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The 10 Best Boxing Movies in Cinema History

21 March 2013 | Features, Film Lists, Guest Posts | by David Zou

Boxing is an exciting sport in itself and because of this; there have been many movies to hit theatres that revolve around the boxing world. If you have ever wondered what the best boxing movies are in the history of cinema, there are a far few to choose from.

Here is a collection of the top 10 boxing movies of all time, and some that you may not have viewed yet; but that you definitely should see soon:


10. Resurrecting the Champ


Made in 2007, ‘Resurrecting the Champ’ is a film about a sports reporter who finds a homeless man and then discovers that he is none other than a boxing legend who the world believes is dead.

The reporter attempts to resurrect the story of the champ and ends up examining his own life in the process, and how his father’s success has kept him from excelling throughout life. This is a moving tale and one that is filled with action and adventure, as the Champ in fact resurrects his own career.


9. Diggstown


The 1992 classic ‘Diggstown’ stars Louis Gossett Jr along with James Woods. The two are conmen who attempt to use boxing as a means of overthrowing an evil empire. It has comedy and drama, and although it is not normally considered one of the great boxing movies, it is certainly one worth considering.

Those who enjoy a good laugh from time to time, along with great boxing scenes, will definitely enjoy this one.


8. When We Were Kings

When We Were Kings

‘When We Were Kings’ is a film based on a true story. It tells the tale of the Rumble in the Jungle fight between boxing legends Muhammad Ali and George Forman. One scene that helps to make this one of the best boxing flicks, is when Ali is seen walking through the slums of Zaire directly after his fight.

He has no bodyguard because he does not feel as if he needs one. This film won the Academy Award for the Best Documentary, and is certainly one to see for anyone who enjoys true portrayals.


7. Cinderella Man

Cinderella Man

‘Cinderella Man’ is the story of James Braddock and his journey to the top, as well as his fall to the bottom of the boxing industry.

His story took place during the Great Depression and the movie centres around his boxing career and how he struggles to survive the Depression; ultimately reaching the ring to compete for the heavyweight championship. This is a true story and an inspiring one at that.


6. On the Waterfront

On the Waterfront

Marlon Brando is the epitome of the ultimate tough guy. In ‘On the Waterfront’, he delivers his famous “I coulda been” speech.

This is an older film, made in the 1950’s but is still one of the greatest of its type in history. It won a total of eight Academy Awards and is the story of a man vying for the heavyweight championship while working on his own personal issues.

It is definitely one to see if you want a great vintage film, or if you simply love seeing Brando at his best.


5. Ali

Ali movie

‘Ali’ is the story of Muhammad Ali and stars Will Smith. This is a moving film that shows you a bit of the ‘behind-the-scenes life’ of the boxing great. Released in 2001, it also stars Jon Voight as Howard Cosell and both actors in the film were nominated for Academy Awards due to their portrayal of their characters.

If you have ever wondered how Ali’s “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” rant began, watching this movie is an absolute must. Any fan of boxing has certainly seen the portrayal of Ali’s life and if not, now is the time to watch.


4. The Fighter

The Fighter

‘The Fighter’ is a relatively new movie but a good boxing one at that. It stars Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg. Mark Wahlberg plays boxing legend Mickey Ward and his stepbrother Dicky Eklund is portrayed by Christian Bale.

The movie shows the struggle between the two boxers, and the rise and fall of Eklund as he gets addicted to crack and then attempts to once again be the best.


3. Million Dollar Baby


‘Million Dollar Baby’ is a bit of a twist on traditional boxing movies. It was directed by film legend Clint Eastwood and stars Hillary Swank who is a female boxer. The movie won the Academy Award in 2004 for Best Picture, likely because of its ingenious plot.

Clint Eastwood also won the Academy Award for Best Director and a nomination for Best Actor as well. Morgan Freeman stars as Swank’s trainer and the plot revolves around the bond between Swank and Freeman. This is a definite-must for any boxing lover, and is great because it is a movie for both men and women.


2. Rocky


If you are a fan of boxing, you know all about ‘Rocky’. While the saga has been relatively long going, it is still considered one of the best boxing stories of all time.

It all began in 1976 with the debut of the original Rocky and then went on to include a total of six movies starring Sylvester Stallone as Rocky. The series features everything from the very beginning to losing his best friend and mentor, to retiring and finally re-entering the ring for one more fight. All of the Rocky movies make the list for best boxing films in history.


1. Raging Bull


‘Raging Bull’ is a bit of an older flick but still a great boxing movie. Robert De Niro took home the Best Actor Academy Award in 1980 due to his portrayal of the life story of Jake LaMotta.

The film delves into the issues that LaMotta faced throughout his boxing career. Martin Scorsese directed the film and it also starred Joe Pesci. Raging Bull has made many top lists in its time. It is listed as number four on the top 100 films of all time by the American Film Institute, and is a riveting tale of violence inside and outside the boxing ring.

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  • SJHoneywell

    Two words: Fat City

  • Michael Smith

    The absences of FAT CITY and GENTLEMEN JIM are unforgivable!

  • Jesper Ström

    Good topic for a list – but does the great “On the waterfront” really count as a boxing film? Apart from the already mentioned “Fat city”, I would also add “The harder they fall” with Bogart in here – and certainly rank it above the over-hyped, clichéd “Million dollar baby”, too. Come to think of it, even “Girlfight” is a better pick because it’s not as schmaltzy.