The 10 best boxing movies of all-time, including Raging Bull and Cinderella Man

The Oscars went out with a bang on Sunday - quite literally, as Will Smith landed a big slap on comedian Chris Rock. With that in mind, Planet Sport takes a look at the 10 best boxing films ever made.

Chris Rock - who was the host of the awards ceremony - made a joke about the actor's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and it even got an initial laugh out of Will Smith himself. That was until he turned and saw Jada roll her eyes. 

Seconds later, Will got up on the stage, slapped Rock and then sat back down before yelling "keep my wife's name out of your f*****g mouth." Ten minutes later, Will Smith won an Oscar for his performance in King Richard...a film about tennis.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Jake Paul has gone on to offer both men $15million to settle their differences inside a boxing ring. Smith is no stranger to boxing though, having portrayed Muhammad Ali in his 2001 biopic and even worked with Sugar Ray Leonard's ex-trainer Darrell Foster to prepare for the part.

Smith trained for two years to fit the role and even asked Ali to wait for three months before he could watch him rehearse. Considering what we now know, does it mean Rock has an incredible chin or does Smith just have a weak hand?

In honour of the most exciting thing to happen at an awards show in years, we take a look back at some of the best boxing movies ever made. Smith's 'Ali' film doesn't make the list, because it's truly tedious.

Raging Bull (1980)

This takes a look at the story of Jake LaMotta - the former middleweight world champion known for his six fight-rivalry with Sugar Ray Robinson. The movie is written by Paul Schrader - known for other projects such as Taxi Driver and The Last Detail. Playing Italian-American LaMotta is Roberto De Niro, with Joe Pesci also starring in the picture.

The film itself can at times be difficult to watch, due to the violence and brutality inside the ring as well as out of it. LaMotta falls in love with a girl from the Bronx, but is unable to express his feelings. It eventually costs him everything.

Raging Bull originally got a mixed reception, but it has since received critical acclaim and is regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made.

Rocky series (1976 - present)

There's been so many Rocky films it's hard to pick out a favourite. The first Rocky will always be a contender as the best out of the lot.

Rocky Balboa faces Apollo Creed for the heavyweight championship of the world after being hand-picked by the champion. While Rocky was unable to deliver the huge upset, he managed a credible points defeat to earn a name for himself.

It was the highest-grossing film of 1976 (more than $117million at Box Office) and was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning three, including best picture.

Then there is Rocky IV from 1985.

Apollo Creed is killed in the ring by Russian fighter Ivan Drago in an exhibition bout, and that forces Rocky into a revenge mission to go and fight Drago in his native country.

In the 12th and final round, the Soviet crowd get behind Rocky and start chanting his name, inspiring him to deliver a crushing knockout. Rocky finally delivered his revenge for the death of former rival, coach and friend Apollo Creed.

There's six Rocky films in the franchise in total and spin-off films with the Creed series. A third installment is rumoured to be in the works for the end of 2022.

The Fighter (2010)

Mark Wahlberg

This is a classic.

Mark Wahlberg portrays Micky Ward, while Christian Bale plays his half-brother Dicky Eklund. The movie was created from the 1995 documentary High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell, which included the Eklund-Ward family.

Ward is a welterweight boxer managed by his mother and trained by his half-brother Dicky - a once-promising fighter who had been in the ring with Sugar Ray Leonard but was now battling with crack addiction.

The drama sees Ward turn his back on his family after a run of heavy defeats, alongside getting his hand broken by the police for trying to protect his half-brother Dicky who had been arrested.

However, this film is all about redemption and the two brothers reunite as Ward ends with a fairytale world title win.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Morgan Freeman

Clint Eastwood dipped his toes into the boxing genre in style alongside Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman. The movie is based on tales by F.X. Toole - the pen name of boxing manager and cutman Jerry Boyd.

Eastwood plays Frankie Dunn - a boxing trainer who works with aspiring female boxer Mary Margaret "Maggie" Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank). Dunn is a coach deemed as too old and stuck in his ways, while Fitzgerald wants to climb to the top of the sport, but her age and lack of experience make her a huge underdog.

This is a movie will make you grab the tissues as the end with a sucker-punch of a conclusion (we don't want to spoil it for you). It won a long list of awards, including best picture at the Academy Awards.

The Champ (1979)

A remake of the 1931 version, The Champ is an Academy Award-winning movie which features Jon Voight who plays Billy Flynn.

Flynn - a retired boxer - wins $6,400 from a bet and buys his son a horse.

The problem is, he is a gambling addict and a drunk who ends up being chased by debt collectors. Flynn is forced to return to the ring in order to pay them off. 'Champ' defeats a Mexican heavyweight champion, but the aftermath offers a brutal ending to an enthralling film.

Cinderella Man (2005)

James Braddock

The 2005 American biographical sports drama is directed by Ron Howard, and follows the career of ex-heavyweight champion James Braddock who held the title from 1935 to 1937.

Braddock (played by Russell Crowe) was forced to work all kinds of jobs during the Great Depression (1929 to 1933) to provide food for his family. Braddock earned the nickname Cinderella Man for his sensational win over Max Baer in 1935.

Prior to the fight, Braddock was shown footage of Baer who was deemed a monster inside the ring, having killed two opponents with his fists. The promoter James Johnston showed Braddock the tape to tell others that he had been warned.

However, he outpointed the much-feared Baer to become heavyweight champion in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history.

The Hurricane (1999)


Denzel Washington stars as Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in the 1999 blockbuster. Carter is sent to prison for the murder of three people and receives three life sentences alongside John Artis.

At the time of his arrest, Carter was seen as a rising middleweight star and many believed he had all the ingredients to become one of the greatest fighters of all time.

Carter pleaded throughout the trial that he was innocent and said that his race, boxing career and work as a civil rights activist were the reasons behind his sentencing. The movie focuses on Carter's time in prison from 1966 to 1985 before he gets released for being wrongly convicted.

The judge deemed his sentence was racially motivated rather than based on facts. Carter said 'hate got me into this place, love got me out'.

The Great White Hope (1970)

Jack Johnson Jeffries

James Earl Jones stars as Jack Jefferson in a film which documents the life of boxing's first black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson.

Set between 1910 to 1915 the film follows Jefferson's hot streak of victories through the division, but he loses focus on the big picture when he falls in love with Eleanor Backman - behind his wife's back.

The hostility in the film is obvious from the get-go, and only gets worse as Jefferson continues to box and date Backman.

Fat City (1972)

Director John Huston adapted a great boxing novel with the film Fat City to create one of the best movies of all-time when it comes to the subject of pugilism.

Billy Tully, a boxer past his prime, goes to Stockton, California, to get back into shape and ends up having a sparring session with 18-year-old Ernie Munger. He is so impressed with the teenager it inspires Tully himself to go back into the boxing ring.

Huston does a great job of reminding people about the reality of small-time boxing. It is characters like Tully - who get used as a punching bag for up-and-coming prospects while earning next to nothing in the process. And when fighters like Tully win, they have an even bigger shock than victory.

Journeyman (2017)

Paddy Considine

The film includes writer and producer Paddy Considine alongside Jodie Whittaker, Tony Pitts and Anthony Welsh.

The film tells the story of Matty Burton, a middleweight world champion who continues to fight for a living despite being past his best. Burton defends his title against the outspoken Andre Bryte, but suffers severe headaches after the fight and passes out in his living room.

Burton has brain surgery following the punishment he has taken inside the ring, which sees him deteriorate physically and mentally. This is a story which portrays the impact not only on Burton, but also his marriage and his family.

Read more: Every boxing world champion, including Canelo Alvarez and Tyson Fury

Latest news