release of the Panama Papers, and one month later the placing of the Waked family conglomerate on that Clinton list of businesses and individuals allegedly linked to laundering of drug money.
On Monday the lights moved to Cannes and a tribute to acting legend Robert De Niro with a special screening of Hands of Stone, portraying the rise and fall and redemption of Panama’s own legend: boxer Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran.
The film will be released August 26 in Panama and 2000 theaters in the United States.
The entire cast of the film, which also includes the Venezuelan Edgar Ramirez and Ana de Armas Cuba, paraded on the red carpet at Cannes, along with the Panamanian fighter, now retired, who accompanied them to the Cote D’azure.
Robert De Niro, 72 plays the legendary boxing trainer, American Ray Arcel, who for more than forty years buffed the gloves of a dozen world champions, including Roberto Duran, Benny Leonard, Ezzard Charles and Puerto Rican Sixto Escobar.
Venezuelan Jonathan Jakubowiz (Kidnapping Express) directed the film,which traces the life of El Cholo Duran from his humble childhood in El Chorrillo, in Panama City, where he had to shine shoes, in addition to serving as a waiter , painter and mechanic, on his way to boxing stardom. Edgar Ramirez (Carlos, Darkest Night) plays Duran, recreating one of the most emblematic fights in boxing history: Roberto Duran vs Sugar Ray Leonard in Montreal in 1980.
Leonard is played by singer and actor Usher Raymond. The Panamanian salsa singer Ruben Blades is Carlos Eleta, manager of the champion.
Duran won his first world title on June 26, 1972, when he beat Briton Ken Buchanan in the lightweight category.
Considered one of the greatest boxers of all time, Duran had more than 120 fights with 104 victories, 69 of them by knockout.
He was world champion in different categories, including lightweights who won 12 times. Among his fights, fans remember the victory over the Scot Ken Buchanan (1972) and US Sugar Ray Leonard (1980), Davey Moore (1983) and Iran Barkley (1989).