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Student film follows boxer’s transition from amateur to professional

Film student Samuel Pollock was uncertain when his classmate Matt Bendo first pitched the idea of making a documentary about Canadian boxer Justin Hocko.

But after meeting Hocko, says Pollock, he realized: “This is a story that has to be told.”

The two third-year communications majors started work on the project and watched it grow into something much bigger than they originally thought. Their 30-minute documentary, Rise of a Champion: The Justin Hocko Story, will enjoy a test screening Saturday, January 19, at Lakeshore Cinemas.

Bendo calls Hocko one of his best friends, dating back to their days together at St. Pius and St. Anne schools in Tecumseh.

“We thought we would follow him through maybe three days to give a little glimpse into what it’s like to be a national champion,” Bendo says. “Instead, we followed him every day for months.”

After their film was voted one of the best in professor Tony Lau’s documentary production class last semester, he suggested they submit it to film festivals. Saturday’s screening is just a lucky happenstance.

The manager of the Lakeshore Cinemas offered to Hocko to help with efforts to raise funds for him to compete in the Independence Cup tournament, February in the Dominican Republic. He agreed to show the student film for free—all proceeds will go to Hocko’s expenses.

The screening will begin at 11 a.m. Lakeshore Cinemas is located at 164 Commercial Boulevard in Tecumseh, just north of Essex Road 22. Admission is $10 at the door. For advance tickets or more information, visit a Facebook page for the film.