Boxing dates back to the original Olympians — so it’s had some time to cement itself as a societal staple. Fans know that boxing, maybe more than any other sport, means blood, sweat and tears; it means pushing yourself when you want to give up the most; it means glorious victory and agonizing defeat. That’s part of the reason why boxing films have traditionally done very well. The sport embraces themes that Hollywood loves; struggling to succeed, overcoming adversity, underdogs rising to the top. Here are 5 films that convey those themes perfectly.
1. Rocky (1976)
It just wouldn’t be possible to make a list of boxing movies without including Rocky. It’s the quintessential underdog story, a gripping exploration of the hard work it takes to succeed in boxing.
Sylvester Stallone plays the titular character, a working class dreamer who works his way up from small time fights to earn a shot at the heavyweight title. By following Rocky Balboa as he makes his way up, director John G. Avildsen makes it almost impossible not to root for him. Throughout Rocky’s journey, the audience is treated to an intimate look at what it takes to make it as a professional boxer — from sweaty training sessions to the iconic training sequence through the streets of Philadelphia. Rocky made Stallone a movie star and launched a successful film franchise, which will continue with this year’s Creed. But the original film will always be a true classic, a must-see for boxing fans and non-fans alike.