14 Best Boxing Movies

by Brett & Kate McKay on February 10, 2010 · 92 comments

in Health & Sports

We here at AoM are unabashed fans of the sweet science. Its history and ethos make it a strong contender for being the manliest of sports. For boxing has always transcended the mere confines of the ring, becoming something more, something that approaches the heart of manliness itself. Since its introduction in ancient times, boxing has mirrored the struggle of every man who has ever gone toe to toe with an opponent, be it of flesh or the spirit. Boxing can be seen as a metaphor for every fight in a man’s life, those moments where it doesn’t come down to equipment or trick plays, but all that’s left when life is stripped down to the bare essentials: grit, determination, and heart.

The parallel between boxing and life is also what makes the boxing movie such great cinema. Whether or not you’ve ever stepped into a boxing gym, the themes of human triumph, defeat, and perseverance inevitably resonate. We connect to the characters because we’ve all been the scrappy underdog pinned against the ropes at one time or another. And we all want to believe we can make a comeback and become the champ.

Below we went through 70 years of film history and selected the best boxing movies Hollywood has put out. Are you ready to rumble? Bump gloves and come out swinging. Let’s get started.


No way we could make a list of the best boxing movies without kicking it off with the quintessential Rocky series. Now there are plenty of barroom debates on which Rocky is the best. Some guys go with number 2 because Rocky actually beats Apollo Creed. Others claim number 3 is the best simply because Mr. T is in it. While each Rocky movie has its own charm, I still think the first is the best. It has everything a good boxing movie needs: an underdog facing insurmountable odds, a lady to fight for, and a pugnacious trainer who provides motivation and encouragement. If you’re ever feeling like crap, pop in Rocky. You’ll feel truly inspired by the time the credits start rolling.

Cinderella Man

The story of the film itself parallels the story of its protagonist; counted out when it hit the theaters, the movie has gathered more and more fans as time has gone by. And with good reason. It’s an incredibly inspiring story, and it’s absolutely true. After an injury caused James Braddock to plummet from the top of the boxing world, he struggled to survive and provide for his family during the Great Depression. At nearly the breaking point, he gets a chance to fight again. Everyone expected him to be an easy opponent, but a desperate and hungry man can be extremely dangerous. He wins the fight and continues to win, leading him to fight in the heavyweight championship. Braddock’s true story is about more than boxing; his rise, fall, and dream of redemption mirrored the whole nation’s hopes.

The Champ

Most people have probably seen the Ricky Schroder and Jon Voight version of this film made in 1979. While it’s good and will make the most hardened man tear up at the end, most people don’t know that it was a remake of an Oscar winning 1931 film. The original Champ, starring Wallace Berry, follows a down on his luck ex-heavyweight champion, Andy “Champ” Purcell, and his relationship with his loving teenage son, Dink. Heavy drinking and gambling ended the Champ’s boxing career and as a result he and his son end up living in Tijuana, Mexico in squalid conditions. Dink’s now wealthy mother sees the kind of life her son is living and decides to take custody of him. Seeing that he’s about to lose his boy, The Champ gets his act together and starts his comeback, so he can provide the life his son deserves.

Body and Soul

This 1947 classic is about a poor kid who uses boxing as his ticket out of poverty. Charlie Davis lives in the poor and violent neighborhood of Lower East Manhattan. After his dad is killed in a gangster turfwar, Charlie turns to boxing to help him and his widowed mother. Charlie is soon submerged in a world of corruption and shady deals, but the money pours in so Charlie rolls with it. When his backstabbing promoter tells Charlie to throw a championship bout, Charlie must decide between fortune and redemption from his corrupt life. In addition to the great story, Body and Soul has some of the best fight scenes in cinematic history. It literally changed the way boxing movies were choreographed.

When We Were Kings

Regarded as one of the best boxing documentaries ever made, When We Were Kings follows the story of one of the most famous bouts in boxing history: The Rumble in the Jungle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. The story behind the fight is epic. Ali’s 32 years old and thought to be past his prime. Foreman is ten years younger and the reigning heavyweight champion of the world. Fight promoter Don King offers the two boxers $5 million a piece to fight each other. Of course, King doesn’t have the cash, so he finds a financial backer in Mobutu Sese Seko, the dictator of Zaire. Ali’s the underdog in the fight, even his own team doesn’t believe he can win. But with his unfaltering confidence and tenacity, Ali comes out on top.

