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Southpaw movie: America's love affair with boxing

Lee Cleveland Updated
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For all intents and purposes, the movie 'Southpaw,' scheduled to release July 24, is already a hit.

The film, as well its star, Jake Gyllenhaal, is generating tremendous buzz and it's not yet June.

Southpaw Plot: In the film, Billy "The Great" Hope, is the light heavyweight champion of the world and is enjoying the spoils of success when a tragedy sends his life into a tailspin, ultimately leaving him at rock bottom.

Down but not out, Billy must find the strength and courage to rebound - as a fighter and man.

So, what is the public's fascination with boxing movies?

Even in Hollywood, no other sport generates as much interest as boxing. Everybody loves Rocky Balboa, Apollo Creed and Clubber Lang and those fictional characters are as mainstream as world leaders.

Over 500 movies have been made about sports with boxing as far and away the biggest draw.

The sport is, as former heavyweight title-holder Frank Bruno once said, "Show business with blood."

The action inside the ring can be violent but not overly savage and the concept is easy to understand; outside the ring, however, the it's one big soap opera.

The creators of All My Children and One Life to Live could have learned much had they been immersed in the fight game.

Moreover, unlike most other sports there's always that element of intrigue in boxing. A fighter who is far behind in a bout can change his fate in a literal instant.

And let's not forget the characters. The sport has been privy to some interesting personalities, inside and outside the ring. Boxers, trainers and promoters, unlike football, baseball and basketball players and coaches, have no allegiance to an association and can often get away with being themselves without suffering the consequences of a league penalty.

In the end, perhaps the fascination of prizefighting is its mixture of simplicity and complexity?

Maybe Jim Lampley, HBO's longtime boxing announcer, said it best:

"Because the sport is fundamentally simple but the circumstances that surround it are inevitably and chronically complicated, it's perfect movie fodder."


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