Best Documentaries in Sports History
Great Sporting Documentarries
1. When we were Kings: This film was shot in 1974 in Zaire, Africa and it covered all of the events leading up to The Rumble in the Jungle between Muhammad Ali and Champion George Foreman. Watch the boxers interviews, workouts and predictions from people in the know. Do not watch the fight until you see the build up. Ali is the best heavyweight boxer in history without a doubt. This program is a must see whether you like boxing or not because it is detailed as it gets and it will get you familiar with Big George Foreman and hooked on Mr. Muhammad Ali.
2. Hoop Dreams: This film showcases to African American school mates with dreams of the NBA. The film not only documents their lives on the court but also their real lives and hardships such as drugs, money issues and self doubt. Overcoming obstacles makes this film a must see in my opinion. Whether you like basketball or not Hoop Dreams will still leave your emotions over whelmed. I seen it as a child and it touched me deeply at the time.
3. Tyson: This film delves deeper into the life of Iron Mike Tyson than any other because it is narrated by Mike Tyson himself. It is humorous, horrendous and it will make you happy, mad and sad all at once. A graphically real life look into Tyson's brain. He details his life growing up all the way to the present time in his life. It is riveting to say the least hearing some of Tyson's inner thoughts. This documentary is moving and at the same time rated R which is to be expected in an uncut Mike Tyson interview.
4. Beyond the Mat: This film goes into the lives of Mick Foley, Terry Funk and Jake The Snake Roberts and their lives outside the ropes. Steroids, drugs and backstabbing are all just part of the game in this documentary. It shows past the ring and into the locker room, executive offices and in the wrestlers homes. If your a wrestling fan this is for you because it really is behind the scenes. This film really shows stuff that is previously been unknown to hardcore fans of the sport.
5. Pumping Iron: This documentary film focuses on the Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia weight lifting games in 1975. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the guy who played the Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno. The film shows the two guys rivalry and their lives outside of competing. It shows some very interesting scenes and compelling interviews throughout.
6. Dogtown and Z-Boys: Sean Penn narrates this film about skateboarding and what it takes to get to the top. The film follows would be pro skate boarders as they practice and prepare for dangerous moments on the boards. It shows preparation and several wrecks along the way. This film does not pull the punches.
7. Unforgivable Blackness: This film describes the life of the first black heavyweight champion in boxing history, Jack Johnson. Johnson faced constant racism while reining at the top but instead of bowing down he snubbed his nose at white America. Good for him because he should have. Johnson is one of the best defensive boxers ever and one of the best heavyweight fighters in the history of the sport.
8. Olympia: The Summer Olympics in Germany took place in 1936 amid Hitler's reign but this film is not about that. This movie shows the pride and respect learned from playing in the Olympics. Honor and fight for your country is the theme of this Olympic goodwill film.
9. Murderball: This film documents a rivalry between Canada and America in Wheel Chair Rugby, a sport that is part of the Paraolympic games. Interviews are used along with raw footage of the actual games to describe how hard it is for these athletes have to try in order to succeed.
10. Riding Giants: This film focuses on a Surfer and his wild ride to the top and it also shows skateboarding. Learn what it takes along with video footage of this guy ignoring little waves but waiting on the tidal wave to ride and he does it.
* Let me know what your favorite sports documentary is by leaving your thoughts in the comments box located at the bottom of this page.
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Location of the Rumble in the Jungle
Beyond the Mat Trailer
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When We Were Kings
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When we were Kings Trailer
Documentary vs. Films
Films almost always stretch the truth even in a movie based on a true story. Documentaries use pure facts and interviews from the person being documented as well as from people who knows them. Films use actors but documentaries use real people and they are real, pure and simple.
© 2012 Buster Johnson