"His whole life was a million-to-one shot". In 1976, this tagline was used for "Rocky", the first of a stellar saga that would end up spanning 30+ years with a "Best Picture" Oscar win, six films with each having their own unique qualities, and now a spin-off about the son of Apollo Creed. But boxing didn't stop there...and why is that?
We all know the movies. "Raging Bull", "The Boxer", "Girl Fight", "Cinderella Man", "The Fighter". If you haven't heard of one or more of these films you are missing out. There are very few boxing films out there but yet every time one comes out they get attention at the Academy Awards almost every time. Why is that? Because to me, boxing films are some of the most important films in society. When "Rocky" first came out, it was hailed and went on to become regarded as "The Greatest Underdog Story of Our Time". Everyone can say they have one favorite "Rocky" film from the simply classic to the over-the-top "Rocky IV". "Cinderella Man" is about a guy who attempts to feed his family and reclaim his honor in the ring during the Depression Era. "The Boxer" is about a former mafia man trying to go straight. "The Fighter" is about a family fractured over favoritism of it's two sons. I digress though. You don't have all day. So why are boxing films important to society...because deep down we're all underdogs.
In my opinion, two genres of films demonstrate the perseverance of man in the world, but in different ways. War films deal with people fighting for their lives to exist to see tomorrow. Sports films, particularly boxing films, are about people literally fighting for their place in society. I mean who can't relate to that?!
There are bad people in the world, people who will attempt to keep us down to further their own goals. But boxing films...we get to see people decide on their own terms whether they want to succeed in the world or not. There is no red tape, no garbage favoritism. There are just two men, in a ring, slugging it out. When "Man of Steel" was made, Christopher Nolan suggested that idealism was obsolete...I respectfully disagree. Idealism will always exist and it is no more obvious than in most boxing films.
Why am I telling you this you ask? Because lately our country has had some rough patches here in the United States. I'm here to tell you that you're never out for the count. My family personally has been going through tough times but recently things have started to get much better. We're starting to get our footing back. Which leads to my final point...boxing points out what actor Sly Stallone told us in 2006 with "Rocky Balboa":
"Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain't you! You're better than that!
I don't know if I can say that good always wins. Unfortunately bad guys don't always play fair. Sometimes freak accidents happen which "Million Dollar Baby" showed brutally. Still, what I do know is that whoever fights the hardest, is the smartest, and the most honest will come through in the end usually. Why? Because no matter what people who try to be their best will come through eventually. In boxing films, no one quits. No one stops fighting till the last round. I suppose this article is about two things. One to tell you that boxing films remind us we're not alone in the idea of the American dream, that it's not just an illusion. And two, for those out their taking punches...you are not alone. Someday the country is going to turn around. So be one of those people who looks back and realized, "I never quit and I took every punch with a smile on my face."
Don't believe me? Suffering from depression or lack of hope? Well then I prescribe to you two boxing movies and then call me in the morning.