Muhammad Ali, the three-time heavyweight champion who proclaimed himself “the Greatest” and then became the greatest boxer that ever lived has died at age 74. Ali suffered from Parkinson’s Disease for years but ultimately passed due to septic shock from natural causes. In his honor, we’ve highlighted the best boxing films of all time.
A public memorial service and funeral procession will be held Friday for Ali in his hometown of Louisville, Ky., where he will be buried. Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to eulogize Ali and Actor Billy Crystal and Broadcaster Bryant Gumbel are also are scheduled to speak.
Ali was surrounded by his family when he died on June 3rd and fans were told by family spokesperson Bob Gunnell that Ali, who was Muslim, developed the plans for his funeral years ago. The service will include an interfaith memorial service with clerics from several religions. Ali will then be buried in a private ceremony in Louisville.
In honor of one of the most iconic sports figures of our time, we’ve highlighted some of the best boxing films about the sport he loved. It’s only fitting that the list starts with…
- Ali (2001) The biographical film starring Will Smith follows Muhammed Ali’s life through his many heavyweight champion titles, as well as his banishment and return to the ring, while also shining a light on the social and political situations of the time period.
- Rocky (1976) Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), a small-time boxer from Philadelphia, enters the fight of his life by taking on heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).
- Raging Bull (1980) The Martin Scoresese film follows the emotionally self-destructive boxer, Jake LaMotta’s (Robert DeNiro), journey through life as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring, destroys his life outside it.
- The Fighter (2010) A look at the early years of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), a boxer from Massachusetts who was trained by his brother Dicky (Christian Bale), before going pro in the mid 1980s.
- Million Dollar Baby (2004) Hilary Swank stars as Maggie Fitzgerald, a young and promising fighter who gets help refining her skills from reluctant trainer Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood). The two eventually form a close bond both on and off the ring, while Fitzgerald proves that no matter where you come from, anyone can achieve their dreams.
- Cinderella Man (2005) Based on true events, the story of James Braddock (Russell Crowe), a once-promising boxer sidelined by an old injury who returns to the ring to help his family during the Depression of the 1930s.
- Southpaw (2015) Once the king of the boxing world, Billy “The Great” Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) finds himself hitting rock bottom after a tragedy takes his wife. In order to get his daughter back from child protective services, he must enlist the help of amateur boxer trainer Tick Willis (Forrest Whitaker) and fight to reclaim his life.
- Against the Ropes (2004) A fictional story inspired by North America’s most famous female boxing promoter, Jackie Kallen (Meg Ryan). It details her struggle to survive and succeed in a male dominated sport. She becomes a successful boxing manager by taking on amateur boxer Luther Shaw (Omar Epps).
- The Hurricane (1999) Denzel Washington is Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a man whose dreams of winning the middleweight boxing title were destroyed when he was arrested along with another man for the murders of 3 people in a New Jersey bar. Wrongfully accused, Carter and John Artis were sentenced to 3 life terms in prison.
- Creed (2015) The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Johnson), the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.