Movies

10 boxing movies to check out

“Somebody Up There Likes Me”
“Somebody Up There Likes Me”

The decision is unanimous: Prizefighting is the movies’ favorite sport.

Two well-muscled males, nearly naked, do violence to each other. This occurs within a space small enough to be easily framed but big enough to allow for lots of movement and action. And since fighters don’t wear headgear, close-ups are a breeze.

From “The Champ” to the “Rocky” series to last year’s “Southpaw,” boxing movies keep coming. The latest, “Hands of Stone,” opens Friday.

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That movie belongs to a subgenre: the boxing biopic. “Hands of Stone” stars Edgar Ramírez as middleweight champion Roberto Duran. Robert De Niro plays Duran’s trainer. De Niro was Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull,” the most acclaimed of boxing biopics.

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Boxing biopics keep on coming, too. Miles Teller stars as Vinny Pazienza, in “Bleed for This,” set to arrive in November. Ang Lee’s “Thrilla in Manila,” about the epic championship fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975, has a 2018 release date. Jeremy Renner is attached to a Rocky Marciano film. And “Raging Bull” director Martin Scorsese has a Mike Tyson biopic in the works, starring Jamie Foxx.

Here’s a selection of boxing biopics. Put on the gloves, wait for the sound of the bell, then come out viewing.

GENTLEMAN JIM, 1942

Director: Raoul Walsh

Boxer/actor: James J.
Corbett/Errol Flynn

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Ranking: Heavyweight champion

Chief opponent/actor: John L. Sullivan/Ward Bond

Trainer/actor: Bill Delaney/William Frawley

Love interest/actress:
Victoria Ware/Alexis Smith

Oscar nominations: None

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Don King as character: No

Odd fact: Flynn, who suffered a mild heart attack
during filming, did all his own boxing.

SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME, 1956

Director: Robert Wise

Boxer/actor: Rocky Graziano/Paul Newman

Ranking: Middleweight champion

Chief opponent/actor:
Tony Zale/Court Shepard

Trainer/actor: Irving Cohen/Everett Sloane

Love interest/actress: Norma Graziano/Pier Angeli

Oscar nominations: Three

Don King as character: No

Odd fact: James Dean, originally cast as Graziano, died before filming began.

THE GREATEST, 1977

Director: Tom Gries

Boxer/actor: Muhammad Ali/Muhammad Ali

Ranking: Heavyweight
champion

Chief opponent/actor: Sonny Liston/Roger Mosley

Trainer/actor: Angelo Dundee/Ernest Borgnine

Love interest/actress: Belinda Ali/Annazette Chase

Oscar nominations: None

Don King as character: No

Odd fact: It’s hard to get odder than Ali playing himself.

RAGING BULL, 1980

Director: Martin Scorsese

Boxer/actor: Jake LaMotta/Robert De Niro

Ranking: Middleweight champion

Chief opponent/actor: Sugar Ray Robinson/Johnny Barney

Trainer/actor: Joey LaMotta/Joe Pesci

Love interest/actress: Vikki LaMotta/Cathy Moriarty

Oscar nominations: Eight

Don King as character: No

Odd fact: De Niro, who won a best actor Oscar, gained 60 pounds to play LaMotta after his ring career.

TYSON, 1995

Director: Uli Edel

Boxer/actor: Mike Tyson/
Michael Jai White

Ranking: Heavyweight
champion

Chief opponent: Himself

Trainer/actor: Cus D’Amato/George C. Scott

Love interest/actress: Robin Givens/Kristen Wilson

Oscar nominations: None

Don King as character: Yes (Paul Winfield)

Odd fact: Mills Lane, who refereed the Tyson-Holyfield fight, plays himself.

THE HURRICANE, 1999

Director: Norman Jewison

Boxer/actor: Rubin Carter/Denzel Washington

Ranking: Middleweight
contender

Chief opponent: The US criminal justice system

Advocate/actor: Lesra
Martin/Vicellous Shannon

Love interest/actress:
Mae Thelma Carter/Debbi Morgan

Oscar nominations: One

Don King as character: No

Odd fact: Washington lost
60 pounds to play Carter.

ALI, 2001

Director: Michael Mann

Boxer/actor: Muhammad Ali/Will Smith

Ranking: Heavyweight
champion

Chief opponent/actor: Sonny Liston/Michael Bentt, Joe Frazier/James Toney, George Foreman/Charles Shufford

Trainer/actor: Angelo Dundee/Ron Silver

Love interests/actresses: Sonji Roi/Jada Pinkett Smith, Belinda Ali/Nona Gaye,
Veronica Porche/Michael
Michele

Oscar nominations: Two

Don King as character: Yes (Mykelti Williamson)

Odd fact: Ali persuaded Smith to take the part after he turned it down.

CINDERELLA MAN, 2005

Director: Ron Howard

Boxer/actor: Jim Braddock/Russell Crowe

Ranking: Heavyweight
champion

Chief opponent/actor:
Max Baer/Craig Bierko

Trainer/actor: Joe Gould/
Paul Giamatti

Love interest/actress:
Mae Braddock/Renée
Zellweger

Oscar nominations: Three

Don King as character: No

Odd fact: Rosemarie DeWitt, who plays a Braddock neighbor, is his real-life granddaughter.

THE FIGHTER, 2010

Director: David O. Russell

Boxer/actor: “Irish” Micky Ward/Mark Wahlberg

Ranking: Light welterweight champion

Chief opponent/actor: Shea Neary/Anthony Molinari

Trainer/actor: Dicky Eklund/Christian Bale

Love interest/actress: Charlene Fleming/Amy Adams

Oscar nominations: Seven

Don King as character: No

Odd fact: Both Bale and Melissa Leo, as Ward’s mother, won Oscars.

HANDS OF STONE, 2016

Director: Jonathan
Jakubowicz

Boxer/actor: Roberto Duran/Edgar Ramírez

Rankings: Lightweight champion, welterweight champion, light middleweight
champion, middleweight champion

Chief opponent/actor:
Sugar Ray Leonard/Usher Raymond

Trainer/actor: Ray Arcel/
Robert De Niro

Love interest/actress:
Felicidad Iglesias Duran/
Ana de Armas

Oscar nominations: TBD

Don King as character: Yes (Reg E. Cathey)

Odd fact: Gael Garcia Bernal was originally cast to play Duran.

Mark Feeney can be reached at mfeeney@globe.com.