Top 5 Boxing Movies of All Time

Sports-related movies play fascinating component in the world of cinema. Whether they follow a real-life story or not, virtually anyone can relate to sports in some way – and they can feel more engaged with the narrative. Yet if there’s one sport which works better than any other in that regard, it is boxing

Why Boxing?

Based on research by Betway, boxing makes up 20% of the titles found on IMDb’s list for the top 50 sports films. It is represented more than any other sport, which helps to signify that boxing works well in movie form.

Why? In general, the sport acts as a metaphor for the main character’s life. When you throw in the unpredictable and violent nature of boxing, you have a perfect blend for cinema. Fights are thrilling and dramatic, and they act as a perfect culmination to the trial-and-tribulation story told with your standard boxing movie. 

As the following list demonstrates, however, not every boxing movie follows that structure. Using IMDb’s rating, accolades, and Betway’s research for guidance, here are the top five boxing movies of all time.

Raging Bull 

On IMDb’s list of the top 50 sports films, only two entries have received the Best Picture award at the Golden Globes. Raging Bull is one of them. The movie also goes against the usual trope of a triumphant ending. Instead, it details the real-life ups-and-downs of Jake LaMotta, the popular “Bronx Bull” who was once middleweight champion of the world. 

The movie is brought to life by Robert De Niro’s portrayal of LaMotta. Add director Martin Scorsese to the mix, and you have a one-two that was always going to score a knockout.

Million Dollar Baby

Going back to that aforementioned list, Million Dollar Baby is just one of three films to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Like Raging Bull, it also does away with conventional storytelling for a boxing movie. 

The movie, which revolves around Maggie Fitzgerald’s fight career, is a story that is both uplifting and heartbreaking. Clint Eastwood’s role as trainer Frankie Dunn helped turn the film into an instant classic. 

Cinderella Man 

With a title like Cinderella Man, it doesn’t take a genius to work out it follows the usual boxing movie structure with a triumphant ending. Even so, this biography about James J. Braddock – an unlikely contender who comes out of retirement, goes on a winning streak, and lands a world heavyweight title shot – is a captivating watch. 

The Fighter 

The Fighter is another film that centres around real-life events. This time following the story of Micky Ward, it’s less about the boxing and more about Ward’s relationship with his volatile brother, Dick Eklund. This biographical drama portrays the fighter’s unlikely rise towards title contention. 

Rocky 

No list like this one can be complete without Rocky. Not only is it the most famous boxing-related movie ever, but it could also be seen as the best. Another Oscar winner with Best Picture, Rocky is an inspirational tale about a club fighter receiving the opportunity of a lifetime out of nowhere – and grasping it with both hands. The film – and eventual series – has inspired people across the world, and the ‘Rocky Steps’ has become a major tourist attraction in Philadelphia.