Raging Bull

Based on the autobiography of middleweight boxing champ Jack LaMotta, Raging Bull pulls no punches in its portrayal of a violent sport and the detrimental effects it can have on a man. Robert DeNiro gives a raw performance of a man who’s filled with anger, sexual jealousy, and pure violence. Director Martin Scorsese created a film that’s so violent and disturbing, it sort of leaves you numb at the end. But it causes you to think and reflect upon the ancient Platonic idea that sexual appetite and anger must be tempered with maturity and wisdom or else a man will be driven to ruin.


This is the film that made Kirk Douglas a star. Douglas plays a ruthless and amoral  boxer who was born in poverty and will stop at nothing for fame and fortune. While his confidence and charisma attract a loyal following, he disillusions those who support him with his ingratitude. His callousness doesn’t even stop with his wife whom he betrays as soon as the wedding is over. I won’t tell you the ending, but let’s just say it doesn’t turn out well for Kirk Douglas. Lesson learned? Don’t be a jackass.

Fat City

Fat City isn’t your typical film with a beginning, middle, and end. If you like your movies structured like that, then you probably won’t like this film. Instead, director John Houston (The Maltese Falcon, The Man Who Would Be King) just shows the sad, hard, and empty life of two boxers at different points in their career. Jeff Bridges plays a young up-starter who has some natural talent, but probably won’t go anywhere with his career. Stacy Keach plays an aging former champ whose career is winding down. He drinks hard and lives in a crappy motel. A chance encounter with the young up and comer motivates Keach’s character to fight one more bout. Again, there really isn’t a happy ending with this movie, but it definitely makes you reflect about what sort of life you’re living.

The Set-Up

Fans of film-noir and boxing? Then The Set-Up is for you. Like most film noir flicks, The Set-Up has a dark and cynical view of the world. The film follows an over-the-hill boxer named Stoker Thompson whose career is at a dead-end. He loses every match he fights and there’s no prospect for him to start winning again. But when his manager betrays him by taking money to throw a fight, Thompson’s anger pushes him to kick ass one more time. I won’t ruin the end, but let’s just say it’s bittersweet.

Gentleman Jim

Starring Errol Flynn (owner of one of the manliest mustaches of all time), Gentleman Jim is based on the life of heavyweight boxing champ, James J. Corbett. Corbett’s career lasted from 1886 to 1903. It was a time when boxing was illegal in many states and in serious need of change in order to survive. Many credit Corbett for bringing boxing into the 20th century and making it a legitimate sport and not some back alley spectacle.  Corbett introduced a more scientific style of boxing that emphasized finesse over the brawling approach of earlier fisticuffers. He also helped improve the image of boxing by encouraging fights under the Marquess of Queensberry rules and by being a classy, classy gentleman. Hence his nickname “Gentleman Jim.” But perhaps his biggest claim to fame is being the only man to defeat John L. Sullivan. Learn all about it by watching this movie.

Million Dollar Baby

While the issue of euthanasia takes a front seat in Million Dollar Baby, lurking underneath is a poignant story about human relationships in all their ugly and beautiful glory. Clint Eastwood plays a gruff, guilt-laden fight trainer named Frankie Dunn. After a former fighter (played by Morgan Freeman) loses his sight in a match, Dunn becomes guarded and holds his fighters back in order to prevent them from getting hurt. On top of that, he’s estranged from his daughter and writes her every week in hopes that she’ll write back. But Dunn’s life changes when Maggie Fitzgerald walks through his gym door asking him to train her. Dunn balks at first but soon relents in face of Maggie’s tenacity. Maggie’s got troubles at home, too. A sweet father-daughter like relationship soon forms between Dunn and Fitzgerald. Maggie helps Frankie come out of his shell, and Frankie gives Maggie the emotional support that her family doesn’t give.

I haven’t been a fan of Hilary Swank since she ruined the Karate Kid series, but Eastwood’s manliness can cover a multitude of sins.

