Boxing has proved to be an ideal sport for the movies because of the mixture it offers of grace, violence, pathos and drama, as two protagonists slug it out in the ring, with at least one of them normally having a poignant back story.
From the early days of cinema, boxing movies have proved popular with filmmakers and audiences alike, and there have been some classics of the genre. Here are five of the best,
- Raging Bull
Directed by Martin Scorsese and with Robert de Niro in the title role, it is arguably not only one of the best boxing films, but also one of the greatest movies of all time. The film tells the story of middleweight champion, Jake LaMotta – – known as the Raging Bull – as he looks back on two decades of his life and tells how his violence in the ring was a reflection on his violence and temper outside it.
- When We Were Kings
Directed by Leon Gast, this Oscar-winning film recounts the events leading up to, as well as the story of the best -known heavyweight fight of all time, – the Rumble in the Jungle in Kinshasa, Zaire in 1974, between reigning champion George Foreman and underdog Mohammad Ali. It uses historical footage and interviews to explore wider issues such as the relationship between African American and the African continent during the Black Power Movement, both from a cultural and political viewpoint.
Although the film spawned five sequels and a spin-off franchise, purists insist that the original in the series is the best. It tells the story of small-time boxer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) with big dreams, who is given the chance to fight for the heavyweight World Championship.
- Million Dollar Baby
This film garnered Oscars for best picture, nest director (Clint Eastwood), and acting awards for Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman. It tells the story of how amateur female boxer Maggie Fitzgerald, is supported in her dreams to become a professional, by her friend and employer (Freeman) and an undervalued boxing trainer (Eastwood), despite previously being told that she was too old.
- The Cinderella Man
The movie is about the boxer James J. Braddock, who seemed washed-up but then who bounced back to become heavyweight champion and an inspiration to millions of Americans during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It stars Russell Crowe in the title role.