Is The Champion (2020) Based on a True Story?

The 2020 drama film ‘The Champion’ is also known as The Champion of Auschwitz. Maciej Barczewski directed the Polish movie. It tells the story of Tadeusz Pietrzykowski (a Polish boxer), famous for his string of almost unbeaten victories at Nazi concentration camps.

Pietrzykowski fights for survival in Nazi camps during the height of the Second World War. The movie’s inspiration must have come from actual events and figures. Here’s everything you need about the inspiration for ‘The Champion.

Is The Champion based on a True Story or Fiction?

Yes, “The Champion” is based upon a true story. The film was made based on the true story of Tadeusz Pietrzykowski, a Polish boxer. The life of the oxer inspired the screenplay by Maciej Barczewski, the writer-director. Pietrzykowski was a Warsaw native, born April 8, 1917. His father, Tadeusz, was an engineer, and his mother, Sylvia, was a teacher. Pietrzykowski was a child when he joined the Legia Warsaw boxing club. Feliks Stamm trained him. Pietrzykowski quickly made a name for himself as a boxer and was at his peak in 1937. Pietrzykowski was forced to enlist in the army after Germany invaded Poland in September 1939.

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Pietrzykowski tried to flee Poland after Germany defeated Poland but was detained, tortured, and deported. He was moved from Tarnow prison to Auschwitz concentration camp on June 14, 1940. Pietrzykowski was one of the first to arrive at Auschwitz. Pietrzykowski started participating in unofficial boxing matches at the concentration camp in March 1941. His first fight against Walter Dunning was decisive in improving prisoners’ morale.

Pietrzykowski was a well-known name in the camp, fighting and defeating German officials through the boxing ring. Because of his unique fighting style, Pietrzykowski was known as the “Weiss Nebel,” or White Fog. Pietrzykowski was said to have lost just one fight in Auschwitz and received certain privileges for his victories.

Pietrzykowski later transferred to other camps like Neuengamme or Salzgitter. Pietrzykowski eventually settled in Bergen-Belsen, where he was freed in April 1945. Pietrzykowski later settled in Bielsko–Biala, where he worked as a postman and teacher of physical education after completing his studies at Warsaw’s University of Physical Education. Pietrzykowski, 74, died on August 16, 1991.

Cine Europa spoke with Maciej Barczewski, the writer-director. He talked about adapting the true story of the boxer to the screen. Barczewski said that Pietrzykowski was the first person he came across in a story about him. Before making a documentary on him, the director was fascinated by his life.

“I was fascinated by the fact that he was, for his fellow prisoners, a symbol for victory over Nazi terror. It turned out that he was a relatively unknown person today, even though he was forced to fight in duels due to the circumstances and place where he lived.

Barczewski said that he tried not to be a fake about Pietrzykowski’s past and worked closely with his daughter to create the film’s story. Barczewski admitted that he made some mistakes while adapting Pietrzykowski’s life to the screen. However, he explained in another interview that some narratives for biopics need some streamlining. He made some minor changes to certain events, characters, and locations. The director assured me that the film was true to its reality.

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The story of survival through the horrors at Auschwitz concentration camp is the inspiration behind ‘The Champion.’ The film portrays Tadeusz Pietrzykowski, a real-life boxer, as a source of strength and hope among camp prisoners. The film tells the story of his boxing feats and their impact on the camp and the prisoners. The makers also took great care to stick to the facts and only made minor adjustments that enhanced the true-life story. The result is an emotionally charged, dramatic, captivating retelling of Pietrzykowski’s life.

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