Boxing movies are a combat sport of English origin in which two participants of similar weight fight each other with their fists in a series of one to three-minute intervals called rounds. Victory is achieved if the opponent is knocked down and unable to get up before the referee counts to ten (a Knockout, or KO) or if the opponent is deemed too injured to continue (a Technical Knockout, or TKO). If there is no stoppage of the fight before an agreed number of rounds, a winner is determined either by the referee’s decision or by judges’ scorecards.
In the passage above boxing is explained as two people fighting of similar weight, however rarely of similar backgrounds. In ancient times gladiators were pited against each other to fight to their deaths for entertainment. A gladiator was often the underdog fighting for survival against a superior force.
On the big screen boxing movies have become more successful than any other sports related film. Boxing movies such as Rocky and million Dollar Baby are the only sports related films to win Acadamey Awards for Best Picture.
Directors of boxing movies have the great ability of creating characters with so much in common with the audience. Characters who come from disadvantage backgrounds that are used to scrapping for food and money to support families and loved ones, thus when it comes to fighting for survival in a boxing ring they have what it takes to win.
However they never have the guidance or confidence to realize their full potential. This is where directors creates a kind, lovable, knowledgeable character who acts as a father figure and mentor. The audience is then taken on a journey of these two characters quest for glory which involves some of the following, heartbreak, struggle, sacrifice and belief.
In any sport no matter what it is people will be drawn naturally to the underdog and cheer for them. People don’t like favorites winning unless of course they have the favorite backed! This is where directors create another character one that the audience dislikes, rude, arrogant, cocky etc.. who is at the top of the sport.
These two rivals are finally pitted against each other, in one corner you have a fighter that everyone hates and in the other corner a fighter whom everyone has come to love and admire.
Audiences like happy endings they are brought up with the stories of Snow white, Cinderella etc.. they want to exit the cinema happier than they entered. They want the underdog to win because they know how it feels to be an underdog.
The audience admires a character with pride strength and courage. Great Directors are aware of this knowing what the audience desires and gives it to them.
Boxing movies work because everyone loves a good underdog story!
Top Ten Boxing Movies Countdown
10.Rocky III (1982)
Released in 1982 Rocky III written, directed and starred in by Sylvester Stallone became the third movie of the Rocky Franchise. Boxer Rocky Balboa enjoys the wealth he has as world-champion. He only fights against straightforward opponents. Then he is challenged by the arrogant Clubber Lang. Rocky accepts the challenge to prove once more that there is only one world-champion. But Lang wins and becomes the new champion. Nobody believes in Rocky anymore, except one man: former world-champion Apollo Creed. Creed trains Rocky in an effort to regain his title. Co Stars: Talia Shire as “Adrian Balboa” Burt Young as “Paulie” and Carl Weathers as “Apollo Creed”.
9. Diggstown (1992)
Rolling in at number nine is the film directed by Michael Ritchie, Diggstown starring James Wood (Gabriel Caine) Louis Gossett (Honey) and Bruce Dern (John Gillion). Gabriel Caine has only left prison when he sets up a bet with a wealthy businessman. This businessman owns most of a boxing-mad town called Diggstown. The bet is that “Gabe” can find a boxer that will knock out 10 Diggstown men, in a boxing ring, within 24 hours. “Honey” Roy Palmer is that man – although at 48, many say he is well past it. A sub plot is thrown in about Charles Macum Diggs – the heavyweight champion that gave the town its name – and who is now confined to a wheelchair.
8. City for Conquest (1940)
Anatole Litvak directs this film based on the novel called City of Conquest. Filled with fire and fury starring James Cagney as Danny Kenny (Young Samson) a truck driver who enters “the fight game” and Ann Sheridan as Peggy ‘Peg’ Nash his former girlfriend. Danny’s success in the ring is helping him pay for his brother Eddie’s music education. Danny becomes blinded by acid in a bout, and when efforts to get even fail his former manager finances a newsstand for the now blind and handicapped Danny. Eddie becomes a composer and dedicates a symphony at Carnegie Hall to Danny who listens to it on his radio from his newsstand. Peggy rushes from the concert to reunite with Danny at the newsstand.
