We’re now months into lockdown and if you’re anything like me your XBox is overheating from too much Fight Night Champion and you are feeling the combat cold turkey hitting hard. Where to turn? Team Southpaw Jab’s Hannah Rankin has been wonderfully posting a classic fight of the day which has been great fun, but another way of getting your fistic hit is with one of a plethora of documentaries available for streaming.
These films are a great way to ease the squared circle shaped void. The thrill of the fights married with the story behind them is sublime when done well. Yes you have to pay for the sites, but hey at least we won’t be coughing up for PPV for a few months. Probably. Perhaps. Ah let’s face it we’re all gonna cough up.
Rather than rely on results these films are a lesson in how these fighters made their legacy and each is interesting in its own way.
At the bottom I’ve listed some of the other boxing documentaries I’ve watched with a short review.
I coughed up £7.99 for this (admittedly well made) documentary on the great Panamanian Hall of Fame(ian). It’s a lot of money but hey ho furlough we go.
Duran was a great fighter, of course, the film looks good and has all the ups, downs and thrills that his final ledger of 103-16 (70) suggests. Where it struggles is that there is no real insight into the man. Everybody, Duran included, spends the whole film telling you how great he was. It is purely platitudes which in and of itself isn’t the end of the world but Roberto’s inability to accept he may have ever made a mistake or slipped up annoyed me some.
I know to be an all time great boxer you have to have that mentality, self belief and stubbornness, but this ain’t boxing, baby, this is cinema. Plus I paid £7.99 to learn more about you when your fights are on YouTube. Although the rest of the documentary is fun, the lax examination knocks I Am Duran down to 6/10 for me. Nothing more than acceptable.
Is Mike Tyson a man wrestling with his conscience and trying to grow, or a psychopath clever enough to realise he has to present his persona as such?
There are loads of documentaries about Mike Tyson, but Tyson is largely thought to rule the roost. I’ve seen many of them and for me this is the best but it’s also the most damning. Watching Mike Tyson fight is a treat, hearing him talk is not so easy. This won’t be popular but I do not like the man and every documentary I’ve seen has only reinforced my opinion. If he turned up at my yard with a bunny for my niece and some beers and steaks I’d assume he wanted to fuck my mum.
This is not to meant to be a diatribe, Mike is magnetic, terrifying, funny, talented and honest. On the surface. I think he’s worked out how to present himself as sympathetic or misunderstood, like any psychopath worth their salt. Everything he says screams glib and superficial to me and this made the film less of a sports watch and more of a true crime doc. I quote,
“I’ve taken advantage of women, but not her”
Hardly defending yourself as a rapist.
An incredibly interesting watch but not the absolution of character some claim. 7/10
Think you know Joe Calzaghe? You probably do, he’s pretty open and Mr Calzaghe is testament to this. Although all three fighters in the Duran/ Tyson/ Calzaghe docs open up, only one does it believably. Joe.
Joe’s relationship with his father Enzo is pivotal to the film, his career and entire life. It made me call my dad and ask him why the fuck I’m not a Hall of Fame boxer. Bloody parents. Maybe it’s because Joe Calzaghe comes across as neither a liar or a psychopath, or because I’m not a boxing historian and had great fun watching his career again, Mr Calzaghe is the best box-doc (™) I’ve seen in lock down.
There’s an openness, humour and familial sentimentality which makes Mr Calzaghe add to the brilliant excitement of its fight script. 8/10
Some other boxing documentaries I’ve watched are (and sorry these are almost all on Amazon)
When the Bell Rings– Probably better than I Am Duran. Why didn’t I use it instead of I Am Duran? Because I spent £7.99 on I Am Duran and the title of this article wouldn’t work.
Cinderella Man– Largely a collection of James Braddock fight footage with almost no narration. Perhaps interesting if you’re training to fight James Braddock or really bored (the latter in my case).
Marciano– Uninteresting circle jerk from the nineties. Dated disservice.
Fallen Soldier– deeply upsetting film that somehow avoids ever really addressing why.
Night of the Fight: Hatton’s Last Stand– Ricky was my hero. I didn’t enjoy this.