Boxer Vinny Paz cried when he saw "Bleed for This," a Hollywood biopic about the life of the Rhode Island native.
Miles Teller stars as Paz, who returned to the ring after a near-fatal car crash that broke his neck in 1991.
The 53-year-old retired boxing champion said Thursday the movie is so realistic that watching it revived painful memories of when a doctor had to remove a halo medical device from his skull.
"It was really the worst feeling in my life. It was horrid," Paz said. "If it was today, I would have had him shoot me up with morphine. But back then, I just said, 'Take them out. I'll handle the pain.'"
Paz said he is pleased with director Ben Younger's movie, which was filmed entirely in Rhode Island. Paz said it accurately depicts his "wild child" character traits, the tough-love dynamics of the working-class home where he grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, and his stubborn and masochistic fight to get back into the ring after his spinal injury.
Anyone who watches the movie and isn't inspired to go out and do something great must "have some heavy polluted blood going through their brain," he said.
What made him cry was seeing his late parents brought to life on screen â Katey Segal plays his mother, Louise Pazienza, and Ciaran Hinds plays his father, Angelo Pazienza.
"It made me tear up that they couldn't see it," Paz said.
Paz spoke by telephone from Las Vegas, where he is planning to move soon, though he also intends to keep his longtime home in Warwick, Rhode Island. He has survived not just the 1991 crash on Warwick's Route 1 but years of legal trouble, including a domestic violence charge that was later dismissed. After gambling away much of his prize money in the 1990s, Paz said he's done with casinos, but still gravitates to the "24/7" lifestyle he finds in Vegas.
"I'm a little fast, a little different than everybody," he said. "Some people are very happy getting married and having kids. That's just not my thing. They do a 9-to-5 job and are as happy as can be. That's just not my thing."
His upcoming travel plans to promote the movie include trips to Italy, China and Dubai. He joked that he's also open to taking a White House job working for President-elect Donald Trump as his "secretary of athletics, maybe, or secretary of boxing." Paz knew Trump when he boxed at the real estate mogul's Atlantic City casinos, attracting big crowds there in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
"How many people can say this: Literally, like literally, I made millions of dollars for the president," Paz said. "He's gonna put me on his Cabinet somewhere for that."