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Actors, fighters weigh-in on boxing flicks
Mark Wahlberg was a huge Micky Ward fan back in the day and now he's made a movie about him. It's called "The Fighter" and it opens today. While not enough people have seen it yet to be included on these lists, here is what some actors and fighters say about their all-time favorite boxing movies.
OK. We've updated this post. On January 5, there was a press event for FX's new boxing drama, "Lights Out." We caught up with a few of the actors and fighters on hand and asked for their top three movies. Since the original post, "The Fighter" has also been released nationwide. The additions are at the top:
Micky Ward, the inspiration for the movie, "The Fighter."
"I am not going to pick mine because it would biased," said Ward.
1. "Somebody Up There Likes Me"
2. "People laugh at this, but I love ... 'The Champ' "
3. "Requiem for a Heavyweight"
Pablo Schreiber, co-star of FX's new boxing drama, "Lights Out."
1. "Fat City."
2. "The Fighter...The relationship between the two brothers is astonishing, Christian Bale is amazing."
3. "Requiem for a Heavyweight."
Holt McCallany, star of FX's new boxing drama, "Lights Out."
1. "The Set Up," with Robert Ryan.
2. A tie. "Rocky" and "Raging Bull"
3. Another tie. "The Fighter" and "Cinderella Man"
Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight champion of the world:
1. "Lights Out."
2. "The Fighter ... great humor and people were cheering when the hero was fighting for the title, people stood up, they were excited."
3. "When We Were Kings."
Frank Vincent, played Salvy, opposite Robert De Niro in "Raging Bull." He's appeared in numerous other films, including "Goodfellas" and "Casino."
1. Although it was a fantasy, I have to go with "Rocky 1", for the inspirational message.
2. It was a true story and a masterpiece, I have to go with "Raging Bull."
3. The Rocky Graziano story, "Somebody Up There Likes Me," it was Paul Newman at his best.
Joe Gannascoli, played Vito Spattafore on "The Sopranos."
1. "Raging Bull." “I liked the rawness of that film. The acting in it is incredible. What De Niro put himself through to make that film was also incredible. He really showed you the rigors of being a fighter. He also showed you what life after boxing was like."
2. "Requiem for a Heavyweight."
3. "Somebody Up There Likes Me."
Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, former WBA light heavyweight champion, played Billy Fox opposite Robert De Niro in "Raging Bull."
1. "Even if I wasn't in it, I would have to say, "Raging Bull." The way they shot it, in black and white, it was so beautiful."
2. "The Harder They Fall." " With Humphrey Bogart, it was just a great movie.That's just the way boxing was at that time. The underworld had a hand in boxing, they determined who would win and who would lose."
3. "Rocky." "The entire Rocky series was great for boxing. Even if it wasn't real, it was an opportunity for Sly to come in and make those movies. It gave boxing a boost."
Michael Bentt, former WBO heavyweight champion. Played Sonny Liston opposite Will Smith in "Ali," and Herbert Youngblood opposite Johnny Depp in "Public Enemies."
1. "On the Waterfront." Although nary a punch was thrown in a boxing ring in the film, it's one particular actor's performance that really speaks to me more than anything else. And, this is a film stuffed with great actors being directed by a great director. Some may turn up their noses and disqualify it because the film provides no smokey ringside crowds of rabid fight fans dressed to impress, exhorting bloody murder, no ring underdog to root for, and an absence of the 'know-it-all-gym rat' sniffing around for the 'next' second-coming to hang his towel on. Those are all well-known accoutrements of the fight game and fight films. But, if you watch Marlon Brando being 'in and of' the psychology/behavior of a borderline punch-drunk "damn-near was a contender' in 1954's "On the Waterfront," that pretty much ends the conversation. This film rises to the top of the list of my boxing film masterpieces and stands there because Brando's Terry Malloy has a humanity, vulnerability and lack of achievement that is timeless. Walk into a boxing gym or attend any boxing event and you'll come face to face with countless Terry Malloy's. That's more the rule than the exception. Raspy whispers, trying to force out unbroken words from broken bodies that once housed warrior spirits with ego's bursting. Terry might be closer to 'us,' whether we have boxed or not, than we like to think. And that's the lasting importance and brilliance of it. If art mirrors life or vice-versa, then the mirror that Brando and Elia Kazan hold up is a pretty illuminating and unsettling one."
