The Top Movies Based on Real-Life Boxers
Since the golden age of Hollywood, there have been countless boxing dramas brought to the screen. Most of the best boxing movies aren’t so much about the sport as they are about overcoming extraordinary odds to achieve greatness.
Films like Rocky mixed a touching human story with the boxing ring. Moviegoers identified with him in the first film and cared about his story, which is why the franchise was so successful.
Unlike trying to make boxing predictions when watching fictional characters, many film fans are already familiar with them and welcome a more in-depth look at their lives. The other method for producing a great boxing movie is telling an extraordinary story from someone’s real life.
Using an actual personality that’s a bigger-than-life character and a narrative that couldn’t be written in Hollywood is a formula for instant success when looking to produce documentary films or dramas based on these personas. Over the years, there have been several great movies based on the lives of actual boxers.
This is the story of middleweight boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter based on his autobiography. Carter experienced racism growing up in New Jersey and turned to box as a way to release his anger against the white man for oppressing him. Carter was a strong contender in the ring and became famous as one of the great fighters of the day despite the racial obstacles he faced.
Carter was arrested one night on suspicion of murdering three men at a local bar in Paterson, NJ, after another man who was himself a suspect named Carter and John Artis as being present when the murders occurred. Both are convicted, with Carter sentenced to three life sentences in prison in a case based more on racism than facts.
The actual story was much more complex than was demonstrated in the movie. Denzel Washington went on to earn an Oscar nomination for best actor in his portrayal of the fighter who had his conviction overturned after 20 years behind bars.
Raging Bull is still considered by many to be the greatest sports movie ever made. It’s the story of Jake LaMotta, who was the son of Italian immigrants raised in the Bronx, NY, who became the world middleweight champion in 1949.
LaMotta’s story tells of his involvement with the Mafia, which even forced him to throw a fight despite him not wanting to defraud any bettor’s boxing picks. The story is also centered around his brother and manager, Joey, and his love interest Vikki, who would eventually become his wife. After losing his title two years later, he then lost his hunger for the sport.
Unfortunately for him, his personal life wasn’t as glorified as his boxing career, and accusations of an affair between his brother and wife ended up with him cutting ties with his friends and Joey. He eventually ends up doing comedy routines at small bars, where he reflects on what could have been. Robert De Niro won his second best actor Oscar award for his portrayal of the troubled ex-boxer.
This 2005 film by director Ron Howard is the story of James J. Braddock, played by Russell Crowe, and his quest to become the world heavyweight champion in 1935. The movie chronicles a difficult time in his life when he loses everything in the stock market crash of 1929 and has to fight while injured to support his family.
Braddock broke his hand in the bout and was later stripped of his license by the boxing commissioner. Eventually, he falls so low that he ends up taking welfare from the government, and his three kids are forced to live with his sister-in-law.
Braddock would eventually recover from his injury and return to boxing after his manager finds him an opportunity. He trained to become an even better fighter than he previously was and had several successful warm-up fights against formidable opponents. Braddock would get a shot at the heavyweight title that would upset boxing predictions tonight, as he won a unanimous decision over Max Baer as a 10-1 underdog.