Somebody Up There Likes Me

Based on the troubled life of middleweight boxing legend Rocky Graziano, Somebody Up There Likes Me was one of Paul Newman’s first starring roles. As a youth, Graziano lives a life of reckless abandon and crime. He joins a street gang and ends up in prison.  After he does his time, Graziano gets drafted into the army. Of course he doesn’t take well to the structure and authority of military life, so Graziano goes AWOL only to end up boxing to make money for food. He discovers he’s got a natural talent for the sport and makes a career out of it. But the siren call of money leads Graziano to participate in a series of fixed fights. But thanks to his sweetheart, Graziano develops a conscience and some self-respect. He leaves behind the world of thrown fights and makes it as a legit boxer.

Trivia: This film was also the pictorial debut of bad-ass Steve McQueen.

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

Three words: Boxing. Ken. Burns. That’s really all you need to know since everything Mr. Burns does it certifiably awesome (well, Jazz wasn’t that hot). Burns uses his signature style to cover the life of one of the most interesting characters in sports history: Jack Johnson. Boxing is really just the backdrop in this documentary, the stage on which the dynamics of race relations in the early 20th century can be explored. Johnson pushed through bigoted barriers and flaunted social conventions of the day, rebelling not as a civil rights activist, but as a man who simply wanted to live exactly how he pleased. He was a complicated guy, a man of both talent and bravado who could be proud to be a black boxer while also denying fellow African-American fighters the chance for similar fame and achievement. Burns deftly explores these issues and more during this almost four hour biography.

The Harder They Fall

The Harder They Fall was Humphrey Bogart’s final screen appearance. Bogart plays an out-of-work newspaper reporter named Eddie Willis who takes a job as a press agent promoting fixed fights for a boxer that has no talent for the sport whatsoever. However, the fighter doesn’t know that the fights are fixed and he genuinely thinks he’s beating his opponents. When this naive kids goes against the reigning champ, who promises to pummel him to death, Willis must make the decision whether to tell the kid about the fix and save him or keep his mouth shut and make a boat load of money.

What other boxing films do you think belong on this list? What was your favorite Rocky? I’m personally still waiting for a great film about the age of fisticuffing. Are you listening Hollywood? Instead of Spiderman 10, make John L Sullivan I.

{ 92 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joseph February 10, 2010 at 1:37 am

Snatch was a great movie with bare knuckle boxing!

2 Zooks February 10, 2010 at 1:40 am

Midnight Sting (aka Diggstown)!

3 Wes February 10, 2010 at 1:59 am

Requiem for a Heavyweight is another I would recommend, starring the always excellent Anthony Quinn.

4 Justin February 10, 2010 at 2:09 am

Great for including “When We Were Kings,” but you forgot “The Hammer.”

5 Eugene Dammrod February 10, 2010 at 2:43 am

It’s not gloved boxing, but “Hard Times” directed by Walter Hill is a great movie about Depression Era underground bareknuckle boxing. It stars Charles Bronson, who is the definition of Manliness, and it has a great message that is relevant for our times: when life gets hard just keep on living.

“The Boxer” starring Daniel Day-Lewis is also excellent, and the documentary “Muhammad and Larry” which was shown on ESPN could be seen as a spiritual sequel to “When We Were Kings”.

6 Steven Rushing February 10, 2010 at 2:45 am

Shame on you and the above 5 commentors who forgot Diggstown. =)

7 Wes February 10, 2010 at 2:48 am

Oh, I forgot- finally released on DVD released check out Facing Ali.

8 Tyler Logan February 10, 2010 at 3:39 am

Nothing beats Rocky in my opinion. Motivation it gives you is awesome.

9 Patrick February 10, 2010 at 4:42 am

Awesome article! I definitely have to check some of these as I haven’t watched them yet. My favourite Rocky movie happens to be the fourth one, because of the nostalgia factor, the best training montage of all the Rocky movies, the soundtrack and because of phenomenal Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago (“I must break you”).

However, I recently watched “Cinderella Man” and I can wholeheartedly say (after thinking this over) that it’s the best movie I have ever seen – about boxing, or otherwise. Actually, I ordered a copy of the book by Jeremy Schaap and it arrived today! It’s the real life stories like these that provide the most motivation for me.

10 Autobraz February 10, 2010 at 5:58 am

The Hammer

11 Jim February 10, 2010 at 6:47 am

As a former boxer and alltime manly man, I must say that I wish we could get honorable mention for Diggstown. James Wood, Louis Gossett Jr., and a strong supporting cast, great movie with all of the grifting that goes on in the inner circles of boxing. Not only being a former boxer but also being from Philly, naturally, it’s great to see number one!

