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10 Must-Watch Inspirational Movies on Boxing Like 'Rocky'

Updated on December 5, 2016
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A young software engineer passionate about being a writer, sharing thoughts, and spreading knowledge.

"If there's magic in boxing, it's the magic of fighting battles beyond endurance, beyond cracked ribs, ruptured kidneys and detached retinas. It's the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you" - Eddie Scrap, Million Dollar Baby

Boxing movies have always been inspiring. They teach us how to succeed against all odds and almost all of them have happy endings. What I love about boxing movies is the struggle and emotions that flow in the background of every success story that the audience/fans tend to ignore. These movies make us realize that nothing is impossible given we are ready to put up all the efforts required.

Rocky (1976)
Rocky (1976)

Best boxing movies like Rocky (1976)

Rocky is as inspirational movie as any other. It is an epic saga of a lowly boxer achieving the grandest of the prizes. Rocky is not only inspirational on-screen but also off-screen. The struggles Sylvester Stallone did to get the movie produced and what a hit movie proved out to be is an inspiration in its own.

Rocky is a classic boxing movie with an incredible boxing match and full of emotions. It is arguably the best boxing movie out there. Here is my list of top 10 boxing movies similar to Rocky:

Raging Bull(1980)

Based on the true story of former middleweight boxing champion Jake Lamotta, this top-notch boxing drama will touch to the very core

When Jake LaMotta steps into a boxing ring and obliterates his opponent, he's a prizefighter. But when he treats his family and friends the same way, he's a ticking time bomb, ready to go off at any moment. Though LaMotta wants his family's love, something always seems to come between them. Perhaps it's his violent bouts of paranoia and jealousy. This kind of rage helped make him a champ, but in real life, he winds up in the ring alone.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

A big, unforgettable masterpiece from Clint Eastwood, this movie is a total knockout

Wanting to learn from the best, aspiring boxer Maggie Fitzgerald wants Frankie Dunn to train her. At the outset he flatly refuses saying he has no interest in training a girl. Frankie leads a lonely existence, alienated from his only daughter and having few friends. Maggie's rough around the edges but shows a lot of grit in the ring and he eventually relents. Maggie not only proves to be the boxer he always dreamed of having under his wing but a friend who fills the great void he's had in his life. Maggie's career skyrockets but an accident in the ring leads her to ask Frankie for one last favor.

The Fighter (2010)

Thrilling and entertaining, The Fighter is one of the most inspirational boxing drama like Rocky

Known as the "Pride of Lowell (Massachusetts)", Dicky Eklund Jr.'s primary claim to fame is his 1978 boxing match with Sugar Ray Leonard, where Eklund knocked down Leonard, who eventually won the match. In 1996, Eklund, now a crack addict, is in front of the cameras as an HBO film crew is making a documentary about him, the focus he believes (falsely) to be his boxing comeback at close to age 40. For the past ten years, he has also acted as one of the two trainers for his decade younger half brother, Micky Ward, who is known primarily as a brawler used by other boxers as a stepping stone to better boxers. Both their careers are managed by their domineering mother Alice Ward who believes it better to keep it all in the family. Because of his crack addiction, Dicky is unreliable. A move by Dicky and Alice at one of Micky's fights makes Micky come to the realization that his boxing career is being stalled and perhaps even under-minded by the two, who are only looking out for themselves. This stance is fostered by Micky's new girlfriend, college drop-out and now local bartender Charlene Fleming. As Micky tries boxing life without Dicky and Alice - much to their anger - he has to figure out where they fit into his life, especially as they do not get along with Charlene, if at all. These decisions become all the more important as Micky moves up the ranks and is given a shot at the world welterweight championship.

Cinderella Man (2005)

Fluent storytelling and marvelous performances, Cindrella Man is almost as good as Rocky

In the North American Great Depression, the former successful boxer James Braddock loses all his possessions and savings with the crash of the stock market. His beloved wife Mae Braddock and their three children survive to starvation and lack of heating and the daily difficulties supported by their love. In 1934, when Jim's coach and manager Joe Gould offers to him a chance to return to boxing, he becomes the symbol of hope of hopeless people in a ruined nation.

