Stepping Into The Ring Of Cinema

Boxing in movies have served several purposes. A&E editor, Devin David, goes in depth with certain great boxing movies.

Devin David, Arts & Entertainment Editor

On March 3, 2023, Creed III was released in theaters across the U.S. and grossed over $200 million worldwide. The success of this movie and the release of ‘Big George Foreman’, the George Foreman biopic, has proven that boxing movies are still capable of being successful and are still in demand. While boxing movies have the reputation of being mind-numbing fun action, there are many films that carry significant themes spanning from never giving up to fighting for one’s identity.

Rocky Balboa on top of the famous stairs in Philadelphia
Photo provided by Flickr


The ‘Rocky’ franchise has been a cornerstone of boxing movies ever since its first movie was released in 1976. Sylvester Stallone, the man who wrote the script for the Oscar-winning film  ‘Rocky’ took off to become a huge film franchise that spanned over 9 movies and counting. However, before the success, Stallone was a struggling artist who barely earned enough to make ends meet. This is why the underdog tone and foundation of the first Rocky film were loosely based on Stallone’s own circumstances.


‘Rocky’ is an underdog tale that stands the test of time and age still impacting lives after 47 years. . Given a once in a lifetime opportunity, will Rocky Balboa, who wasted his prime, be able to go the distance to defeat a man who is a nationwide phenomenon, Apollo Creed?  ‘Rocky II’,  is a slow-burner compared to upcoming films and is a rehash of the first but this time Rocky beats Apollo.


‘Rocky III’ and ‘Rocky IV’ are jam-packed with action and whimsical fight scenes on the surface, but beneath are stories about loss whether that be from the death of trainer Mickey or rival-turned-best friend Apollo Creed.


‘Rocky V’ had potential, dealing with a retired and aged Rocky who has a conflicting relationship with his son, but the movie struggled to land a punch with audiences with its poor storytelling. However, ‘Rocky Balboa” lands the mark with an overaged Rocky dealing with the hardships of life. The movie dealt with the loss of his wife, Adrian, and the void one could feel during this time. This movie out of all the original ‘Rocky’ films really shares the motivation of that fight to continue to keep fighting even through the toughest of times.

Jake Lamotta in the ring Photo provided by Flickr


‘Raging Bull’ (1980), directed by Martin Scorsese, based on the real-life boxer, Jake LaMotta (played by Robert Deniro), is the polar opposite of the motivating aura that came from films such as ‘Rocky’. The film deals with LaMotta’s life and pulls from his autobiography as his career progressed. The interesting part of the film is not the boxing part of it, but the characterization of LaMotta. Deniro plays both protagonist and antagonist since the man he is portraying is filled with anger and anxiety throughout the span of his life. LaMotta is portrayed as a self-destructing man who ruins the relationships of all that are around due to his continuous narcissism and abuse. The ideologies in this film are obviously terrible to us in the modern era but in context, the misogynistic views and treatment of women were ordinary within the film’s time period of the 1940s. The film is beautifully shot in black and white that encapsulates the vileness of the film. ‘Raging Bull’ is not for everyone, but those who would enjoy character studies that explore troubled individuals will love this viewing and I highly recommend it.

‘South Paw’ (2015) directed by Antoine Fuqua, is a film that meshes both motivation and grounded themes together. Billy Hope, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is the middleweight champion of the world and is at the peak of his career. Hope has a wife and a daughter and lives happily in his lavish life. That is until disaster strikes and Hope suffers the loss of his wife. The movie deals with Hope trying to better himself for the sake of his daughter and he seeks to get back on top of the boxing world to help him deal with his grief. Gyllenhaal plays the character beautifully in which it is obvious to audiences that the man has been hit in the head several times. He carries the emotional sports drama in moments where he fights for custody of his daughter after losing her due to his suicidal temptations after the loss of his wife. It is a motivating story of witnessing a man go through hell and back while still fighting for what he loves.