12 sean February 10, 2010 at 7:14 am

There was another documentary which i believe was called “The Fight”. It was about the Louis-Schmelling fights. That one was superb.

13 Baconbits February 10, 2010 at 7:44 am

Check out the performance of James Earl Jones in The Great White Hope.

14 ACJohn February 10, 2010 at 7:49 am

This one gets over looked as a “Boxing Movie” Hands down one of my top 10 movies of all times. The Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara!

15 Mark Beatty February 10, 2010 at 7:52 am

I don’t know what suprised me more: that “The Hurricane” wasn’t on the initial list or that I, as the 14th commenter, was the first to point this out.

I suppose a case could be made that the focus of the movie was more on Carter’s wrongful imprisonment, but it’s about a boxer and boxing is all through it. It’s also, IMHO, right up there with “Rocky” and “Cinderella Man” in the inspiration department.

That said, it’s a very good list. I don’t disagree with any of the films on it being there and wrote down a half-dozen that I’ll have to go rent now ;-).

16 Dan February 10, 2010 at 8:32 am

Rocky is definitely the best boxing movie. I’m not sure which Rocky is the best though…. Maybe Rocky 4.

Anyway, thanks for the list. I haven’t seen or even heard of many of the older films here but now I want to see them. Do you have any recommendations about where to find some of these older films?

A note about Million Dollar Baby… I always thought that was the worst boxing movie ever. Besides the fact that it isn’t a boxing movie–it’s a euthanasia movie that wears boxing gloves–the fact that the boxer is a woman irks me. It always bothered me to watch women fight–I feel like men are supposed to do that so that women don’t have to. But maybe that’s just me. What do you think?

17 Joe DeGiorgio February 10, 2010 at 8:48 am

“Rocky” is without question the greatest boxing movie of all time. Inspired this once overweight guy (in my teen years) to get into shape and stay that way. I feel that “Raging Bull” should be #2, an incredible movie. Kudos also for the inclusion of “Somebody Up There Likes Me”, an older classic about the other “Rocky”.

Great list!

18 John February 10, 2010 at 8:50 am

Favorite Rocky is a tie between 1 and 2, when she says, win, that is a near tear jerker. But I gotta add Gladiator to this (James Marshall and Cuba Gooding Jr., not Russel Crowe). Great movie about underground boxing and what someone will do when poor with someone holding money over you.

19 Steve-O February 10, 2010 at 9:51 am

This is nowhere near the quality of these titles, but Undisputed was an ‘ok’ boxing movie. I like Wesley Snipes and Ving Rhames, so yeah… Oh, and also that documentary Tyson. Really very interesting.

Most of those other movies that were listed were pretty good though. Favorite Rocky movie is a between 1 and 4.

20 Jeremy February 10, 2010 at 10:57 am

Though it’s not totally about boxing.. Clint Eastwoods 1978 classic Every Which Way But Loose does have some decent barenuckle boxing scenes… ohh.. and a sweet ape named “clyde”

21 Nate February 10, 2010 at 11:28 am

The Hammer!

22 Playstead February 10, 2010 at 11:29 am

Yes, you guy missed the Tyson doc, which was fascinating — especially to those of us who watched his every move through the 80s and 90s. Also loved Street of Gold with Wesley Snipes — and The Hurricane should have been on there. Killer topic though.

23 Michael February 10, 2010 at 11:39 am

Meh. Sorry guys. I think boxing ranks right up there with watching paint dry and measuring the growth rate of spores, molds and fungus.

24 amar February 10, 2010 at 12:01 pm

I think the Tyson biography should be included. not sure if many of you seen it but it came out last year and it’s a compelling story, inside the head of one of the more interesting characters in all of sports.

great list, thanks. haven’t seen some of the classics, need to catch up.

25 Nick February 10, 2010 at 12:07 pm

You dissed the Ken Burns Jazz series? Realize, a lot of old school guys are jazzers, and the Ken Burns series really had a lot of good stuff in it. You can think manly without Sinatra or Hef (who still has a major jazz festival), or even Miles.