Honorable Mention, in no particular order:
"The Boxer" with Daniel Day Lewis
"Million Dollar Baby," with Hilary Swank
"Raging Bull," with Robert De Niro
And, in another sense, Michael Mann's 'Ali' unearths both the magic and imperfect audacity of Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali while completely setting a new bar for the way in which fights were filmed. Outside of my obvious bias, what Will Smith went through was nothing short of dangerously inspiring. I don't know if there's ever been a more realistically orchestrated or executed group of fights on screen.
A.J. Benza, played L.C. opposite Sylvester Stallone in "Rocky Balboa."
1. "Although "Raging Bull" is a better film, with incredible acting and all the sacrifices Robert De Niro made to literally become Jake LaMotta, and having the great Martin Scorsese at the helm, I still have to say the greatest boxing movie of all-time is "Rocky." Here we are 34 years later and I still drop the remote and stop whatever I'm doing whenever it's on TV. That song is in everybody's heart. That fight is a fight we will all face one day in our lives. Sylvester Stallone did it. Game over. Who doesn't get the chills when they hear the trumpets?"
2. "Raging Bull." America's best actor in his best role. Most realistic. That movie hit all boxing fans right on the button.
3. "Rocky Balboa." Mainly because I'm in it. But I remember being on the set, on the last day, and watching Stallone run the steps for the last time. And when he was done and it was a wrap, no one wanted to leave. Stallone just sat on the steps. And I remember telling him, "You been making us cry for over 30 years. Who does that outside of our own families?"
Jeff Waxman, co-producer, "The Fighter"
2. "Rocky II"
3. "Raging Bull."
"I loved all those movies," said Waxman. "I loved them not just for the boxing, but for the story. With Riocky, it was about going the distance, in this movie ("The Fighter"), Micky Ward had to go the distance, he had to win and he did."
Steve Farhood, boxing analyst for Showtime:
1. "Rocky." "The right movie at the right time. My friend and I saw it in the dead of winter, and we were so pumped up, we ran home two miles through the streets of New York City. By the way, not one of the 347 sequels compares."
2. "Requiem for a Heavyweight."
3. "Million Dollar Baby."
Lou DiBella, boxing promoter, played himself in "Rocky Balboa" and is a producer on "The Fighter."
1. "Rocky." "I think the character of Rocky Balboa is the greatest personafication of the underdog in movie history and it gets to the essence of why people love boixng. I think Rocky Balboa is the most iconic figure every created about boxing."
2. "Rocky II."
3. "Raging Bull."
Al Cole, former IBF cruiserweight champion, play Ernie Terrell, opposite of Will Smith, in "Ali."
1. "When We Were Kings."
2. "Only in America."
3. "Rocky V." "With Tommy Morrison, because it showed the reality of boxing, how a promotor builds guys and steals them from others."
John Scully, former light heavyweight contender and ESPN boxing analyst:
1. "Rocky." "As a professional boxer I can definitely relate to the struggles and the mindset that Stallone's character eminated. Especially the part about wanting to go the distance at all costs, that's some very real stuff right there. A lot of fighters can relate to the underdog.
2. "Rocky II."
3. "Raging Bull."
Mark Breland, Olympic gold medalist and WBA welterweight champion. Has appeared in "The Lords of Discipline," and "Summer of Sam."
1. "Ali." Ali is my favorite fighter and I liked the film very much. They got it right.
3. "The Hurricane."
Jose Rivera, former two-time world champion who played Mark Wahlberg's sparring partner in "The Fighter."
2. "Cinderella Man."
3. "Raging Bull," and I have to put "The Fighter," as tied for third because I am in it.
Junior Jones, former world bantamweight and junior featherweight champion:
1. "All of the "Rocky," movies. I liked the training scenes and the music, too. It allows you to see the hard work and the intensity of a fighter."
2. "Raging Bull."
3. "The Champ."