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Bleed for This (2016)

Starring Miles Teller, Katey Sagal, Ted Levine, Aaron Eckhart | based on the Vinny Paz true story, from his near fatal car accident to his return to boxing

Miles Teller
Born: February 20, 1987
Downingtown, Pennsylvania, USA
Vinny Pazienza
Born: December 16, 1962
Birthplace: Cranston, Rhode Island, USA
Aaron Eckhart
Born: March 12, 1968
Cupertino, California, USA
Kevin Rooney
Born: May 4, 1956
Birthplace: Staten Island, New York, USA
Katey Sagal
Born: January 19, 1954
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA
Louise Pazienza
Born: March 24, 1927
Birthplace: Cranston, Rhode Island, USA
Death: May 16, 2002
Ciarán Hinds
Born: February 9, 1953
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Angelo Pazienza
Born: May 24, 1919
Birthplace: Cranston, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Death: January 30, 2003
Ted Levine
Born: May 29, 1957
Bellaire, Ohio, USA
Lou Duva
Born: May 28, 1922
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Roy Souza
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Dr. Walter Cotter
Born: November 25, 1923
Dr. Carter had a tear in his eye. I could tell he felt for me, and he said, 'Son, I'm sorry to say you're not going to box again.' And I looked at him and I said, 'No, Dr. Carter, you're wrong. I am gonna box again.' I said, 'You don't understand what kinda man I am.' -Vinny Pazienza

Questioning the Story:

Did Vinny Pazienza idolize Muhammad Ali?

Yes. "I mimicked my life after him," said Vinny. "Muhammad Ali never got knocked out. Vinny Paz never got knocked out. I got up all the time." -Inside MMA

The real Vinny Pazienza (left) and actor Miles Teller (right) in the Bleed for This true story movie.

Did Vinny Pazienza really wear a leopard print Speedo to a weigh-in?

Yes. "The movie, we really didn't take too many liberties," says actor Miles Teller, "and that was just something that Vinny did in real life. It's just the kinda guy that he was." -Jimmy Kimmel Live

Was trainer Kevin Rooney really an alcoholic who was fired by Mike Tyson?

Yes. In fact-checking Bleed for This, we learned that the real Kevin Rooney struggled with both alcoholism and gambling. He is widely associated with being Mike Tyson's trainer. He was abruptly fired by Tyson in 1988 at the urging of boxing promoter Don King, who was trying to purge Tyson of all ties to his late trainer Cus D'Amato. Rumors that Tyson was partying more and training less might have also played a part in Rooney's ousting. However, Tyson's success in the ring was clearly hampered when he got rid of Rooney.

Did Vinny almost die after losing a July 11, 1988 fight against Roger Mayweather?

Yes, the title fight against Roger Mayweather was held at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas with celebrities like Sylvester Stallone in the front row. "After that fight, I almost died, literally," says Vinny, who during that time period had been struggling to make weight for his fights (a struggle depicted in the movie). He collapsed in the dressing room after the fight and was rushed to the hospital with near-fatal dehydration. Vinny claims to have seen himself rising up through the clouds. "The nurse said to my father, 'Mr. Pazienza, we're losing your son.' And when she said that to him, he grabbed me and he started shakin' me violently. He said, 'Champ!' and I heard it like, 'Champ! I don't care you lost! Don't go there!' And BOOM I came out of it. And that's the only reason why we're here today." -Providence Journal

Vinny Pazienza (top) almost died after losing a 1988 fight against Roger Mayweather.

Did Vinny Paz lose most of his money in a 1990s banking scandal?

Yes. In January 1991, he lost $300,000 (about four-fifths of his money) in a Rhode Island banking scandal (The New York Times). The state credit unions, which weren't federally backed, were looted by a corrupt banker. Thousands of people were cleaned out, losing billions of dollars. This was prior to breaking his neck.

Did Vinny Pazienza break his neck in a car accident?

Yes. In November 1991, Vinny Pazienza was 29 years old and had just defeated Gilbert Dele (watch the fight) to become the middleweight champion, then tragedy struck. "We just left. We just worked out in the weightlifting gym, got in the Camaro, you know, bald tires," recalls Vinny. "I held onto the side of the door panel, and as the car went skidding, I saw a big truck coming up. I just held on for dear life. I thought, I'm never gonna defend my world title, and then BOOM we got hit. ... When they grabbed me, the pain shot through my body, down my neck, my neck like was on fire. I was like, 'Stop! Stop! I think my neck is broke!'" A car had cut in front of Vinny's friend Kurt Reader's Camaro, causing Reader to slam on the brakes. Bald tires contributed to the car skidding across the road into oncoming traffic. The accident doesn't happen that way in the movie. Instead, they are hit head-on by a car that has drifted into their lane. -Inside MMA

"I broke C4 and I cracked C3 and C5 [vertebrae]" (Providence Journal). The Bleed for This true story confirms that in order to hold his broken neck in place, Vinny was forced to wear a Halo, a circular four-and-one-half-pound metal brace that screws into the skull at four points and has four rods that rest on the upper body for support. After the accident, he had to relinquish his junior middleweight world title, which he had only recently won. -Inside MMA

The real Vinny Pazienza (left) wore the Halo brace for three months and began training again while it was still on.

