Top Five Film Portrayals Of Boxers

One of the top sports to depict on film is boxing. The story, the way to create a character out of nowhere and the overall drama brings people in. But what about films that are about the real person outside of the lens? Rarely do those in the industry get it just right.

What films stand out to you that help give an idea on who a legendary fighter is? Is there one that stands out more than others?

A top five list of boxers portrayed on film is never easy. The very best are represented on this list.

(Jojo Whilden:Paramount Pictures)

The Fighter

One of the most recent boxing films done right. Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale play the Ward brothers, Micky and Dicky. The film focuses on the addiction issues of Dicky Eklund as well as the promising boxing career of Micky Ward during the 80’s. The film ended up becoming a story of family and the real troubles boxing has been known for up when it comes to fighters.

The psychological aspect of the film brings to light Micky’s want to be the one to talk about while Dicky learns to be a better man to support his brother. It is a true inside look at what is avoided in most viewings of boxers. It packs a powerful punch, literally and figuratively, and it is still waiting for someone to top it.


(Universal Pictures)

Cinderella Man

One of the top feel-good films of the Depression Era. Russell Crowe’s depiction of James J. Braddock, a top fighter who suffered like everyone else in America, was deserving of all the nominations it received.

An injured hand forced Braddock to retire from the sport, but in an attempt to support his family, he made the comeback of a lifetime. Against all odds, Braddock knocked out John “Corn” Griffin and beat both Johny Henry Lewis and Art Lasky. Facing an impossible challenge in Max Baer, Braddock survives in a back and forth boxing affair that is a marvel to watch. Braddock ended up winning the fight and taking home the NBA, NYSAC, The Ring and lineal heavyweight titles.

While he ended up losing to Joe Louis after, Braddock’s rags to riches story was inspiring during a time when it was needed the most.

(Sony Pictures)


This film shares the story of one of the greatest boxers to ever live in Muhammad Ali. At the height of Will Smith’s power in Hollywood, Ali  featured a who’s who of actors/actresses and names that they played. The beginning of Ali’s run to the controversies that surrounded him left fans wanting more.

A fighter who challenged the status quo, the former Cassius Clay refused to be involved in the Vietnam War. The way to capture it and other highlights of his life was something to marvel at. Younger fans of the sport got to see some form of the life Ali lived, even if pieces were left out. One thing is for sure when watching: there is only one Muhammad Ali.

(Universal Pictures)

The Hurricane

While the boxing career of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter is not shown all that much, that is not what the story is about. Denzel Washington plays a man incarcerated for a crime he did not commit in the height of his career. It is a story of freedom and justice, and the struggles that come from it.

The emotions “Hurricane” Carter goes through in the movie may not be all that was captured in real life, but it made the audience understand right away how this was something to remember. While the material may be different, Norma Jewison and Denzel provide the Carter in the film with a sense of morality and need to find the truth. The real Carter didn’t stop, which the film wonderfully shares.

( United Artists)

Raging Bull

A physical and emotional figure in an out of the ring, Jake LaMotta was done to near perfection in Raging Bull. Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese were untouchable in the film that focused on the autobiography of the former middleweight champion. Today, people try to emulate the detailed and beautifully designed aspects of it.

Focusing on his rivalry with “Sugar” Ray Robinson, the film doesn’t forget to show the real-life troubles of LaMotta, who had an abusive history, among other vices. It is something that people always refer to when they think of a classic. LaMotta’s life was an open book, and those who watched the film understood him more than they ever thought they would.

Let’s also never forget about the action that was shown on the screen. It continues to be recognized as a realistic sequence of events that is hard to duplicate.

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