Southpaw (2015)

Southpaw is the king of all cliches, but still it is both entertaining and inspiring

Billy Hope (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) is the undisputed light-heavyweight boxing champion of the world. He is unbeaten over a career of 43 fights. He is happily married to beautiful Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and has a young daughter, Leila (Oona Laurence). His life seems perfect, but then, during a fracas with a rival boxer, his wife is shot and killed. They had known each other since they were 12 years old, and now the bottom has fallen out of his world. The death of his wife sends Billy into a downward spiral, resulting in him being barred from professional boxing for a year, the loss of his house and almost all his possessions and, most painfully, the loss of his daughter to the custody of Social Services. In order to gain back his daughter and restart his life, he seeks out a particular trainer, Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker). Now he is starting his life again, at the bottom.

Creed (2015)

A movie capable of competing with Rocky in any ring pound to pound

Adonis Johnson lost his mother when he was young and would get into constant trouble and end up in foster care or juvenile detention. One day a woman goes to see him and tells him that her late husband is his father. And her husband's boxing great, Apollo Creed. She would take him in and educate him but he feels the need to be a boxer like his father. So he moves to Philadelphia and approaches Rocky Balboa and asks Rocky to train him. Rocky tries to talk him out of it but it's something he needs to do. Eventually Rocky offers to train him and when he beats a great boxer and his connection to Apollo is revealed, he is offered a chance to fight a world champion and all he needs to do is take the name Creed.

The Hurricane (1999)

A beautiful and uplifting movie, Denzel Washington delivers a brilliant performance in this biopic

This film tells the story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, an African-American man who rose above his troubled youth to become a top contender for the middle-weight boxing title. However, his dreams are shattered when he is accused of a triple murder, and is convicted to three natural-life terms. Despite becoming a cause celebre and his dogged efforts to prove his innocence through his autobiography, the years of fruitless efforts have left him discouraged. This changes when an African-American boy and his Canadian mentors read his book and are convinced of his innocence enough to work for his exoneration. However, what Hurricane and his friends learn is that this fight puts them against a racist establishment that profited from this travesty and have no intention of seeing it reversed.

Girlfight (2000)

One of the best movies on women boxing, Girlfight is joyful and thought-provoking

At 18, Diana has a chip on her shoulder; she's close to expulsion from high school for fighting, her mother is dead, her dad is surly, the popular girls at school set her teeth on edge, she knows men can cause pain. When she picks up her younger brother at a Brooklyn gym where he boxes to please his father, she decides she wants to train. Hector, a coach, reluctantly agrees to teach her. It's soon clear to him that Diana has talent; he pushes her. She spends time with another young fighter, Adrian, who has a girlfriend, but Diana intrigues him and stirs real feelings he tries to articulate. She, too, must accommodate her toughness and ironic detachment to her feelings for him.

Ali (2001)

A biopic on life of Muhammad Ali, this movie marks one of the best performances by Will Smith

Muhammad Ali from 1964 to 1974, told in three braided threads. The boxer: from becoming champion to regaining the championship. Religion and politics: Cassius Clay becomes a Black Muslim, truncates a friendship with Malcolm X, perhaps is Elijah Muhammad's pawn, refuses induction into the US military, and faces a five year prison sentence while his case goes to the Supreme Court. Family: he marries twice and by 1974 marriage two is strained, defends his white trainer, has a brother in Bundini Brown, and is wily with Howard Cosell. Throughout, Ali keeps his own counsel: in the ring, at the induction center when he won't step forward, and in friendship, love, and victory.

Bleed for This (2016)

Bleed for This is a rarity of boxing movies that actually get boxing and Miles Teller is superb in the role of Vicky Paz

The plot revolves around the inspirational story of World Champion Boxer Vinny Pazienza who, after a near fatal car crash which left him not knowing if he'd ever walk again, made one of sport's most incredible comebacks.

Which of these inspirational boxing movies are you gonna watch next?

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