From Boxing Ring to Red Carpet: Pennsauken Police Officer Charles Brewer, Jr. Debuts in Foreman Biopic


Training with his father, former boxing champion Charles “The Hatchet” Brewer, led Pennsauken police officer Charles Brewer, Jr. to be cast in a Hollywood dramatization of the life of George Foreman.

By Matt Skoufalos | April 24, 2023

Charles Brewer, Jr. (left) and his father, Charles ‘The Hatchet’ Brewer. Courtesy of Charles Brewer.

Growing up in Pennsauken, Charles Brewer, Jr. was always an athlete.

At Pennsauken High School, he ran track — his first love — and played football.

But despite growing up in the gym around his father, super middleweight champion Charles “The Hatchet” Brewer, Brewer, Jr. hadn’t considered taking up boxing.

As he approached adulthood, he thought he finally might give it a try.

Even then, his father waited him out for about a year, just to see if the interest was real.

“I wasn’t one of those fathers that was, ‘because I did it, you have to do it,’” Brewer said.

“Not with the sport of boxing,” he said. “That’s not a sport that you push upon a person.

“You don’t play boxing at all,” Brewer said. “This is something that you live. [Because]  in this sport, you can literally die.”

It was two straight years of training and sparring with more seasoned and skilled training partners before Brewer believed his son was ready to take an amateur fight. The Hatchet was rightly wary that his own, impressive professional record (40-11 in 51 fights with 21 knockouts in a 16-year career) could set his son up for failure if he wasn’t locked in.

“He just wanted me to be ready,” Brewer, Jr. said. “Being from Philly, guys are going to be like, ‘Oh, you’re his son?’ And they’re not going to take it easy on me. They want to be a part of that and someone who beats that.”

“When I’m in the gym, I’m not your pop,” Brewer said plainly. “I’m The Hatchet, and I’m going to execute and train you just like that.”

The Hatchet filled his son’s gauntlet with some of the best sparring partners he could find in the Philadelphia area. Fighters like Jesse Hart, who’d won the USBA and NABO super middleweight titles on the undercard of the 2015 Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight. Or “Fast” Eddie Chambers, a former USBA heavyweight champ, who taught Charles, Jr. how to deal with a larger, speedy, and technically skilled opponent.

“I didn’t want to get him in there with amateurs,” Brewer said. “I need somebody who, when that bell rings, they’re going to look at him like they look at the opposition.

“The way I trained my son is the same way I trained myself,” he said. “Every and anything is going to be coming at you, at every particular angle, and I want you to be prepped and ready for it. I want to see if you can handle these shots and throw your own.”

Battling with skilled veterans in the gym helped build Brewer, Jr.’s confidence, and by 2020, he was ready to turn pro. On January 31, Brewer, Jr. TKO’d Kyl Fritz in the second round at Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. It was the professional debut for both men.

However, building on that victory became next to impossible for Brewer, Jr. during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He went from having five or six fights in the works to none, all while wearing himself out training for bouts that were either postponed or canceled altogether.

“It was stressful telling people to buy tickets, and promoting myself; hitting up promoters trying to get a fight,” Brewer, Jr. said “You’re training at 100 percent for a year, and your body can’t take that.”

But in the process of keeping himself ready and building up hype for a pro career, Brewer, Jr. was also posting his workouts to social media. By September 2021, those videos had caught the notice of Camden City native Khris Davis, whose younger brother was a friend.

Davis had landed the titular role in Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World. He thought Brewer, Jr. might be a good fit to play one of Foreman’s opponents in the film.

“He said, ‘Would you mind if I forward this [clip] up to some other guys?” Brewer, Jr. remembers. “Next day, I’m at Montegrillo’s, and I get a call from talent acquisition at Sony. I think it’s a scam.”

In no time at all, Brewer, Jr. was on a Zoom call with director George Tillman, Jr. The interview was “super-dry,” by his recollection, and lasted all of 20 minutes. The next day, Davis told him, “That was essentially you auditioning.”

Despite his friend’s assurances that the director was sold on him, Brewer, Jr. didn’t hear anything more until April 2022, when his phone rang after work one evening. It was a California number.

Tillman, Jr. was calling to offer him the chance to play heavyweight champion Michael Moorer, the undefeated 27-year-old who fought a 45-year-old Foreman in November 1994, just seven months after having taken the lineal, IBF, and WBA title belts from Evander Holyfield.

“[Tillman, Jr.]  said, ‘We’re excited to start working with you. A couple of people will call with your itinerary,” Brewer, Jr. said. “I hang up, tell the wife, ‘I officially got it!’ The next day, they’re like, ‘In a week, we’re flying you out.’”

It can be difficult for a police officer to arrange a significant amount of time off, let alone traveling on short notice to film a movie. But Brewer, Jr. said his sergeant and the Pennsauken Police Department in general were “super-supportive” of his opportunity, and helped him get to the set “stress-free,” so he could focus on the movie and his choreography.

For an athlete to hone his body movements and reactions in response to the flow of competition is one thing; learning staged fight choreography is another. The production team wanted Brewer, Jr. and Davis to recreate the Moorer-Foreman fight, punch for punch.

