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Boxing at the Movies: Kings of the Ring (2013)

Danny Leigh explores the enduring popularity of the boxing film.


Angus McIntyre


Danny Leigh


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Complete credited cast:
Danny Leigh Danny Leigh ... Himself - Presenter
Sarah Churchwell Sarah Churchwell ... Herself - Professor of American Studies, University of East Anglia
Martin Scorsese ... Himself - Director (archive footage)
Thelma Schoonmaker ... Herself - Film Editor
Richard Price ... Himself - Author & Screenwriter
Keith Mitchell Keith Mitchell ... Himself - Boxing Correspondent, The Guardian & The Observer
Lennox Lewis ... Himself - Heavyweight Champion of the World, 2004
Leger Grindon Leger Grindon ... Himself - Writer, Knockout
Ian Christie Ian Christie ... Himself - Film Historian
John G. Avildsen ... Himself - Director, Rocky (as John G Avildsen)
Sylvester Stallone ... Himself - Screenwriter & Actor (archive footage)
Leon Gast ... Himself - Director, When We Were Kings
James Toback ... Himself - Director


Danny Leigh explores the elemental drama of the boxing movie. For over 120 years, boxing and film have been entwined and the fight film has been used to address powerful themes such as redemption, race and corruption. Film writer Leigh examines how each generation's fight films have reflected their times and asks why film-makers from Stanley Kubrick to Martin Scorsese have returned time and again to tales of the ring. Interviewees include former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, Rocky director John G Avildsen and Thelma Schoonmaker, editor of Raging Bull.

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Documentary | Sport







Release Date:

3 March 2013 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

BBC Scotland See more »
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Technical Specs



Color | Black and White (archive footage)
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Did You Know?


Features Leonard-Cushing Fight (1894) See more »


Intermezzo (from Cavalleria Rusticana)
Performed by Pietro Mascagni
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User Reviews

Show-business with blood
27 February 2016 | by Prismark10See all my reviews

Boxing and film goes back to the early days of cinema with footage surviving from Edison's days.

Boxing has always been a popular subject for movies because you can have stories of not only pugilists slugging it out in the ring but stories of crooked managers and weak willed boxers.

Danny Leigh examines the popularity of boxing films but also how boxers transgress themselves into film by way of documentaries such as Muhammed Ali in When we were Kings or playing themselves as Mike Tyson does in The Hangover films.

We go through some of the most popular boxing films. On the Waterfront, Rocky, Raging Bull, Million Dollar Baby. We have an academic explaining the relevance of the films and the examination of race, gender and films as well. In the early years, there was resistance of showing footage of actual black boxers beating up white boxers and movies substituted stories of black boxers with whites ones.

However the documentary felt a little empty. Leigh might be a boxing fan as well as a film buff but so many interesting boxing films were ignored, those that appear in different genres such as comedy. There is a rich tapestry out there and although interesting to see Kubrick's take on a boxing film, we needed more diverse nuggets like that.

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