7. Raging Bull (1980)
Lucky number seven on our countdown is Raging Bull the two-time Oscar winning movie directed by Martin Scorsese. When Jake LaMotta played by (Robert De Niro) steps into a boxing ring and obliterates his opponent, he’s a prized-fighter. However when he treats his family and friends the same way, he’s a ticking time bomb, ready to go off at any moment. Though LaMotta desires his family’s love, something always seems to come between them. Perhaps it’s his violent bouts of paranoia and jealousy. This kind of rage helped make him a champ, but in real life, he winds up in the ring alone. An emotionally self-destructive boxer’s journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring, destroys his life outside it.
6. Rocky II (1979)
Rocky II the sequel to Rocky was one of the most eagerly anticipated and successful sequels of all time. Directed and starred in by Sylvester Stallone playing (Rocky Balboa) is a little-known boxer who was given a shot at the heavyweight champ, Apollo Creed. Having done much better than anyone expected, Creed demands a rematch, embarrassed by his inability to dominate the “amateur” Balboa. Unfortunately, he soon runs out of money, so he is forced to accept Creed’s offer for a rematch. They called it “The Rematch Of The Century”.
5. Rocky Balboa (2006)
Rocky Balboa the latest in the series of Rocky movies sees Sylvester Stallone return to the big screen as director and Rocky Balboa returning to the Boxing Ring. This hard-hitting, action-packed battle of the age’s story sees Rocky Balboa finding life hard. His wife, Adrian (Shire) has unfortunately died and the relationship between him and his son (Ventimiglia) isn’t perfect. But when a computer simulation pits a in-his-prime Rocky vs. the current undefeated champion Mason Dixon Rocky becomes focused on a return to the ring to let loose the ‘beast’ one final time. Co Stars: Mike Tyson as himself and Burt Young as “Paulie”.
4. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Weighing in at number four with four Oscars to its name is the Clint Eastwood directed movie Million Dollar Baby. Starring heavyweight actors Hillary Swank (Maggie Fitzgerald), Morgan Freeman (Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris) and of course Clint Eastwood (Frankie Dunn). Maggie Fitzgerald, is a poor thirty-one year old waitress from the very lower classes and with a dysfunctional loser family, decides to make a difference through boxing. She convinces the experienced hardened boxing trainer Frankie Dunn to coach her and be her manager. Morgan Freeman plays the role of Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris an old partner of Frankie who sees great potential in Maggie. Frankie had always a conflict relationship with his own daughter and practically adopts Maggie along her career.
3. Hurricane, The (1999)
Down to the Top Three and Norman Jewison’s “The Hurricane” takes its place on our countdown. The true story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter played by Denzel Washington, an African-American man who rose above his troubled youth to become a top contender for the middle-weight boxing title. However, his dreams turn to nightmare when he is accused of a triple murder, and sentenced to three natural-life terms in prison. He writes an Autobiography to prove his innocence becoming more and more discouraged. An African-American boy and his Canadian mentors read his book and are convinced of his innocence enough to work for his exoneration. Proving his innocence is not going to be easy. Co Starring: Vicellous Reon Shannon (Lesra Martin)
2. Cinderella Man (2005)
Making it to the number one contender spot on our countdown is the Ron Howard movie set in the 1930’s Cinderella Man. In the North American Great Depression, the former successful boxer James Braddock played by Russell Crowe loses all his possessions and savings with the crash of the stock market. Mae Braddock his beloved wife played by Renée Zellweger and their three children survive to starvation and lack of heating and the daily difficulties supported by their love. In 1934, when Jim’s coach and manager Joe Gould offers him a chance to return to boxing, he becomes the symbol of hope for hopeless people in a ruined nation.
1. Rocky (1976)
Ladies and Gentlemen the Number One Boxing Movie ever made through unanimous decision is Rocky! Champion of our countdown Oscar winning Rocky directed by John G. Avildsen starring Sylvester Stalone (Rocky), Talia Shire (Adriann), Burt Young (Paulie) Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed) and Burgess Meredith (Mickey) was were “The Italian Stallion” was born. Rocky Balboa, is a aspiring boxer in downtown Philadelphia. His one chance to make a better life for himself is through his boxing and Adrian, a girl who works in the local pet store. Through a publicity stunt, Rocky is set up to fight Apollo Creed, the current heavyweight champion who is already set to win. A magnificent underdog story!