The Story of a Sarasota Dragon

Sarasota is known better as a home to high-wire acts than heavyweights, but the community also produced two-time heavyweight champion China “The Dragon” Smith. Directors Ray Rodriguez and Lori Collins spoke with SRQ about bringing Smith’s story to the screen in a short film, with an assist from the voice of a certain Sarasota daredevil.ChinaSmithmodernSmith at one point was the ultimate success story, winning two titles, but then he saw a drop-off in success inside the ring, according to director Rodriguez. The story is recounted in China “The Dragon” Smith: The Second Chance, which over 21 minutes chronicles Smith’s early career and his renewed efforts to take the title again.

“During his six years off, he took time out as director of PAL (Police Athletic League), taking kids off the street and keeping them off drugs),” Rodriguez said. “Those kids are success stories today, so now is the time he is making a comeback.”

Producer Lori Collins said the story is an amazing one that festival-goers will love.

If you haven’t heard Smith’s story before, you may be more familiar with one of his classmates from his school days in Sarasota—Nik Wallenda. The world-famous daredevil provides the narration for The Second Chance.

The film is part of the Shorts 9: SRQ program, screening Tuesday, April 8, at 9:30pm, and again on Friday, April 11, at 2pm.

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