The sport of boxing is rich with stories and has produced some epic films. This list will be updated regularly so you can always see what’s new to watch or revisit your favorite movies.
The “best boxing movies of all time” is a list that includes 14 movies. The list is broken down into specific categories and has brief descriptions for each movie.
We are unapologetic enthusiasts of the sweet science here at AoM. Because of its history and attitude, it is a strong candidate for the title of manliest sport. Because boxing has always evolved beyond the bounds of the ring, becoming something greater, something that approaches the essence of manliness. Boxing has reflected the battle of every man who has ever gone toe to toe with an opponent, whether flesh or spirit, from its inception in ancient times. Boxing may be seen as a metaphor for every battle a man has in his life, those times when grit, drive, and heart are all that remain when life is down to its basic essentials: grit, determination, and heart.
The link between boxing and life is also one of the reasons why the boxing movie is so good. Whether you’ve ever been to a boxing gym or not, the themes of human victory, failure, and tenacity are universal. We identify with the characters because, at some point in our lives, we’ve all been the plucky underdog pressed against the ropes. And we all want to think that we can come back and win the championship.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of the top boxing films produced by Hollywood during the last 70 years. Are you ready to go toe-to-toe? Come out swinging after bumping gloves. Let’s get this party started.
There’s no way we could build a list of the finest boxing movies without starting with the classic Rocky franchise. There are several barroom disputes now over which Rocky is the finest. Some people choose number two since Rocky defeated Apollo Creed. Others argue that number three is the finest since Mr. T is in it. While each Rocky film has its own unique appeal, I believe the first is the finest. It contains everything a good boxing film should have: an underdog facing impossible odds, a woman to fight for, and a savage trainer who offers inspiration and encouragement. If you’re ever in a bad mood, listen to Rocky. By the time the credits begin to roll, you’ll be tremendously inspired.
The film’s plot resembles that of its protagonist; it was sold out when it first came out, but as time has passed, it has gained more and more admirers. And rightfully so. It’s a very inspirational tale, and it’s 100% genuine. James Braddock battled to live and care for his family during the Great Depression after an injury forced him to fall from the top of the boxing world. He receives a second opportunity to fight just as he’s about to give up. Everyone thought he’d be a simple opponent, but a desperate and hungry guy may be deadly. He wins the bout and continues to win, allowing him to compete for the heavyweight title. Braddock’s genuine tale is more than just about boxing; his ascent, collapse, and desire of atonement echoed the dreams of the whole country.
The Ricky Schroder and Jon Voight version of this picture, released in 1979, is undoubtedly the most well-known. While it’s entertaining and will make even the toughest man cry at the end, most people are unaware that it’s a remake of a 1931 Oscar-winning picture. The original Champ, starring Wallace Berry, follows Andy “Champ” Purcell, a down-on-his-luck ex-heavyweight champion, and his adoring adolescent son, Dink. Heavy drinking and gambling put a stop to the Champ’s boxing career, and he and his son found themselves living in terrible surroundings in Tijuana, Mexico. Dink’s now-wealthy mother notices her son’s lifestyle and chooses to take custody of him. When The Champ realizes he’s going to lose his kid, he gets his act together and begins his return, so he can give his son the life he deserves.
Both the body and the soul
This 1947 classic tells the story of a destitute child who utilizes boxing to get out of his situation. Charlie Davis lives in Lower East Manhattan’s impoverished and dangerous area. Charlie goes to boxing to aid him and his widowed mother after his father is murdered in a criminal turf fight. Charlie quickly finds himself immersed in a world of corruption and dirty dealings, but the money keeps coming in, so Charlie accepts it. Charlie must choose between wealth and redemption from his corrupt existence when his backstabbing promoter orders him to throw a championship match. Body and Soul contains some of the finest battle sequences in cinematic history, in addition to a wonderful tale. It revolutionized the way boxing films were choreographed.
We Used to Be Kings
When We Were Kings is regarded as one of the finest boxing documentaries ever created, and it tells the narrative of one of the most renowned fights in boxing history: Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman’s Rumble in the Jungle. The fight’s backstory is legendary. Ali is 32 years old and often regarded as beyond his peak. Foreman, who is 10 years younger, is the world heavyweight champion. Don King, a boxing promoter, promises the two fighters $5 million each to fight each other. Of course, King lacks the funds, so he enlists the help of Mobutu Sese Seko, the ruler of Zaire. Ali is the underdog in the battle, and even his own camp doubts his ability to win. Ali, on the other hand, triumphs thanks to his unwavering confidence and perseverance.
Bull in a Fury
Raging Bull, based on the memoirs of middleweight boxing champion Jack LaMotta, is a brutal representation of a violent sport and the consequences it can have on a man. Robert DeNiro provides a visceral portrayal of a man consumed by rage, sexual jealousy, and outright violence. Martin Scorsese directed a picture that is so violent and unsettling that it leaves you feeling numb at the conclusion. However, it makes you think about the old Platonic concept that a man’s sexual urge and fury must be balanced with age and intelligence, or else he would be pushed to disaster.
This is the movie that launched Kirk Douglas’ career. Douglas portrays a cruel and amoral fighter who was born into poverty and is willing to go to any length to get fame and money. While his confidence and charm garner a devoted following, his ingratitude disillusions those who support him. His callousness extends to his bride, whom he betrays immediately after the ceremony is finished. I won’t give away the finale, but let’s just say Kirk Douglas doesn’t fare well. Is there a lesson here? Don’t act like a jerk.
