When We Were Kings
This documentary on the 1974 ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ bout between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman won the 1996 Academy Award for Best Documentary. It shows the lead-up to the dramatic fight that was won by Ali via an 8th round KO in a stunning upset, along with interviews with famous writers like Norman Mailer about their recollections of the fight.
A low-budget movie that shot Sylvester Stallone to stardom and spawned numerous sequels, Rocky was the highest grossing film of 1976 and earned three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing. Scenes like Stallone running up the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum to the sounds of the epic “Gonna Fly Now” theme song from the movie have become iconic. Burgess Meredith’s performance as Rocky’s trainer was also memorable.
Based on the autobiography of former world middleweight champion Jake LaMotta (83-19-4), Raging Bull starred Robert De Niro and was shot in black and white in 1980 by director Martin Scorsese. It was praised for its realistic fight scenes and won two Oscars: Best Actor (De Niro) and Best Film Editing.
Actor and boxing fan Mark Wahlberg starred as Micky Ward (38-13) in this 2010 film. Best known today for his epic trilogy of fights with Arturo Gatti (which aren’t featured in the film), Ward was once considered a stepping stone by promoters for other potentially more promising fighters to beat. The Fighter won two Oscars: Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale for his performance as Ward’s half-brother Dicky Eklund) and Best Supporting Actress (Melissa Leo).
Million Dollar Baby
Clint Eastwood directed and starred in this fictional tale about a cranky old trainer who takes a female boxer (played by Hilary Swank) under his wing. It won four Academy Awards in 2004: Best Picture, Best Director (Eastwood), Best Actress (Swank) and Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman).
This 1999 film starred Denzel Washington as former middleweight boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter (28-12), who was convicted of murder in 1966 at the age of 29. He always protested his innocence, inspiring a popular Bob Dylan ‘Hurricane’ song about his plight in 1975. Carter had his conviction overturned in 1985.
Russell Crowe played the role of former world heavyweight champion Jim Braddock (46-24-4) in this 2005 film directed by Ron Howard. It highlighted Braddock’s struggles during the Great Depression, before he emerged to upset heavy favourite Max Baer to win the world title in 1935.
Hands of Stone
This movie chronicles key moments in the life of boxing legend Roberto Duran (103-16), including his harsh early life in Panama and his two famous bouts with American superstar Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980. Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez played the role of Duran.
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