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Born: November 28, 1988
Kingston upon Thames, London, England, UK
Birthplace: Liverpool, England, UK
Moore suffered an abusive childhood at the hands of his alcoholic father, as described in his book A Prayer Before Dawn, on which the movie is based. "I was brought up being told I was worthless and thinking there was no value in life," says Moore. He grew up in poverty in Liverpool's council estates (public housing) in Walton, where he began his slow slide into a life of crime and drug addiction (cocaine and heroin). "I felt alone and got mixed up with the kids on the corner, then drugs and crime were on the scene." He began committing crimes at the age of 16. Moore's backstory as a career criminal is kept to a minimum in the movie, which chooses to focus on his time in a notorious Thailand prison. -Liverpool Echo
After getting clean with the help of a rehab program, Billy Moore took the trip to Thailand as a means to turn his life around, hoping to give up drugs, alcohol and burglary, and start fresh as a boxer and stunt man. He arrived in Thailand in 2005 and taught English there. While he was clean, he even worked as a stunt double for Sylvester Stallone on Rambo IV. It was when he got back into fighting there that he got wrapped back up in drugs and crime. He had started to train in Muay Thai boxing, the country's national sport. "I got involved with underground [Muay Thai] fighting and found bad company again." He became addicted to crystal meth and ya ba (a highly addictive methamphetamine). -Liverpool Echo
Yes. The A Prayer Before Dawn true story confirms that on his first night in Chiang Mai prison, Moore slept on the floor of a mass cell with approximately 70 other inmates and a dead body next to him. Death was a commonplace occurrence in Thai prisons, and over the course of a week, he once counted 25 bodies being taken out covered in white sheets (Shaun Attwood Billy Moore Interview). "Thai prison, like all prisons, reveals the dark side of a person’s soul," says Moore. "It is how people behave when there are no constraints and outside limits are nonexistent. All the fury of the Thai people against the West is directed fully at Western prisoners; in the provincial prisons, at least, where little or no oversight exists." Moore says that foreigners like himself weren't uncommon. (Liverpool Echo).
He escaped from the hospital where he was recovering after having surgery to repair an injury to his stomach. After sneaking out in his shackles during the night, he realized he would have a better chance at survival if he stayed in the hospital and went back to prison. Considered an unlawfully-at-large fugitive, he could be shot on site while on the run. He had "walked for what seemed like miles" before deciding to return to his hospital ward. -A Prayer Before Dawn book
Not only was the writing of A Prayer Before Dawn therapeutic for Moore, he also wanted to expose the horrors he had seen while incarcerated in Klong Prem prison in Bangkok. "I decided to write it when I was in the prison in Bangkok," says Moore of the book. "I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing; murder, rape, corruption and the inhumane degradation. You couldn’t even invent or conjure up the things I saw and I just felt it was important to write my experiences down on notes that soon developed into a book." The bestselling memoir was published in 2014 under the title A Prayer Before Dawn: A Nightmare in Thailand. -Skrufff.com
One of the more memorable moments in the movie is when Billy Moore (Joe Cole) sinks his teeth into a man's neck and doesn't let go. He then stands up in a rage with the man's blood streaming down his face. In the film, this happens after he is refused painkillers (Tramadol). However, according to the A Prayer Before Dawn true story, this actually happened when Moore got into a fight after trying to stick up for two old men who were getting verbally and physically picked on by two Australians and an Iranian named Ali.
Moore asked the three men to lay off, but instead they confronted him. The Iranian, Ali, was up in Moore's face and the two Australians were standing beside him, one holding a chair and the other wearing cheap metal rings on both hands. Ali threw a punch but Moore lunged at him before it connected and sunk his teeth into Ali's neck. He didn't let go, even as he was struck with the chair in the back of the head. He was finally removed by guards who grabbed him around the neck.
Moore did punch a guard, but it wasn't until he was in the medic's office and they were making fun of him, saying he wasn't a good boxer.
No. The "ladyboy" inmate named Fame, who Billy Moore (Joe Cole) becomes involved with in the movie, is a fictional character. In attempting to answer the question, "How accurate is A Prayer Before Dawn?" we learned that Billy never became romantically involved with a transgender inmate, nor did he have physical relations with any of them. They did try to come on to him, but he rejected their advances. Like in the movie, the most attractive ladyboys were kept out of the general population for fear that they would be raped. It's true that they were treated like celebrities by the other inmates.
Though this specific incident appears to be fictional, it's not too far off from what Moore describes in his memoir. He talks about a Singaporean man being violently raped and beaten, who walked around like a zombie afterward. He also mentions being traumatized by the murders and rapes that occurred inside the prison on a regular basis.
