Last night saw the passing of a boxing legend, Smokin’ Joe Frazier at the age of 67. Frazier’s story, like so many other boxing stories, was a remarkable one. Raised on a farm, he spent seven years beating on a homemade heavy bag hanging from an oak tree. He went on to win Olympic gold medals and heavyweight championships, becoming one of the most iconic figures in a sport filled with icons.
His career, like many others, was filled with vitriol and controversy, but upon news of his terminal struggle with liver cancer only a few days ago, the public and his contemporaries were quick to set aside their criticisms and differences in honoring this boxing legend.
In the wake of Smokin’ Joe’s passing, we offer up eight film fighters who’s fictional careers weren’t as rich and interesting as Frazier’s.
Not going for subtlety here, folks. Rocky is one of the most beloved characters, not just in boxing movies, not just in American film, but possibly in American culture. As such, he gets the first spot on this list. If you don’t know why, please run, don’t walk to the video store (if one still exists by the time you read this) and rent Rocky I-IV.
The man trains by chopping wood and punching meat. He’s tenderizing as he trains! Also, he ended communism in Rocky IV, so we all owe him a pretty big debt of gratitude.
Raging Bull’s Jake LaMotta is not a likeable character, but he sure is an enthralling one. His rage, coupled with his complex and flawed relationships with his own family, makes him a ticking time bomb who lives up to the title of the film. Based on the bio of Jake La Motta (notice the space), the film was widely praised, though the violent content served as something of a turn-off for many moviegoers.
Beyond that, Robert De Niro’s weight gain for this film remains the gold standard for physical transformations for a role (besides Fat Mac from Always Sunny, of course).