“Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up.”—Muhammad Ali
Everyone deals with obstacles making you second guess your instincts. We are resilient beings who have the ability to deal with a lot of physical and emotional pain. Our responses to these hardships come from your positive mindset, will to persevere, and your will to FIGHT. All of us have the will to go the distance and keep FIGHTING. When you get knocked down, do you lay down for the count or do you pull yourself up by your boot straps, dust yourself and keep moving forward? Do you have the will to survive and just keep fighting? If you do, get in the squared circle of cinema, put up your dukes and get ready for Champs (2015).
Champs is a documentary examining the rise of three of the most successful boxers of our time; Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson and Bernard Hopkins. We are introduced to our protagonists during their struggling early years in America’s inner cities. The three pugilists (many before and after them too) choose the sport of boxing as a last resort in order to survive their environments in hopes of stability and finding self-worth. We follow these fighters from youth to present day; discussing tragedy, troubles, maturity, prison, substance abuse, and humility.
Champs was written and directed by Bert Marcus of How to Make Money Selling Drugs (2012). Champs is a unique character study that sees men with an odd and dangerous occupation focusing on the real life obstacles which each man must face from those around him, and fighting his toughest opponent at times…himself. It does address the heartbreaking reality of celebrity/athlete worship in our communities, leaches that ride on boxer’s coattails and the people (social vampires) out there who fake the simple act of being a friend to use, manipulate, and destroy another human being for their own benefit. Champs shares plenty of archival clips and photos spotlighting the subject’s personal and professional lives in and out of the ring.
Champs highlights the social and racial inequality that still drives the sport, a sports system that doesn’t provide adequate support for the boxers during or after they leave the spotlight. Champs did effectively expose how corrupt boxing has always been, and without the proper oversight and regulations put in place to protect all parties involved, the sport will be infected with promotors and managers that are borderline criminals.
This film has a wide array of interviews from within the boxing world and those from the outside, but still provides valuable insight on the world of prize fighting. Director Spike Lee of Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth (2013), director Ron Howard of Cinderella Man (2005) actor Denzel Washington of The Hurricane (1999), and actor Mark Wahlberg from The Fighter (2010), share valuable information and shows they are knowledgeable boxing enthusiasts. The film is race heavy, while establishing a valid point of stating how every ethnic group had a moment to rule the boxing world even if they were facing heavy discrimination in and out of the ring. Overall, it was very insightful and if you are a fan of the sport, Champs will be enjoyable for 12 rounds. However, if you are still new to the world of boxing cinema, also check out, Rocky (1976), Raging Bull (1980) or Someone up There Likes Me (1956).
So, if you find yourself running into brick walls in your professional or personal life, keep pushing forward. If you find yourself down for the count—get up and keep FIGHTING! Like the great “Italian Stallion” Rocky Balboa once mumbled, “It ain’t how hard you hit…it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. It’s about how much you can take and keep moving forward!”