Former boxing champ MARVIN HAGLER is quietly becoming a movie star in Italy after spending the past 16 years trying to become a superstar there.

The 50-year-old sportsman, who retired from the ring in 1988, moved to Italy, learned the language and took acting lessons -and now he's an Italian movie favourite.

He made his debut in the straight-to-video Italian film INDIO in 1989, in which he starred alongside Brian Dennehy, and has since played a number of villains in cult Italian films like VIRTUAL WEAPON and NIGHT OF FEAR.

Hagler says, "I'm fighting a stereotype that boxers can't talk, can't read, can't act. I want to surprise everyone.

"I've fallen in love with the whole country (Italy), the whole culture."

12/07/2004 09:34