Fat City isn’t your traditional three-act drama with a beginning, middle, and conclusion. If you want your movies to be constructed in this manner, you will most likely dislike this one. Instead, filmmaker John Houston (The Maltese Falcon, The Man Who Would Be King) just depicts the sad, difficult, and meaningless lives of two boxers at various stages of their careers. Jeff Bridges portrays a young up-and-comer who has some natural skill but is unlikely to advance in his profession. Stacy Keach portrays an aged former champion who is nearing the end of his career. He’s a strong drinker who lives in a run-down hotel. Keach’s character is motivated to fight one more battle after a chance meeting with the young up and comer. Again, there isn’t a happy conclusion to this film, but it does make you think about the kind of life you’re leading.
Are you a fan of film noir and boxing? If that’s the case, The Set-Up is for you. The Set-Up, like other film noir films, presents a dark and pessimistic outlook on life. The film follows Stoker Thompson, a retired boxer whose career has come to a halt. He loses every battle he fights, and he has little chance of ever winning again. Thompson’s rage drives him to kick ass one more time when his manager betrays him by accepting money to stage a fight. I won’t give anything away about the ending, but let’s just say it’s bittersweet.
Gentleman Jim, starring Errol Flynn (the manliest mustache of all time), is based on the life of heavyweight boxing champion James J. Corbett. Corbett’s professional life spanned the years 1886 through 1903. Boxing was outlawed in many places at the time, and it desperately needed to reform in order to exist. Many people credit Corbett for bringing boxing into the twentieth century and establishing it as a genuine sport rather than a back alley show. Corbett pioneered a more scientific method to boxing, emphasizing delicacy over the brawling manner of previous fisticuffers. By supporting contests under the Marquess of Queensberry regulations and by being a classy, refined gentleman, he also helped enhance the image of boxing. As a result, he earned the moniker “Gentleman Jim.” His greatest claim to fame, however, is that he was the only person to beat John L. Sullivan. This film will teach you all you need to know about it.
Baby worth a million dollars
While euthanasia is a major theme in Million Dollar Baby, it is also a touching narrative about human relationships in all their terrible and wonderful forms. Frankie Dunn, played by Clint Eastwood, is a gruff, guilt-ridden combat trainer. Dunn becomes wary when a previous fighter (Morgan Freeman) loses his sight in a bout, and he keeps his boxers back to prevent them from being wounded. He’s also alienated from his daughter, whom he writes to once a week in the hopes of receiving a response. Dunn’s world, however, is turned upside down when Maggie Fitzgerald comes into his gym and asks him to coach her. Dunn first refuses, but in the face of Maggie’s insistence, he eventually relents. Maggie is having problems at home as well. Dunn and Fitzgerald quickly develop a nice father-daughter connection. Maggie encourages Frankie to come out of his shell, while Frankie provides Maggie with the emotional support she lacks from her family.
I’ve disliked Hilary Swank since she damaged the Karate Kid franchise, but Eastwood’s manliness can hide a lot of crimes.
Someone in the sky likes me.
Somebody Up There Likes Me, based on the tumultuous life of middleweight boxing superstar Rocky Graziano, was one of Paul Newman’s first leading performances. Graziano leads a life of wild abandon and criminality as a teenager. He becomes a member of a street gang and eventually finds himself in jail. Graziano is inducted into the army after serving his sentence. Graziano goes AWOL because he doesn’t like the discipline and control of military life, so he ends up boxing to make ends meet. He realizes he has a natural knack for the sport and turns it into a profession. However, the allure of money tempts Graziano to take part in a series of pre-arranged battles. Graziano, on the other hand, acquires a conscience and some self-respect owing to his love. He moves on from the realm of thrown bouts and becomes a legitimate boxer.
In addition, this picture marked the directorial debut of badass Steve McQueen.
The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson: Unforgivable Blackness
Boxing in three terms. Ken. Burns is a fictional character. That’s basically all you need to know, since everything Mr. Burns produces is unquestionably fantastic (except for Jazz, of course). Burns covers the life of one of sports’ most fascinating individuals, Jack Johnson, in his trademark flair. Boxing is only the stage on which the dynamics of racial relations in the early twentieth century may be investigated in this documentary. Johnson defied discriminatory obstacles and social customs of the day, rebelling not as a civil rights warrior, but as a guy who just wanted to live his life his own. He was a complex character, a man of skill and arrogance who could be proud to be a black boxer while also denying other African-American boxers the opportunity to reach comparable renown and success. During this almost four-hour biography, Burns masterfully addresses these and other themes.
The More They Fall, the Harder They Fall
Humphrey Bogart’s last cinematic appearance was in The Harder They Fall. Bogart portrays Eddie Willis, an out-of-work newspaper writer who accepts a job as a publicity agent advertising staged bouts for a boxer with little ability for the sport. The fighter, on the other hand, is unaware that the battles are staged and believes he is defeating his opponents. When this foolish child is pitted against the reigning champ, who pledges to pound him to death, Willis must choose between telling the kid about the fix and saving him and keeping his mouth shut and making a fortune.
Listen to our podcast on the legendary American heavyweight’s rise and fall:
The “kick boxing movies” is a list of the 14 best boxing movies. The list includes films like Rocky, Raging Bull, and Fight Club.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most realistic boxing movie?
A: The most realistic and accurate movie about boxing would be The Fighter due to the fact that it was filmed almost entirely in a gym, with no filming location changing.
Whats that one boxing movie?
Which movie is based on sport boxing?
A: The movie Rocky is based on the sport boxing.
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