Mahershala Ali to Play Jack Johnson, the First Black Heavyweight Boxing Champion, in New HBO Series

Mashershala Ali is ready to hit the boxing ring very soon. The two-time Academy Award winner will [...]

Mashershala Ali is ready to hit the boxing ring very soon. The two-time Academy Award winner will executive produce and star as Jack Johnson, the first Black Heavyweight Boxing Champion, in a new HBO limited series according to The Wrap. The series is titled Unruly and will be based on the PBS documentary Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.

Unruly, which will be a six-part series, is described as an "unapologetically Black, no-holds-barred telling of Jack Johnson, the world's first Black Heavyweight Boxing Champion. This bold exploration depicts the champion's rise to athletic greatness and the costs he paid for his skin and defiance, which created a blueprint for Black resistance in every justice movement for generations to come." Tom Hanks will serve as an executive producer on the film along with Tony Award winner Dominique Morisseau, who will also write the series.

Johnson became a heavyweight champion in 1908 after being Tommy Burns in Australia. He retained the title for seven years before losing it to Jess Willard in 1918. Johnson went on to win his next 13 fight but never got a chance to at the heavyweight title. His last match was in 1931 when he knocked out Brad Simmons in two rounds. He finished his boxing career with a 70-11-11 record. Johnson died in a car accident at the age of 68 in 1946. He was the inaugural inductee to The Ring magazine's Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954 (disbanded in 1987) and also inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993.

Ali is a rising star in Hollywood after winning Oscars for his performances in Moonlight and Green Book. He's also known for his roles in the Netflix series House of Cards and the HBO series True Detective.

"I'm just trying to find a balance, man, Ali said in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2018. "Trying to be responsible with my choices, do meaningful work. Handling the influx of work opportunities, and how demanding that is to do well. Then the family thing — fighting to make sure their needs are met, your wife and your child. And then make sure I have time for myself! Because I've always been a bit of a loner." Along with starring in Unruly, Ali is set to in the new Marvel film Blade.