With the release of the boxing film Creed, we countdown the top 10 greatest boxing movies of all time.
10. Rocky IV (1985)
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Regarded as one of the very best of the series, Rocky IV is an all time great. Rocky now retired and a little worse for wear, reluctantly becomes one of Apollo’s corner men. Apollo comes out of retirement to fight a human boxing machine and nobody gives him a chance. Apollo dances his way into the ring and ultimately to his death.
Rocky seeking revenge for Apollo’s death agrees to fight the Russian machine Drago in Russia on Christmas day. Rocky trains in isolation in a remote part of Russia covered in snow. The fight takes place and Rocky proves to everyone Drago is not a machine, he is a man. The Rock’s heart wins over the hostile Russian crowd.
9. Ali (2001)
Director: Michael Mann
The life story of the self proclaimed greatest boxer of all time. The role of Mohammed Ali was always going to be a tough one to play, but Will Smith nails it. Starting out with the abandonment of his slave name Cassius Clay, he turns to Islam and changes his name to Mohammed Ali.
The film shows some incredibly powerful scenes and the strong stance that Ali took which was highly controversial at the time. The film proceeds towards the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” with George Foreman. Ali takes everything the hard-hitting giant has to offer and then knocks him out.
8. Cinderella Man (2005)
Director: Ron Howard
A true-life story that took place during the great depression, a common man became a sporting hero. James J. Braddock an ex prize fighter with no money to support his family, was relying on public relief. However spurned on by his deep determination and pride, he gave it one last shot in the ring. His need to support his family drove him on to an unpredictable winning streak that would see him become the ordinary man’s hero.
7. Southpaw (2015)
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Boxer Billy Hope loses his wife when a scuffle breaks out with a fellow fighter entourage. Billy hits rock bottom fighting depression and loses his daughter to child protection services. Billy is abandoned by his alleged friends and turns to an old trainer to get his life back together.
Billy gets himself together and trains hard for a fight against his nemesis Miguel. The fight goes the distance and Billy wins by a split decision. Billy returns to the dressing room where he enjoys an emotional embrace with his daughter.
6. Creed (2015)
Director: Ryan Coogler
The unofficial addition to the Rocky series. With a lot of pressure to provide a great film, Creed really does deliver that knockout punch. The story line is a little predictable, but the performances are absolutely stunning. Apollo Creeds son wants Rocky to train him and relentlessly pursues Rocky where Rocky eventually agrees. Young Creed gets himself into a bit of trouble and falls in love at the same time. There’s some tear jerking moments as Rocky fights cancer and has to be talked into chemotherapy.
A cocky and aggressive pound for pound champion has one last paycheck before going to prison and fights an inexperienced Adonis Creed. Creed falls a little short, but wins the respect of the fans and the champion (a little like the original).
Even if you haven’t seen Rocky this film is still a really good watch.
5. The Hurricane (1999)
Director: Norman Jewison
Real life passion driver that’s true story beggar’s belief. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter a great boxer from the 1960’s was wrongly convicted of murdering three people at a bar, due to his race. An emotional tearjerker that features a man struggling to stay in control.
Featuring Denzel Washington as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. Bob Dylan wrote the song “Hurricane” in protest to how Rubin was treated.
4. The Fighter (2010)
Director: David O. Russell.
Based on the story of the boxing brothers Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund. The film features a boxer that comes from a dysfunctional family, where his brother is idolized and succumbs to a drug addiction. Micky has to break out of the shadow of his older brother to create his own path, needless to say this doesn’t go down well with the family.
Two Hollywood superstars play the brothers in the form of Mark Wahlberg as Micky and Christian Bale as Dicky. Bale went on to win an Academy Award for best supporting role.
3. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Director: Clint Eastwood.
A female wannabe boxer is kicked out of the gym with the line “I don’t train girls” by Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood). Her persistence and drive towards her dream of breaking away from the lower-class lifestyle eventually changes his mind. The two then go on to create a special bond that helps fill voids within their personal lives.
Million Dollar Baby won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Starring Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman and Maggie Fitzgerald.
2. Raging Bull (1980)
Director: Martin Scorsese
The “Raging Bull” Jack LaMotta, is a man driven by fighting on raw emotion. Fueled by anger, jealousy, resentment, hate and disgust LaMotta fights an artist in the form of “Sugar” Ray Robinson. LaMotta drives himself forward despite receiving a grueling beating from “Sugar” Ray. With blood squirting and eyes closing over the fight is stopped, but LaMotta takes great pride in the fact Ray couldn’t knock him down.
Robert De Niro stars as the “Raging Bull” Jack LaMotta.
1. Rocky Balboa (1976)
Director: John G. Avildsen
The plot, the sound track, the actors and that grey tracksuit take a place in movie history, marking the birth of the ultimate sports movie series (even if it did die off towards the end). Even to the immensely incredibly small percentage of people that haven’t actually seen the film, the word “Rocky” refers to one thing a boxer!
The story line of a once in a lifetime opportunity to conquer the world was actually very close to the reality for Stallone. Stallone was offered 100’s of thousands for the script, but he wouldn’t be allowed to feature in it. Stallone said no and took his chance. Needless to say the chance paid off in a considerable way. Both the film and Stallone show that it’s worth chasing your dream. Rocky went to win an Academy Award for Best Picture in 1976
Don't agree? Let us know your top 10 greatest boxing movies in the comments below.