26 Gevin Shaw February 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm

“He’s the toughest guy I ever fought” -Ali

The Last Round – Chuvalo vs. Ali looks at the events surrounding the 1966 Maple Leaf Gardens bout between Ali and George Chuvalo, the Canadian heavyweight boxer who was never knocked down, including during 27 rounds in 2 fights against Ali. A portrait of heart and determination and class.

27 Brett McKay February 10, 2010 at 12:28 pm


I didn’t like Burns’ Jazz series not because of the content-I love jazz-but just because I didn’t think it was as well done as his other documentaries.

28 funker February 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I read each one thinking: Diggstown must be next on the list. I love that movie.

However, I have not seen some of the ones above so I’ll have a look.

29 brohammas February 10, 2010 at 12:30 pm

if people are sneaking in any movie with a fight in it, go ahead and list “Far and Away”.

“Tell me ya’ like me hat Shannon. Tell me ya like me hat.”

30 T.B. February 10, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Not boxing movies per se: “On the Waterfront” (Brando was a boxer); “The Quiet Man” (Duke was a boxer). “Kid Dynamite” with the Bowery Boys wasn’t so hot. I thought Cagney made a boxing movie, but googling came up empty. There’s a little boxing scene in “Great Expectations” (the one with the late great Jean Simmons). The cowardly lion is fond of saying, “Put up your dukes.” And don’t forget the 3 Stooges.

31 Greg February 10, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Rocky I, Raging Bull, When We Were Kings, Cinderella Man. You could have stopped there.

32 Uberhack February 10, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Man I still get chills when I hear the Rocky music.
I pop it on at the gym every so often. The other guys laugh at first, but before you know it, everyone’s moving quicker, punching and kicking harder and grinning from ear to ear.

33 Desmond February 10, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Great list. However, I think Pulp Fiction qualifies as a boxing movie. In which case, it should make the cut!

34 Tanner February 10, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I was glad to see Cinderella Man on there. I think it supersedes the boxing genre as simply one of the best man movies of all time.

35 Scott February 10, 2010 at 1:58 pm

The Power of One is the boxing movie I’m thinking of.

36 TSherry February 10, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Rocky 4. Stallone single-handedly ends the Cold War. Also, it has the best soundtrack ever. Final thoughts, one of the greatest stories ever told.

37 Living with Balls February 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Rocky IV is the best! The man ended the cold war!

38 Christopher February 10, 2010 at 3:02 pm

This is a great list! Although I still haven’t seen Cinderella Man… this only makes me want to see it even more!

One film I would have loved to have seen here is the South Korean film ‘Crying Fist’ – starring Choi Min-Sik who played the lead role in the utterly awesome Old Boy. It’s the story of two boxers, their own personal stories and their rivalry, was based in truth and was directed to the supposed “South Korean Quentin Tarantino”! Check it out!

39 Mehmood February 10, 2010 at 3:23 pm

On the Waterfront with Marlon Brando, although technically not a movie that dealt solely with boxing, should be on the list.

40 Josh February 10, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Cinderella Man was/is a great movie. One of my all time favorites. However, the portrayal of Max Baer is terribly inaccurate. http://www.maxbaer.org/
P.S.: Wanted to add good post!

41 Jay February 10, 2010 at 7:10 pm

“They Made me a Criminal” is another Garfield Movie that was Classic story . . .

42 Mark Gray February 10, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Tough Enough starring Randy Quaid is a great boxing movie, lots of hot punching action!!

43 Brohammas February 10, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Whoever that was is right… The Power of One is FANTASTIC!
8 punch combination!

44 Liam February 10, 2010 at 8:04 pm

The Hammer definitely should’ve been on there.

45 Martin Cothran February 10, 2010 at 8:11 pm

A list of great heavyweight movies without Requiem for a Heavyweight, with three great actors in their prime is a lightweight list. But that thanks for the other recommendations anyway.

46 CF February 10, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Very happy to see you included Fat City. I just watched this last week (Netflix Streaming if anyone is interested). It’s not a typical inspirational, underdog movie which is what makes it great.
It’s what I imagine would have happened if Rocky lost to Apollo Creed. (Which means we would have been spared the awkward beach training scene)

47 Shehan February 10, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Sometimes I just want to give a big man-hug to AoM. This list was perfect. Clearly you guys watch a lot of boxing movies. You hit every boxing movie I’ve loved. Cinderella Man is an almost perfect movie for our current times and the rest of the movies have been ones I’ve loved and watched. In fact, I just finished Unforgivable blackness– what a person Jack Johnson was.