“That was the attitude down there: ‘This is going to be perfect,'” Brewer, Jr. said. “We’re not going to strive for perfection, we’re going to achieve it. They wanted someone to watch the real fight, and compare it to the movie, and not be able to tell the difference.

“Fighting is one thing; it’s reactive, you make moves because you see openings,” he said. “When you have to learn someone else’s style, and how they react to things, the placement of their punches, their footwork, it was a lot harder.”

While learning how to re-enact a 20-year-old title fight in exacting detail, Brewer, Jr. faced another unexpected challenge. Having learned that Moorer weighed in at 222 pounds at the time of his fight with Foreman, Brewer, Jr. bulked up to match him. On set in New Orleans, however, he was asked to drop it so that he wouldn’t dwarf his costar on screen.

“I almost felt like I was training for a fight again; eating super clean, doing two-a-days,” Brewer, Jr. said. “It’s hard to eat healthy in Louisiana when everything is fried and Cajun.”

Brewer, Jr., who does not have an acting resume, also had to learn to immerse himself in the character. Shaving his head to more closely resemble Moorer helped get him into the role.

“I look in the mirror, I don’t look like me, I am now him,” Brewer, Jr. said. “I’m going to perform like him. You are not Charles Brewer, Jr., you are Michael Moorer. You are the champion, and you are getting ready for a heavyweight showdown against a living legend.

“That’s how we trained; that’s how we take on that persona,” he said. “I don’t care if I’m in the shower, I’m doing this with conviction.”

From left: Pennsauken Det. Sgt. Vito Moles, Ofcr. Charles Brewer Jr., Chief Phil Olivo. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

When it came time to shoot the fight, lights, cameras, and crowd of assembled extras provided all the atmosphere that was needed.

“I’m in the corner, and we’re shooting scenes, and I’m looking over, and it’s not Khris; this is showtime,” Brewer, Jr. said.

“This is a real crowd, and I’m about to really put on a show.

“They’re really cheering you on,” he said.

“It didn’t feel like I’m doing something fake. This is a real fight, these are real punches; this is real fatigue, this is real blood.”

Brewer, Jr. got compliments on his performance from Davis and Tillman, Jr. both, but the moment that stuck with him most was the tap on the shoulder from veteran actor Forrest Whittaker, who said simply, “You did a great job.”

“It almost feels like a high,” Brewer, Jr. said. “Policing is my career, but it’s almost like you’re doing three different careers at the same time. People about to see you on the big screen, people at the boxing gym.

“What’s the best way to go about this?” he said. “Do I try to do another film? Do I allow this to propel me to the undercard of a big fight? Time will tell. I’m going to just enjoy this for the time being.”

Whether he takes another run at either prizefighting or acting, Brewer, Jr. has his father to thank for both.

If it’s boxing, Brewer said he would of course support his son’s pursuit of a championship; however, he “would let him have a strong thought about what it is you’re doing and your reasoning for doing so.”

“Unless you are in this to become a champion, it’s a waste of time,” Brewer said. “It’s not as easy as it seems, and chasing that dollar can get you brain-dead in boxing. In law enforcement, you’ve got a career already that’s more dangerous.”

Brewer himself knows what it takes to make that choice: before The Hatchet made his bones, he had a strong career in data analysis that his coworkers couldn’t believe he’d risk by getting into the ring.

Charles “Bam” Brewer, Jr. (left) and Charles “The Hatchet” Brewer. Courtesy of Charles Brewer.

“I would constantly get people saying, ‘How in the hell — better yet, why in the hell — do you want to leave this to go get your brain knocked out?” Brewer said.

“Man, that’s a high that you would never come off of.

“When I go into that gym, I’m a totally different person,” he said.

“You wouldn’t even know that this person existed,” Brewer said.

“When I’m here, in this environment, that environment doesn’t exist. There was always a why and a how, going from this to that.”

The Hatchet did have his kick at the can in cinema, too: during his career, Brewer said he was invited to audition for one of the Rocky sequels, but his natural performance didn’t translate well to film.

“They were telling me my actions, my style, was too much like realistic boxing,” Brewer remembered. “I don’t know how to act like I’m throwing a jab. I’ve got to shoot it like I shoot it. It didn’t work out.”

For Brewer, the emotional high of having his hand raised in a championship bout was unparalleled. The adrenaline rush of everything that had brought him to that point — early-morning runs and late, sleepless nights; 100-degree days in the gym — was fulfilled in the moment.

For his son, pulling off the Moorer-Foreman re-enactment in a major motion picture was the closest thing to that feeling.

“The anxiety, the pressure; nothing has replicated that, other than boxing,” Brewer, Jr. said.

“When we go to the premiere in L.A., I’m going to be there with a guy I’ve seen since I was younger; his parents, who’ve been second parents to me; and my wife,” he said. “It’s a great thing to celebrate that moment with people that you really care about.

“I spent the time portraying Michael Moorer’s legacy, portraying George Foreman’s legacy, and I’m creating my own legacy, and portraying the department in a positive way,” Brewer, Jr. said.

Please support NJ Pen with a subscription. Get e-mails, or follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


Comments are closed.