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Edgar Ramírez Speaks Five Languages. Has One Peculiar Habit.

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Repeating Islands

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An interview by Kathryn Shattuck for The New York Times.

To portray the Panamanian boxing legend Roberto Durán in “Hands of Stone,” Edgar Ramírez learned how to throw a punch — and to take one.

“I needed to go through the struggle of becoming a fighter,” Mr. Ramírez said. “I needed to feel that through my body in a very physical, raw way.”

Jonathan Jakubowicz’s biopic follows Durán from the mean streets of Panama City into the ring in North America, where in 1980 he defeated Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond) for the world welterweight title.

And Robert De Niro, who 36 years ago starred as the boxer Jake LaMotta, plays Durán’s American trainer Ray Arcel. “To have ‘Raging Bull’ in your corner is a dream come true,” Mr. Ramírez said.

A former executive director of a Rock the Vote-like nongovernmental organization, the Venezuelan-born Mr. Ramírez…

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