48 CTDeLude February 11, 2010 at 6:54 am

Another great film about boxing that also comes from South Korean is “The Champion.” Tells the story of why they fight 12 rounds now instead of 14.

49 Nick February 11, 2010 at 12:51 pm

@Brett -

Got it. Sorry to appear snappy, and thanks for clearing it up. His compilation albums, however, include incredibly hard to find and rare recordings in the jazz idiom. I would say the CDs are better than the documentaries themselves, in that vein.

50 Julian G February 11, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I’ve only seen a couple of these. I box some in college currently, and this is an awesome genre. I’ll definitely have to rent a couple of these classics.

51 Chris Nelson February 11, 2010 at 7:13 pm

I’m with Marc Beatty about “The Hurricane” – admittedly, it’s less about boxing, but it embodies a boxer’s tenacity.

What is it about boxing that moves us? It’s the singular nature of it, I suppose…two men facing each other alone. Character gets tested, and a person’s nature is revealed in ways that no other sport can match.

Anyway…reading this made my life a little richer today, so thanks.

52 Chris Kavanaugh February 11, 2010 at 8:48 pm

A small connection of art imitating life. Victor McLaughlin who played opposite John Wayne in THE QUIET MAN actually boxed Jack Johnson as a young man. He later recalled going several rounds before Johnson mercifully ended the fight without to much damage.

53 Guy February 11, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Nice list…Rocky 1 is my favorite! Not actually a boxing movie “Hard Times” with Charley Bronson was a decent bare knuckle movie.

54 Richard Esposito February 12, 2010 at 9:27 am

James Cagney ; The boxer in ” City for Conquest”

55 Handel February 12, 2010 at 9:29 am

Nice list! I’m told that the original novel FAT CITY by Leonard Gardner is even better than the movie. Also worth a look is Takeshi Kitano’s KIDS RETURN, which follows two childhood friends who drop out of high school to ascend the ranks of boxing and the yakuza


56 Thad February 12, 2010 at 10:41 am

What about Charlie Chaplin’s The Champion from 1915?

Or, while it may not be the most dramatic, what about the first match on film … Leonard-Cushing Fight (1894)?

Also, speaking of Gentlemen Jim, he appeared in Corbett & Courtney Before the Kinetograph (1894), which is the second fight to appear on film. A film from which he made nearly $15,000 over the course of its life. Have never been able to see the entire film, but pieces of it can be seen on YouTube.

57 PK February 13, 2010 at 2:36 am

The best Rockys were Rocky 1, Rocky 4, and Rocky Balboa. Rocky 2 and 3 weren’t as good as the rest. Rocky 3 was the worst.

58 kb February 16, 2010 at 9:38 am

Where is The Hurricane??

59 Leo February 16, 2010 at 10:40 am

My favorite bare knuckle fighter is Hard Times with Bronson and Coburn. For good dumb boxing fun, Undisputed is pretty cool, but dumb.

60 Nicola February 17, 2010 at 10:22 am

I watched The Champ for the first time when I was about 7 and cried for a whole afternoon. Fantastic film.

61 Nick Stone February 17, 2010 at 7:23 pm

I’m way off topic here, but I gotta say you took an unfair shot at “Ken Burns’ Jazz” there. I agree that all of his stuff has just been awesome, but I thought Jazz was pretty damn good as well! Perhaps it’s because I’m a big fan of jazz that makes me feel that way, but I felt I needed to throw that out there.

Otherwise, haha, a great post as always. I’ve never seen many of the older films listed here, and I’m gonna have to go look them up. I’ve always been a fan and practitioner of the Sweet Science, and you’ve given me an excuse to enjoy some good old movies for the next little while.

62 CD February 18, 2010 at 12:41 pm

You’re missing out on Korean boxing film Crying Fist, starring Oldboy himself Choi Min-Sik as a washed-up ex-champion that lets people (jilted girlfriends, laid-off office workers) pay him to pummel him in the street. Utterly spectacular.


