First of all I would like to start by saying that making this list was extremely difficult. Here’s an idea of how many boxing movies there actually are: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Boxing_films Here are my top 10 most memorable boxing movies.
10.) When We Were Kings (Documentary)
When We Were Kings is a 1996 documentary film about the famous 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight championship where George Foreman failed to retain his title against former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. The film depicts the hype leading up to the fight in Zaire as well as Don King working on his first big promotion.
9.) The Fighter
The Fighter, starring Mark Whalberg, was greeted with rave reviews and won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale) and Best Supporting Actress (Melissa Leo). Whalberg is a welterweight boxer and his older brother, Bale, has been in a slump after being defeated by and up-and-coming Sugar Ray Leanard. Bale serves as Whaleberg’s trainer, but struggles with crime and addiction to crack cocaine.
8.) Cinderella Man
Cinderella Man is titled after the nickname of heavyweight boxing champ James J. Braddock. He lost several times during his career from breaking his hand in the ring and was forced to work on the docks, collecting social assistance to feed his family during the Great Depression. In 1935, he fought heavily favored Max Baer for the Heavyweight title and won. This unlikely victory earned him the nickname “Cinderella Man” by newsman Damon Runyon.
7.) Girl Fight (2000)
Girl Fight follows actress Michelle Rodriguez taking on the challenge of becoming a boxer. As a troubled teen, she channels her aggression into the sweet science despite the skepticism of her father and the resistance of trainers in a male-dominated sport.
6.) The Great White Hype (1996)
The Great White Hype stars Damon Wayans as James “The Grim Reaper” Roper, a dominating fighter promoted by Samuel L. Jackson (Rev. Fred Sultan). The film is a comedy and a play on the 1970 film The Great White Hope. Sultan wants to find Roper a viable white condender to face him in the ring, but finds there aren’t any. Eventually the Reverend realizes that the champ had lost to a white fighter early on in his career. The Reverend finds the white fighter who is now homeless and hypes up the fight to epic proportions.
5.) Snatch (2000)
Although Snatch is not entirely about boxing, it does focus on the sport throughout the film. A good portion of the film follows a promoter for an unlicensed, no-gloves boxing league. The film’s bare-kcuckle boxing was the source for some of the film’s best scenes.
4.) The Hurricane (1999)
Similar to Cinderella Man, The Hurricane is a biographical boxing film that follows the hardships of a boxer inside and outside the ring. It’s a breathtaking story about a shorter than average (5’8″) middleweight boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and how he was falsy convicted of a triple homicide. The story also spawned the popular protest song by Bob Dylan titled “Hurricane.”
3.) Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Million Dollar Baby was directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Morgan Freeman as an underappreciated boxing trainer who decides to help out an amauter female fighter (Hilary Swank). She wants to achieve her dream of being a boxer and relentlessly nags Freeman for his help despite his resistance. The film dominated the 77th Academy Awards, walking away with Best Picture as well as Best Director, Actress, and Supporting Actor.
2.) Raging Bull
Raging Bull is one of the best performances in Robert De Niro’s legendary career, depicting him as aging middleweight boxing champion Jake Lamotta. The film is based on Lamotta’s memoirs Raging Bull: My Story. The film was nominated for 8 Academy Awards and won Dinero an Oscar for Best Actor.
1.) Rocky (II, III, IV, V)
Rocky was the highest-grossing film in 1976, making $225 million worldwide on a $1 million budget. The film was shot in only 28 days, but won 3 Oscars including Best Picture. It is the rags to riches story of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) who is a loan shark by day and boxer by night. Although this film is not considered non-fiction, former heavyweight boxer Charles “Chuck” Wepner claims that this and all the proceeding Rocky films where based on his life.