The world of boxing is often seen as an exemplary display of physical strength, endurance, and emotional fortitude. Throughout history, the sport has been depicted in countless films, from the classic Rocky franchise to the recent Creed series. But which of these films deserves a place among the best boxing movies ever made? To answer that question, we have compiled a comprehensive list of the top boxing films of all time, ranked in order of excellence.
These Best Boxing movies are not streaming in your country?
Any of our picks not streaming in your country? ExpressVPN unlocks Reelgood and all of your streaming services, giving you access to all movies and TV shows from around the world. Stream them from anywhere with a 30-day money-back trial from ExpressVPN.
- Unblock Streaming with ExpressVPN (3 months free for Reelgood users!)
- Connect to a US or UK server via ExpressVPN.
- Let ExpressVPN run in the background as you watch all of your movies and TV shows, securely and with no throttling or bandwidth limits.
- Raging Bull (1980)
Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull is widely considered to be the greatest boxing movie of all time. Starring Robert De Niro, the film follows the life of world champion boxer Jake LaMotta, depicting his rise and fall due to his violent temper and struggles with addiction. The film is both a stunning technical achievement and an emotionally devastating work of art, with De Niro delivering one of the most iconic performances of our time.
- Rocky (1976)
The Rocky franchise has come to symbolize the spirit of perseverance and hard work, and the original 1976 film is undoubtedly its greatest achievement. Starring Sylvester Stallone as the titular character, Rocky is the story of an underdog boxer who, against all odds and despite his limitations, achieves his dream of becoming a world champion.
- Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Million Dollar Baby is a powerful drama about a female boxer, Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), and her mentor, Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood). The film follows Maggie’s journey from poverty to fame and fortune as she strives to become the first female world champion boxer in history. Despite its slow pacing, Million Dollar Baby is a stirring and emotionally resonant film, with outstanding performances from its leads.
- The Fighter (2010)
The Fighter is a biographical drama about boxer Micky Ward, starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale. The film chronicles the rise and fall of the boxer as he navigates his life’s personal and professional difficulties. The Fighter is an inspirational tale of overcoming obstacles and never giving up, with an Oscar-winning performance from Bale as Ward’s half-brother and trainer.
- Creed (2015)
The 2015 film Creed is a spin-off of the Rocky franchise, starring Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed, the son of Rocky’s former rival and friend, Apollo Creed. As Adonis trains with Rocky to become a world champion boxer, the film explores the themes of fatherhood and legacy, culminating in an emotionally charged finale that pays tribute to the original Rocky.
- When We Were Kings (1996)
When We Were Kings is a documentary about the legendary 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. The film captures the atmosphere of the fight, the political tensions of the time, and Ali’s inspiring performance in the ring. When We Were Kings is an important work of sports filmmaking, and its Oscar-winning score is a testament to its power.
- Ali (2001)
Ali is a biopic about the life of Muhammad Ali, directed by Michael Mann and starring Will Smith. The film follows Ali’s journey from a small-time boxer to a world heavyweight champion and cultural icon, depicting his personal and professional struggles. Smith’s performance is highly praised, and the film is an important testament to Ali’s legacy.
- Southpaw (2015)
Southpaw is a powerful drama about boxer Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal), whose life spirals downward after tragedy strikes. The film follows Hope’s quest to reclaim his former glory and regain custody of his daughter through intense physical and psychological training. Gyllenhaal delivers a truly stunning performance, making Southpaw one of the best boxing films of the last decade.
- The Hurricane (1999)
The Hurricane is a biographical drama about Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer wrongfully convicted of murder. Denzel Washington stars as Carter, delivering a powerful and inspiring performance. The film is a moving exploration of the power of hope and determination and its impact on the lives of others.
- Rocky Balboa (2006)
Rocky Balboa is the sixth and final installment in the Rocky franchise, starring Stallone as the titular character. In the film, Rocky returns to the ring for a final fight against the reigning champion, Mason “The Line” Dixon (Antonio Tarver). Rocky Balboa is a fitting conclusion to the series, with Stallone delivering a heartfelt and inspiring performance.
The films on this list represent some of the greatest boxing films of all time, highlighting the power of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Whether it’s the inspiring story of an underdog boxer who achieves his dream or a biography of a champion boxer who overcomes injustice, these films will leave a lasting impression.