Was Vinny wearing a seatbelt when he broke his neck?

No. As reported by The New York Times in 1992, Vinny Pazienza was not wearing a seatbelt during the crash that left him with a broken neck and nearly ended his career in boxing. During that interview, Vinny took the reporter back to the scene of the crash and the reporter noticed that Vinny hadn't put his seatbelt on even then. His response, " 'Cause I'm crazy. I'm a fighter. I take punches. I don't think about accidents."

Did doctors really tell Vinny he'd never box again?

Yes, and Vinny shared his reply to their prognosis in a press conference, stating that he told the doctors that they were wrong and that he was going to box again. He said he told them, "You don't understand what kinda man I am."

After the accident, did trainer Kevin Rooney really tell Vinny he should give up?

In the movie, after Vinny (Miles Teller) breaks his neck in a car accident and is outfitted with a metal Halo to hold his neck in place, trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) tells him, "It's over. You gotta let go." Instead of giving up, this motivates Vinny to prove him wrong. This seems to be the case in real life too, as Rooney was indeed concerned Vinny could re-injure his neck again, or even die.

The real trainer Kevin Rooney (left) and his onscreen counterpart Aaron Eckhart (right).

Did taking the screws out of Vinny's skull really hurt as much as in the movie?

Yes. "The most excruciating pain of my life was when they took the screws out of my skull," says the real Vinny Pazienza. "It goes, 'Click!' And I go, 'Doc, you're goin' the wrong f***in' way!' Like, it felt like he was goin' in deeper, and he said, 'Vinny, I told you it was gonna hurt. When he did it I held on for dear life and that was it, and then this one, and then this one, and then this one. Ugly." Like in the Bleed for This movie, Vinny had refused anesthesia in real life too. -Inside MMA

Dr. Walter Cotter removes the Halo screws from Vinny's head in the movie (left). The real Vinny Paz (right) at a press conference where he announces he will fight again. Inset, a Halo bolt that had been screwed into Vinny's skull.

How long did Vinny have the Halo brace screwed into his head?

In the movie, Vinny wears the metal Halo brace for six months, but in real life he had it on for roughly three months, until February 14, 1992. -The New York Times

How long did it take Vinny Pazienza to return to boxing after the accident?

Against doctors orders, he had supposedly begun to train just five days after doctors had screwed a Halo into his skull to hold his neck in place. The filmmakers thought that audiences would find this fact too hard to believe and decided to imply that roughly a month passes before he begins to train again (Jimmy Kimmel Live). However, it should be noted that a 1992 Baltimore Sun article supports the movie and quotes Vinny as saying, "I began working out a month after the accident." In any case, 13 months after breaking his neck in the car accident, Vinny returned to the ring and beat former world champion Luis Santana in a 10-round decision.

The real Vinny Pazienza (top) began training while still wearing the four-and-a-half-pound metal Halo screwed into his skull. Miles Teller (bottom) trains as Vinny in the movie.

Did Vinny Paz win another world championship after recovering from a broken neck?

Yes. After recovering from the accident, he won the vacant IBO Middleweight World Title against Dan Sherry in 1993 and the vacant WBU Super Middleweight World Championship against Dana Rosenblatt in 1996. He also beat a past-his-prime Roberto Duran twice in twelve-round decisions in 1994 (watch the Vinny Pazienza vs. Roberto Duran fight) and 1995 to win the IBC World Super Middleweight Title. Roberto Duran's story was chronicled in the 2016 movie Hands of Stone starring Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramírez.

How many times did Vinny break his nose?

According to the Bleed for This true story, Vinny Paz estimates that he has had his nose broken at least 100 times, which is emphasized to some degree in the movie. -Daily Mail Online

Vinny Pazienza (left) estimates that he has broken his nose more than 100 times.

How long did Vinny continue to fight after coming back from a broken neck?

Vinny Paz fought for twelve more years before finally retiring in 2004. His last shot for a title came in 2002 with a loss against WBC World Super Middleweight Champion Eric Lucas. Fittingly, after Vinny hung up his boxing gloves, he went on to become a motivational speaker. Over the course of his career, he had a record of 50 wins (30 by knockout), 10 losses and 5 world titles. He was never knocked out. -Providence Journal

Vinny Pazienza Interviews & Fight Videos

After reading about the Vinny Pazienza true story vs. the movie above, listen to the fighter in the flesh by watching the Vinny Pazienza interviews, documentaries and fight videos below.

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