The real men behind the story
Interview with George Lee Martin
When did you meet Doc?
I met Doc in 1969 at the Pikeville reform school when we were still boys. We were best friends and practically grew up together.
How did you learn to box?
I watched all boxers. Just watched and watched. In jail my sparring partner was a heavy bag cause a lot of dudes didn’t want to spar with me, they said I was hitting too hard. When I first started out, I knocked the bag out of the wall, so another bag went up. I wasn’t trying to do it but I honestly didn’t know I was hitting it that hard until I was just playing with a dude and broke his nose.
Would you say that boxing saved you in some way? In prison?
It did help me hold myself together because that’s all I did. I ran every day, I did my exercise every day. I ran 27 miles a day, a thousand jumping jacks and a thousand sit-ups. They paid me just to exercise.
Did being on set remind you of those times?
It made me think about it yes. Most of the time I wasn’t listening to what they said cause it brought back a lot of memories; it was hard. And it’s odd when a dude’s playing you, you’re sitting there looking at yourself. Gbenga is a good imitation of me though. Everybody said we could be father and son.
George Lee Martin has long dreamed of building a boxing gym to help kids like him stay off the streets. We created GeorgeLeeMartin.com to help him raise the funds to achieve his dream while also benefiting his local community.
All donations go directly to George will be used to set up his boxing gym.
The producers of Heart, Baby! cover the admin fees.
Interview with Andy “Doc” Dixon
How realistic is your story in Heart, Baby!?
Heart, Baby! covers many, many years so if we were to make it as a linear story, then we would be making a mini series. So Angela had to shrink it. All the stories in Heart, Baby! are true but in film there are some characters that actually represent two or three people. But all the stories are genuine.
Jackson Rathbone plays Doc in the film. What was it like working with him?
It was wonderful. Jackson is just really good at what he does. He’s a great professional and wants all the information he can get his hands on so that he can bring truth to the character. He asked for my advice many times throughout the shoot, to ask if he was doing ok. Truth of the matter is, he didn’t drop the ball once. He was always great. Jackson played the role perfectly and was a godsend to this project.
How do you think audiences are going to respond to this story?
I think right now, maybe positively because I think people are beginning to wake up to the completely damaged criminal justice system that we have in the U.S. They’re realizing that you can’t fix it by letting a few non-violent drug offenders go home. You’re only going to solve the problem when you look at the worst of the worst and see what you can do with them because if you can deal with them, you can work with everybody.
Doc and his wife work in the prison reform movement. Their goal is to convert prisons into healing centers.
We all knew that George would have won the gold if he had fought in the 1984 Olympics. So at our first film festival premiere we had a super surprise for him and his family - we presented him with a replicat of the 1984 Olympic Gold Medal and one of the original tokens that all attendees got! It was so magical. The whole audience stood up in tears and sang the National Anthem. I show the video when you sign up for my personal list below, so you get to see the super behind the scenes and be a part of our Heart, Baby! family.