8 of the best boxing movies of all time

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8 movies that involve boxing that every combat sports fan should see.

The sport of boxing and the film medium has long held a connection for over a century. Ever since the 1910s and beyond, with short comedies starring Charlie Chaplin, such as The Knockout, The Champion, and most famously, City Lights, boxing has been a significant part of film history.

Since the sport of boxing and film were both in their infancy at the same time in the late 1800s, some of the first movie stars were pugilists. Fights with boxers like Jim Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons were promoted as events to see the world’s first boxing picture. In that respect, the fights themselves were the movies.

Boxing and film have more in common than meets the eye. Like a movie, the sweet science encompasses ebbs and flows with changes of pace. Simply put, boxing matches tell stories. What makes a great boxing movie isn’t necessarily the depiction of what happens inside the squared circle. Instead, it’s about the characters we see stepping through the ropes.

The gladiators are alone in the ring, but before they step into the ring, there are a group of people that impact the fears and joy the fighter experiences. The characters behind the scenes that put the fights together from promoters, managers, and family members are all integral and add to the fascination.

Can we relate to them? Can we see a part of ourselves inside of them? The drama that occurs outside of the ring is just as vital as what happens inside.

“The idea that boxing lends itself to cinema so well is because it’s usually a morality play - good against evil, insecurity, and triumph, fear strikes out, so the audience can really get drawn into the drama of it,” said filmmaker, actor, and boxing Hall-of-Famer Sylvester Stallone to Rotten Tomatoes-UK in 2007. “Also, it was sensual and very primal. I think subliminally; we do two things - life is a fight, life is a struggle, and we understand from our early, early, early ancestors and life is a race.”

Today, the sports movie isn’t as prevalent as it used to be. It’s become more seldom for a film about sports to be huge at the box office and hit a mainstream audience. Boxing, maybe more than any other sport, has lent itself to cinema the most.

The controversial history of boxing includes ties to organized crime, governmental congressional hearings, and deaths. And with boxing being an international sport, there are a plethora of stories to be told.

FansidedMMA will examine eight of the best stories involving the sweet science that hit the cinema. Like all forms of art, this list is subjective, and there are some films that could have easily made the cut. Another eight films could have been chosen.