Although singer and entertainer Usher Raymond is not new to the big screen, the award winning star is taking on a challenge in playing boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard for an upcoming biopic, Hands Of Stone.
Billboard reports Usher has been prepping for the role for a year and hopes to rely on his energetic dancing ability to mimic the nimble footwork of Leonard. Although Usher’s a fit 172, he needs to lose another 22 pounds to pull off Leonard’s look.
“You couldn’t find a more stylized boxer than Sugar Ray Leonard,” Usher told Billboard via a telephone interview. “He was an incredible motion guy, the way he moved around the ring, and I think my dancing will make it easier for me to pick up his moves.”
The film, based on the life of Leonard rival Roberto Duran, also features Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramirez, the latter who plays the menacing brawler. De Niro plays Duran’s trainer, Ray Arcel, the first trainer to be inducted into the Boxing Hall Of Fame.
Hands Of Stone is both written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, and serves as one part romance film and one part sports thriller. Duran, nicknamed the “hands of stones” because of his brutal punches, was a world champion in four weight classes.
Usher’s taking the role seriously, and says he intends to meet with Leonard to pick the boxer’s brain. “He had such incredible discipline, and he was flashy and classy at the same time,” said Usher, after studying tape.
Serving a celebrity mentor on NBC’s The Voice, Usher has a full plate but seems ready to take on his first leading role in a major motion picture.
Hands Of Stone hits theaters in 2014.
Hit the next page to see more of Usher’s boxer’s physique that he posted on Twitter.