The prison guards told Moore that he was gonna die if he kept letting himself be a target of violence. "You need to do something different," the guards told Moore. "You need to change." One of the commandos (prison guards) told Moore, "Look, you're like the Oscar De La Hoya of this prison. Why don't you get in the ring? Why don't you fight with those guys instead of with the gangs? With that, it became like family orientated, and he invited me into their gym, took care of me, sat with me, broke bread with me." -Shaun Attwood Billy Moore Interview
In the A Prayer Before Dawn movie, Billy (Joe Cole) is told that boxing and massive drug abuse led to a rupture that could result in him bleeding to death if he continues to fight. In real life, Billy's worsening stomach injury (hernia) actually stemmed from a prior scooter accident while he was in Laos (he was high on drugs, got distracted, and crashed his scooter into two oncoming bikes). The injury did plague him during a boxing match (not a Muay Thai match) against the prison's best boxer, an inmate named Pon who hated foreigners. Like in the film, Billy emerged victorious by way of a knockout.
Complications from stomach surgery to repair the hernia stopped him from competing on the prison's Muay Thai boxing team.
Not directly. Fighting is considered a charity event put on by Thailand's Department of Corrections. It allows prisoners to earn money and get reduced sentences. It also makes their stay much more bearable. In addition to being able to leave the prison to compete in matches, fighting helped Billy Moore get out of the worst part of the prison. Competing in inter-prison Muay Thai boxing matches allowed him to escape the hellish prison existence of the grim, overcrowded cells that he had initially found himself in, where even access to a chair was considered a luxury. Like in the movie, after he joined the prison's Muay Thai team, he was moved to the cushier "boxing" cell. He was able to leave his cell to train, and fighting indeed helped him win the respect of his fellow inmates, making him less of a target. Like drugs, Muay Thai had also allowed him to mentally escape his confinement. Watch video of Thailand prison Muay Thai boxing fights.
Muay Thai boxing didn't get him a reduced sentence. The complications from his stomach injury and subsequent surgery had prevented him from boxing while in the second Thai prison, Klong Prem. In real life, he was able to leave the prison after he put in a request with the British Embassy to be repatriated.
Though it's not in the movie, he begins his book by describing the chilling incident. Moore states, "A young Thai, no older than twenty-five, ran past me, his face showing pure terror. He slowed and turned to look at his assailant, who then passed me swinging his metal chair, striking the victim’s head. He lost balance, slipped, and hit the concrete with a loud thud. Another man appeared with a nine-inch knife, and stood over the young man’s body.
A crowd gathered; even trusties stood and watched as the older man repeatedly plunged the knife into the young Thai’s flesh. It wasn’t done in frenzy; it was slow, cold, and calculated. ...
The knifeman kept thrusting the blade into the young man’s body, each time sinking it in up to the handle. The knife went into his neck, lower back, chest, legs, and stomach; so many times I lost count.
I stood only a few feet away, watching in fascination and feeling guilty. Finally the victim lay still and quiet, in a pool of his own blood. It was horrible. I felt bad for not helping. But what could I do? This was a Thai problem. And I was a foreigner, one of many in Klong Prem prison."
Yes. "I met with Billy many times and we became great friends, so I really got to learn what makes him tick," says Cole, who is known for his work on the TV series Peaky Blinders. "I could get into the character and know how he’d react, and that meant we didn’t need to spoon-feed the audience." The movie was shot on location in Thailand at Nakhon Pathom Prison, which was retired as a functioning prison in 2014 after 116 years of housing convicts. The actors who portrayed the other inmates in the movie were real-life former prisoners and ex-prisoner boxers who spoke no English. The final sequence was shot in an active prison in the Philippines with 3,000 prisoners roaming around. -The National
Joe Cole spent months training in Muay Thai for the role. "It was important to feel like I could handle myself and had the endurance of a fighter," says Cole. "The sparring is real and the fights were shot in long takes with no cuts, which meant we had to actually hit each other." Cole even visited Liverpool, where the real Billy Moore helped him train. -GulfNews.com
Yes. As we investigated the A Prayer Before Dawn true story, we discovered that Moore briefly appears on screen at the end as his own father.
No. In the movie, Billy's dad comes to see him in the Thailand prison. This did not happen in real life. Billy doesn't mention seeing his family again in the book until after he is released from the UK prison that he was repatriated to. He does acknowledge his father at the end of the book, writing, "Although my dad was harsh when we were young, I still love and forgive him for how he behaved when we were kids."
Watch a 3-part interview with boxer Billy Moore, who discusses the brutality of the Klong Prem prison in Thailand. Then go behind the scenes with the actors and crew, who shot on location in a real Thailand prison.