Pierce Brosnan to play Irish boxing trainer Brendan Ingle in new film

Actor will star in Giant, an upcoming biopic of British fighter Prince Naseem Hamed

It has been announced that Pierce Brosnan is to play Brendan Ingle, legendary Irish boxing trainer, in an upcoming biopic of the charismatic British fighter Prince Naseem Hamed. Directed by Rowan Athale, the film, titled Giant, will take Hamed, played by Amir El-Masry, from working-class roots in Sheffield to a string of featherweight world championships. Sylvester Stallone, who reinvented the boxing film with Rocky, takes an executive producer credit.

Hamed, despite a split with Ingle in 1998, was unequivocal in his praise for the trainer at the time of his death in 2018. “I will never forget how Brendan laid the foundations for my boxing career, making me the fighter I became,” he said. “Brendan brought something amazing to the sport of boxing and will be sorely missed by all who have had the pleasure of his company over the years.”

Ingle, one of 15 children, was born in Dublin to a dockworker. He moved as a teenager to Sheffield where, while working in the steel industry, he began to forge a career as a professional fighter. Following his retirement in 1973, a local vicar persuaded him to help out at gym in the church hall. His first success came with Herol “Bomber” Graham, seen as one of the best post-war British boxers never to have won a world title, but he will, perhaps, be best remembered for that partnership with the volatile, quick-witted Hamed.

Ingle first encountered the future fighter when Hamed, from a Yemeni background, was just seven years old, and claimed that he immediately knew he was on to a winner. He later told the story of seeing him stand up to bullies in the playground. “Nobody could touch him,” Ingle said. “That’s when I knew he was special.” Ingle’s success with Hamed and other fighters was ultimately acknowledged with an MBE and an honorary doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University.


Deadline quotes the film’s synopsis as telling us the partnership between “Naz” and Ingle “propelled them to the top of boxing’s elite and unprecedented levels of global superstardom, all in the face of the rampant Islamophobia and racism of 80s and 90s Britain”. The film was originally set to shoot in Malta, but moved to the UK following the recent announcement by Jeremy Hunt, UK chancellor of the exchequer, of a new independent film tax credit.

Brosnan, best known for playing James Bond in the millennial years, has remained impressively busy. The Navan man will soon be seen opposite Clémence Poésy as a second World War veteran who flees his care home in Terry Loane’s The Last Rifleman.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist