Created by Anastasios Papapostolou, the 26 minute-long documentary follows the life of Greek boxer Vaggelis “Cobra” Chatzis. The Greek professional fighter struggled through a tough upbringing and the physical challenge of only having one arm to pursue a path in the world of boxing. Today, Chatzis is recognized as the only one-armed competing boxer in the world.
Papapostolou opened up about his inspiration for filming the documentary “The Greek”, saying “I felt it was the most inspiring underdog story I had stumbled upon during my 15 years in journalism.”
Within Vaggelis Chatzis’ journey, the filmmaker saw a wider story playing out in the boxer’s struggles. As he puts it, “In a sense, it includes the daily struggle of the Greeks that are fighting in an uneven playing field – to break down stereotypes that have been following them for years.”
Watch the trailer:
Vaggelis was born with a tumor in his right hand and cancer cells quickly spread up to his elbow. By the time he was three months old it required the removal of his right forearm. Making his way throughout the world with only one arm is the only life he’s ever known – and he is definitely intent on making the most of it.
We asked Chatzis what it feels like to see his story premiere as a documentary at a festival, where an American audience will get a revealing glimpse into his life.
He responded, “I’m so happy this is happening. I hope other people will see this story and gain strength from it, to overcome whatever challenges they may be facing.”
Filming the documentary was a long and emotionally intense process, as it required Chatzis to relive a lot of old memories. As he put it, “I felt really strange sometimes when we were shooting the documentary. Because it was like I was reliving my past, both the good and the bad, and that is a very weird thing to experience.”
And Vaggelis’ past has been, at times, a very rocky one. He grew up in a tough Athens neighborhood full of street crime. In elementary school, he was bullied and teased relentlessly. As he got older, he lashed out, resorting to anger and violence.
Some time after high school, Vaggelis moved to England to join his sister who already lived there, and escape from, as he calls it, “living like a thug”.
Speaking about his future goals, Vaggelis came back to this idea of inspiration: “In the short-term future, I want to be able to transfer my strength and my motivation to those who are in need of it.” And after overcoming the many obstacles life put in his way, Vaggelis has all the drive in the world, and not only physical strength, but plenty of inner strength as well.
Many Greeks worked for over a year to bring this story to life, including screenwriter and editor Konstantinos Mousoulis, director of photography Odysseas Karadis, and music composter Georgios Soumelidis. Anastasios Papapostolou served as a screenwriter in addition to being a director and producer. Vaggelis Chatzis’ major sponsor is EKO.
Watch more teasers from the documentary:
Currently, Vaggelis has headlined some huge boxing events in Greece and lays claim to 4 wins in professional boxing matches, as well as the No Limits title belt. He continues to rise in the boxing world, despite the difficulties he has encountered, proving that almost any dream is possible no matter what obstacles life may throw in your way.
If you want to see the inspiring documentary on the life of Vaggelis “Cobra” Chatzis, check out the premiere of Greek Reporter’s “The Greek”, at the LA Greek Film Festival on June 8 at 4 PM.
Source: Greek Reporter (with edits)