63 JJ February 19, 2010 at 6:25 am

You did not mention Streets of Gold.
There was a boxing movie with a very young Denzel in it. I had it on VHS tape but was unable to find it. If anyone remembers it please put it in one of the messages. Denzel was not the star, he played the boxers friend/manager in the movie. As a sport boxer I find the difficulty of making a boxing scenes in movies look real a challenge in itself.

64 Scott February 23, 2010 at 9:31 am

Play It To The Bone, should be on here for the fight scenes alone. It is widely heralded as the best fight scenes by boxing insiders. When the movie came out, many fight fans called it the fight of the year, because it was that real. Has to be on the list,and I can’t believe I am the only one to mention it.

65 Jacob Clifford March 19, 2010 at 8:19 pm

what about Rocky Marciano? with jon favreau. It was awesome!

66 C# March 22, 2010 at 2:48 pm

@ Dan – I agree 100% with you on women fighting: they generally shouldn’t – especially for sport. I didn’t see Million Dollar Baby because it seemed to be another feminist movie about a woman trying to be a man.

67 Mo Train March 23, 2010 at 10:55 am

Rocky is forever a classic!!!

68 Eddie April 12, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Yeah, I also like Hard Times, Streets of Gold, Gladiator, Tough Enough.I want to see Tyson and also Once Upon A Time in Mexico. I used to rent Cage a lot with Lou Ferrigno. Triumph of the Spirit was about a Jewish Concentration camp where they had to fight for money.Dan Akroyd made a funny boxing movie in the 80′s.My dad considers Joe Loius The Best Boxer All Over The World- I think there is a biographical movie about him.I used to have a biography boxing film about an Irish champ-darn I forgot the name of it I think it was Southpaw. I want to collect an old wrestling movie from the early 70′s, it was about two American wrestlers that are on the road apearring at different cities. I think one of the two main actors was Fred Ward-it was a drama with some nasty deadly submission holds. The high action point of the film happens when the two men fight over the same girl!

69 Jason April 22, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Have to add a vote for Diggstown, as well as for The Power of One.

70 Charlie May 20, 2010 at 2:18 pm

How can you forget the South Korean film “Crying Fist”?! It had Choi Min-sik, the star of “Old Boy” as a down-on-his-luck former olympic champion that has to panhandle to get movie to support his son. He walks around downtown with a sign that says, “Take out your anger and hate on me. 5$”, and having people line up to punch him in the face. Alongside him is Ryu Seung-beom, playing a street kid that gets sent to prison for a variety of theft-related crimes, where he starts boxing as part of his “rehabilitation”. Both are set to meet for a metaphorical “second chance at life”. It’s odd because you don’t want either of them to lose, since they’re fighting their hearts out. What starts out as a boxing match, ends as a war of attrition.

I recommend you review your list and add this one too it. :)

71 George E. Amon III June 2, 2010 at 8:56 am

How about Rocky Marciano with Jon Faverau…. Good movie nice low budget.

72 Kurt Anderson June 2, 2010 at 8:20 pm

I have a few suggestions. Facing Ali is a great documentary that can change a man’s negative view of Ali if he happens to have one. Very well done. Also (and I might be disagreed with on this one) I think that Gladiator, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. with a very sinister Brian Dennehy, is a very entertaining movie. I dont think too many people saw it but its somewhat inspiring for a movie made in the early 90′s and pretty manly I think!

P.S.- Can we start a list of Best Arm Wrestling Movies and just have Over The Top on it? Think about it.

73 Mary Leen June 9, 2010 at 11:49 am

Don’t forget the Quiet Man. It might seem frivilous at first but the back story about why John Wayne’s character won’t fight is very touching. And then there’s the hilarious Village Fight Scene!

74 James June 22, 2010 at 7:21 pm


Story about coming of age and self discovery.

75 Enio Sarmiento July 26, 2010 at 8:22 pm

I agree with Brett. The first Rocky is the best one.

76 GRAIG July 31, 2010 at 9:28 am


77 ronan August 14, 2010 at 5:53 pm

The Boxer with Daniel Day Lewis

78 seb October 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm

There is a really moving boxing movie out there called “Heart” with the catchline – ‘everyone has one has last fight’ if i recall correctly been trying to find it for long time but no success. Any info on it please post here i’m sure i’ll be back ! thanks

79 Seb October 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm
80 Vivekmaru December 26, 2012 at 5:18 am

There are some movies you have forgotten to add.

