5 GREAT BOX­ING DOCS

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - INTERVIEW -

WHEN WE WERE KINGS (1996) Well, ob­vi­ously. Leon Gast’s joy­ous film cap­tures the mo­ment when Muham­mad Ali passed from mere mor­tal to an avatar for the ages. Re­lat­ing the great fight with George Fore­man from 1974, the pic­ture rev­els in talk­ing heads such as Nor­man Mailer, George Plimp­ton and Spike Lee.

SOUTH PAW: THE FRAN­CIS BAR­RETT STORY

(1999) One of the high­lights of the 1996 Olympics was Fran­cie Bar­rett’s (above) emer­gence as a fighter and per­son­al­ity. The boxer car­ried the flag at the open­ing cer­e­mony and be­came an icon of the Trav­eller com­mu­nity. Liam Mc­Grath’s doc is a great primer.

UN­FOR­GIV­ABLE BLACKNESS: THE RISE AND FALL OF JACK JOHN­SON

(2004) The in­de­fati­ga­ble Ken Burns tack­les the sad story of Jack John­son, first African-Amer­i­can Heavy­weight Box­ing Cham­pion of the World, in a typ­i­cally rig­or­ous and grip­ping film for PBS. Great score by Wyn­ton Marsalis. Ef­fec­tive voiceover from Sa­muel L Jack­son.

RING OF FIRE: THE EMILE GRIFFITH STORY

(2005) The most likely sub­ject of Lenny Abra­ham­son’s next fea­ture, Emile Griffith (above) is best known for a no­to­ri­ous fight against Benny Paret in 1962. Paret, who had taunted Griffith, a bi­sex­ual, with ho­mo­pho­bic re­marks, died 10 days af­ter los­ing the bout. A rig­or­ous doc fea­tur­ing top-notch con­trib­u­tors.

SAVIOURS

(2008) A decade be­fore Katie, Ross Whi­taker de­liv­ered this stir­ring film fol­low­ing three fight­ers at the ad­mirable St Saviour’s Olympic Box­ing Academy in north Dublin. The film is at least as valu­able as a snap­shot of Dorset Street and sur­round­ings in the open­ing years of the 21st cen­tury.

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