When fourth-year production major Mark Dellas would ask people to describe Floyd Patterson, they all said the same thing: “Greatness.”
“When I asked his family members to talk to me about him, whether it was his adoptive son or other boxers he would fight again, they would all say he was ‘greatness,’” Dellas said. “They’d all say he was one of the greatest boxers to ever live.”
Dellas is putting the finishing touches on his final project, titled “Greatness,” for his film seminar class.
It’s a documentary about two-time World Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson. Patterson was the youngest boxer to ever win the championship at age 21 and was the first person to ever reclaim the World Title after losing it the year after his first victory.
Dellas said he was inspired to do his documentary on Patterson not because of his career, but because of his life and the ties he has to the Hudson Valley. Patterson was sent to a reform school in Esopus when he was 10 years old and remained in the area until his death in 2006.
“He grew up here and continued to call this place his home until the end of his life,” Dellas said. “My documentary isn’t just the story of a really good boxer; it’s about a man who had a direct influence on so many people he came across.”
However, the documentary didn’t come without its struggles, Dellas said.
At the beginning of the semester, he was told there was a slim possibility he would be able to complete his project. Dellas said he even thought early on that it would be hard to do so.
But he was passionate about the project and persisted.
“When I first started, people told me I wasn’t going to be able to get in touch with his family members,” he said. “I finally sent out an ultimatum email, and then everyone started getting back in touch with me. That was a big turning point for me, and for this documentary.”
Once he got in contact with former opponents and family members of Patterson, Dellas said he traveled all over New York to conduct interviews and get footage. He also said by the end of the production, he will have spent $800 getting footage of Patterson fighting.
Even with imposing demands for the project, Dellas said it’s been worth the pursuit. Patterson, he said, is the kind of subject filmmakers want to document.
“Patterson was a very positive person, and people are attracted to positive people,” Dellas said. “I think Floyd Patterson had this attraction in his life, and its why people have so many great things to say about him. He wasn’t just a good person; he was a larger-than-life champion.”
Once he finishes the project for his class, Dellas said he plans to send the documentary to film festivals in the future. He believes the film will receive a positive response, especially from Patterson’s family and friends.
“He makes for a great piece,” Dellas said. “So far I’ve been told by peers and professors that it’s great. I’m going to show it to his family it’s done and I’m really interested to find out how they’re going to respond.”