Hard Times 1975 starring Charles Bronson Chaney, a drifter who travels to Louisiana during the Great Depression and begins competing in illegal bare-knuckled boxing matches. This was Walter Hill’s directorial debut.

Gladiator 1992 film directed by Rowdy Herrington. The film tells the story of two teenagers trapped in the world of illegal underground boxing. One is fighting to pay off gambling debts accumulated by his father. The second is fighting for the money to get out of the ghetto. While being exploited by a boxing promoter, the two teens become friends.

Also Truimph Of The Spirit 1989 directed by Robert M. Young starring William Dafoe. It is based on the true story of Salamo Arouch, a Greek-Jewish boxer imprisoned in Auschwitz during World War II and was forced to fight other internees to the death for the SS guards’ entertainment.

Also Tyson 1995 television film based on the life of American heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson. Directed by Uli Edel, it is an adaptation of the 1989 book Fire and Fear: The Inside Story of Mike Tyson by José Torres, former boxer and former chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission. The film depicts events from Tyson’s troubled childhood in Brooklyn through his conviction in 1992 for the rape of beauty pageant contestant Desiree Washington.

Tough Enough 1983 boxing film starring Dennis Quaid & directed by Richard Fleischer about a down-on-his-luck country & western singer from Fort Worth enters a “toughman” competition to help pay his family’s bills. Surprisingly, he does well against the other fighters and wins enough matches to qualify for a national championship. An unexpected break forces him to choose between his passion for his music career and his new-found success.

Facing Ali is a 2009 documentary directed by Pete McCormack about Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky) as told from the perspectives of some of the notable opponents he faced during his career: George Chuvalo, Sir Henry Cooper, George Foreman, “Smokin’” Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes (a former sparring partner of Ali), Ron Lyle, Ken Norton, Earnie Shavers, Leon Spinks and Ernie Terrell.

81 Sev January 9, 2013 at 9:08 pm

where is The Hurricane starring Demzel Washington.

82 Matt March 12, 2013 at 3:10 pm

The Quiet Man – John Wayne + Ireland + bare knuckle boxing with his brother in law = awesome.

83 JR March 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm

What about Requiem for a Heavyweight 1962 with A. Quinn

84 Brian March 31, 2013 at 1:48 pm

“Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story” is a touching documentary about the dynamics of what happened outside of the ring when a death occurred on the inside.

85 J.R. Shell April 5, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I see Rocky (1) but not Rocky Balboa.

Rocky is one of the best movies ever produced, but Rocky Balboa… that’s the best movie in the franchise.

86 jacob April 12, 2013 at 5:59 pm

The Boxer- with daniel day lewis

87 Shank July 24, 2013 at 10:42 pm

‘The Fighter’ starring Mark Wahlburg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams is a modern day classic, it definitely deserves a place on this list.

88 eric mendoza November 24, 2013 at 12:30 am

im trying to find a boxing movie where at the last fight the guys old coach comes in and fights him but the fight bare knuckle and the boxer hurts his hand on the guys head and just moves around until he can get his hand back and just beats the crap outta the old man ahha if you guys know what im talking about please let me know cause thats all i remember

89 Steve A December 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm

I am shocked no one mentioned “The Great White Hope,” depicting the Jack Johnson boxing era. True to life, and confronted racisim in and out of the ring!

90 Ms. Z January 9, 2014 at 9:42 pm

I caught part of an old boxing movie while I was at the gym and I’d like to see the rest. It was a black and white movie set in Hawaii during a war and the Army boxing team was trying to persuade a man to box for a competition. He was repeatedly given harsh punishments because he wouldn’t compete by principle: he’d blinded his last opponent. There was also a lot of romance and a girl named Alma and Noreen. Can anyone name this movie?

91 karry March 30, 2014 at 8:58 am

Cant remember the name of the movie, Story of a young guy who trains under an old man and starts dating his daughter later on ???

92 Liam April 2, 2014 at 2:16 am

“The Boxer” with Daniel Day Lewis

One of the best films ever made with boxing at the heart of the story.

Great acting, great story, great moral & c’mon, it’s called “The Boxer”.

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