One of the most strangely satisfying parts of cinema is when filmmakers attempt to cover a sports-related story, whether fictional or non-fictional.
Almost everyone can relate to sports and boxing has been the most relatable of all combat sports because of its general simplicity, acceptability, and entertainment value when compared to the likes of mixed martial arts, Muay Thai, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
For this reason, we’ve seen many boxing films come and go. Some of these films have had a lasting impression that remains to this day, however – whether that be by inspiring someone to begin their martial arts journey or simply giving them the simple belief that they can achieve anything they put their mind to.
Today, Evolve Daily brings you the “10 Best Boxing Films Of All Time”.
10) Fat City
“Fat City” was a spectacular adaptation of an earlier novel that resulted in a fascinating watch for all audiences.
There’s no glory in “Fat City”, and rather we see quite the opposite. The story features a boxer named Tully who is well past his prime and a young fighter named Ernie who is on the way up. They each battle with their problems inside and outside the ring, but it’s Tully who seems to be experiencing the worst of the two.
Muhammad Ali captured the attention of the masses when he was boxing in his prime. However, the movie “Ali” never quite took off in the same way. Despite the incredible effort and meticulous planning to get everything right regarding one of the greatest boxers of all-time, critics did not rate the movie highly.
Regardless, Will Smith’s efforts as Ali are memorable, and he does an excellent job of portraying the sporting great.
8) When We Were Kings
Although it’s more of a documentary than a movie, “When We Were Kings” deserves praise on our list of best boxing movies of all time.
The documentary follows the greatest to have ever done it, Muhammad Ali, as he gets set to compete in the “Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974 with George Foreman.
Ali was much more than just an athlete. He was a pioneer for change in the world. He was an activist and one of the most influential people to have ever competed in combat sports.
We can only thank “When We Were Kings” for this incredible insight into Muhammad Ali.
7) The Boxer
“The Boxer” received rightful praise from Joe Rogan as being one of the best boxing movies of all time.
In the movie, Danny Flynn attempts to rebuild his life after 14 years in prison. He takes up boxing again and opens his boxing gym despite conflict with different groups of people in the area.
“The Boxer” exemplifies that sometimes the boxing ring was the perfect place for some people to channel their emotions.
6) Rocky IV
“Rocky IV” might not be a ‘good movie’ by any means, but it is a personal favorite of many boxing fans around the world.
In the fourth edition of the Rocky franchise, Balboa has retired and settled down with his wife, Adrian. That plan fails, though, as his friend Apollo Creed jumps into the ring in an exhibition match with rising Russian giant Ivan Drago. After a classic Creed entrance to Livin’ In America, the former Heavyweight World Champion is badly beaten inside the ring by a merciless Drago who later declares “If he dies, he dies.”
Rocky is left with no choice but to come back and avenge the death of his friend in a 15 round battle in Russia on Christmas Day.
5) Cinderella Man
“Cinderella Man” is an inspiring depiction of how James J. Braddock returns from retirement to make an unsuspecting championship run.
Braddock had been retired for a couple of years when his old manager comes to him with an offer to step in on late-notice to challenge the #2 contender in the world.
Braddock accepts the fight and somehow manages a miraculous victory. However, it is just the beginning of a remarkable streak of fights for Braddock. After some time, he works his way to a championship bout with the ruthless Max Baer.
James J. Braddock became known as the Cinderella Man because of his remarkable comeback.
4) The Fighter
“The Fighter” is the best boxing movie of the last decade.
The movie depicts “Irish” Micky Ward’s journey as he climbs the ranks and gets a shot at the world championship in London. A major part of the story, though, is the relationship between Ward and his problematic brother Dick Eklund.
Christian Bale plays Dick Eklund and is one of the best parts of this film for many reasons, but it’s the true story of Ward that shines through in this one.
Drawing comparisons to the fictional Rocky Balboa, Ward’s struggles make for an emotional rollercoaster throughout “The Fighter”.
3) Million Dollar Baby
“Million Dollar Baby” was an instant classic.
Clint Eastwood features as a fragile trainer named Frankie Dunn who owns an aging boxing gym in Los Angeles. His life changes dramatically when he crosses paths with an incredibly determined female who wants to begin boxing. Maggie Fitzgerald continually asks Frankie to train her, and after some time he agrees.
The two eventually begin working closely together, and she starts a successful boxing career that results in an opportunity at the WBA title.
But as great as the first two-thirds of this movie are, it’s the ending that really pushes this movie to greater limits.
2) Raging Bull
“Raging Bull” is a Martin Scorsese masterpiece.
The movie details the ups-and-downs of fearless boxer Jake “The Bronx Bull” LaMotta. LaMotta is played by the then-meticulous Robert De Niro, who put on 60 pounds to portray LaMotta.
Scorsese perfectly reproduces the LaMotta that people knew inside and outside of the boxing ring. Inside the ring, he’s a physical wrecking ball. Outside of the ring, he’s an emotional wrecking ball.
Raging Bull details the experience of LaMotta as he earns a shot at the middleweight title, but it also focuses on much more than boxing.
“Rocky” is undoubtedly the most famous boxing movie of all time – but it’s arguably also the best one as well.
Written and played by Sylvester Stallone, a local struggling boxer named Rocky Balboa is gifted with a tremendous opportunity to challenge Apollo Creed, the Heavyweight Champion of the World. With seemingly no one giving Balboa a chance against Creed, he trains intensely with the objective of lasting the full 15 rounds with the champion – a feat that no one else has achieved.
The movie ends in a strangely glorious way, and you can’t help but become emotional as Rocky and his partner Adrian announce to each other “I love you.”
Rocky’s captivating scenes can make even the laziest of people motivated enough to drink five raw eggs and run a couple of kilometers as they pump their hands in the air to the sound of the memorable soundtrack.
The Rocky movie inspired people from all over the world, and you can now find a statue of Rocky Balboa with his raised arms near the “Rocky Steps” in Philadelphia.