What is the difference between a ring and a stage? Judging by the emotions conveyed by Patrizio Oliva's show, it would seem that it is almost natural to switch from one to the other.
After all, we have a small space, limited by ropes and placed in full view, and many people who look at you and scrutinize you eagerly. Yet it doesn't have to be that easy.
I've never been to a boxing show, my father was a fan and had practiced it as a young man, but apart from a few nights to watch Nino Benvenuti I don't remember anything because he left us very soon.
But I knew the name Patrizio Oliva, his victories were also our victories of a small Italy that defeats the great champions. He represented our David against the Goliaths of American and Russian schools.
And when I saw that his show ‘Patrizio Vs Oliva’ was on stage in Colleferro I hoped to be able to interview him and I was granted.
The show tells the story of him, but in a theatrical way. I thought I'd find the typical style of news theater and instead I attended a show studied with class in every detail.
It is not an acted biography, but it is the play of a biography. Beautiful.
Two actors, Patrizio and his 'mother' (a very good Rossella Pugliese who acted with the Calabrian accent of Polistena's mother) with a scenography designed to change with small movements of the actors and transmit completely different sensations, and a great direction by Alfonso Postiglione.
Patrizio Oliva is an actor, not a sportsman who plays a script, but an actor who plays the role of a champion. His moves on stage and his voice are natural and involve you in the life story of a boy who comes from the street, who lives in the misery and pain of the death of a brother and an abusive father and who seeks his way.
The story of a sporting passion and a hunger for redemption that make you accept all the sacrifices you need to make to savor the taste of victory.
“And even when you win your first medals you don't stop fighting. Because at that point you no longer fight against the opponent but against yourself, against the flattery of life that could lead you to choose comfort and lose concentration in sport. You fight against yourself and you have to face your own monsters”.
Patrizio overcame all this and was ablet to transform his pain into strength. He kept his brother Ciro, who seemed predestined for a successful life in Napoli football, inside himself and brought him to the top of the world by winning the gold medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
And when he had trouble with his hand, he learned to fight using only one arm.
He brought together the pains of the family, making them all champions and he must have transmitted respect and love if the author of his biography is Fabio Rocco Oliva, son of another of his brothers. From his gaze and the way he owns the space in the dressing room I ask him how he made it from the ring to the stage:
“It was thanks to the director Luciano Capponi who once saw me and immediately told me that I would be a great actor. I was a little perplexed, but I agreed to play the role of Pulcinella in a show that we took all over Italy. And then a new world opened up that I really like."
The show ends where Patrizio Oliva's life as a man begins. Today he is a successful professional who has never forgotten the difficulties of the beginnings and the opportunities that sport can give to so many young people who have to face difficult situations.
Patrizio is an entrepreneur, a motivator and manages a gym where kids from families in difficulty can go for free. But they have to work hard. Because it is the sport that transmits the values of life.
Values that he also passed on to his 4 children who today are all successful people each following their own path and passions, his daughter Alessandra will be the next added consul in New York.
It's when sport becomes a discipline that you learn to face yourself and you can become champions. At that point it doesn't matter if you are a champion in the ring or on the stage because whatever the choice, you have the right cards to play and become true professionals.
And this is also the message of the show and after seeing it I am sure I will go back to see Patrizio Oliva on stage.