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These movies pack quite a punch.
If you’re looking for the most well-known boxing movies in history, you’re probably not going to find them on Netflix. You won’t find any of the Rocky films, much less Raging Bull. You won’t find Million Dollar Baby (at least not at the moment). Or Cinderella Man, or When We Were Kings. But there are still a plenty of boxing movies on Netflix, the kind that make you want to put on gloves and step into the ring. These movies and documentaries will give you an appreciation for the sport’s biggest stars and for the kind of drama, both real and imagined, that they often produce.
The best boxing movies on Netflix
If you’ve heard of any of these boxing movies on Netflix, it’s probably this 2015 drama. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rachel McAdams, Southpaw tells the story of a light heavyweight champion named Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) whose wife is shot and killed as he tangles with a boxing rival. He eventually loses his career, his house, and his young daughter. He tries to rebuild his life and win back custody of his kid while teaming up with the stereotypically crusty boxing trainer, played by Forest Whitaker. It’s not the best boxing movie you’ll ever watch, but it goes 12 rounds.
This documentary follows three boxers—the raw high-school kid who’s just beginning his career, the amateur who’s dreaming of Olympic glory, and the former world champion who’s trying to revitalize his career—and shows how they’re making their way through the sport. The underbelly of boxing is a nasty, cutthroat game filled with shifty politics and shady figures. This documentary shows all of that and presents, for better or for worse, how the sport is run from the inside.
Mike Tyson has had one of the most unique careers in the history of the sport. He was one of the most frightening heavyweight champions ever. He suffered one of the biggest upset losses in all of sports, was convicted of rape, and eventually became a cultural touchstone while playing air drums in The Hangover. He’s starred on Broadway, and more than a decade after his career was over, he’s one of the most relevant ex-athletes around. In this 2008 documentary, Tyson speaks about his history, his failures, and how he’s trying to be a better person. Tyson has had a difficult life—and he’s made life difficult for many others—but this film shines a light on who Tyson is and who he wants to be.
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This action thriller starring Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard tells the tale of a man who sells counterfeit items in New York City and begins participating in no-holds-barred, bare-knuckled fights. He’s a good fighter with a great punch, but he might be no match for his love interest in the movie, played by Zulay Henao. It might not be one of Tatum’s finer movies, but as Boston.com wrote in its review, Tatum’s “intensity … also makes you think about young Stallone, Brando, and Rourke.” Just don’t expect Rocky or On the Waterfront.
5) Hands of Stone
You can watch Robert De Niro in a boxing movie on Netflix, but it’s not Raging Bull. Instead, it’s this 2016 biopic, which tells the story of Roberto Duran—one of the greatest fighters of all time—his illustrious career, and how he returned to the sport after one of the lowest moments of his life. The movie got mediocre reviews, but it’s always a treat to watch De Niro, who plays Duran’s trainer, act near a boxing ring, and the movie’s fight scenes are solid.
Women’s boxing is more popular than it’s ever been before, and one reason is Claressa Shields. This 91-minute documentary tells the story of Shields as a 17-year-old and her quest for Olympic gold. Since turning professional, Shields has become the best American female fighter, and she’s main-evented a card on Showtime, the first time a woman has headlined a show on a premium cable network. Eventually, Shields could be viewed as the best female fighter ever, and it’s certainly worth learning how she got her start in the sport.
7) The Trials of Muhammad Ali
The best-known fighter in history, Muhammad Ali was the longtime heavyweight champion and a divisive spokesman for racial equality in the 1960s. He lost more than three years of his career after refusing to serve in the Vietnam Year. This 2013 documentary doesn’t focus so much on his boxing career. Instead, it painstakingly shows how far he was willing to go to make life better for the African-American community.
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8) Saala Khadoos
A 2016 Bollywood release that is in Hindi with English subtitles, the drama follows a former fighter named Adi Tomar who once hungered for boxing stardom but was betrayed by his coach and ultimately became a shell of a broken man. He’s offered redemption in the form of an Indian women’s boxing team, and he eventually finds a potential star in Madhi, who hails from a poor fishing community and is deeply skeptical of why Tomar has taken an interest in her. In its review, the New York Times wrote that the film “has an appropriately grimy B-movie look that doesn’t try to make the city spick-and-span,” which is actually perfect for the sport of boxing and all of its soot and muck.
List of boxing movies on Netflix
Here are the rest of the boxing movies available on Netflix, as of this writing.
- Anthony Joshua: The Road to Klitschko
- Dawg Fight
- Broken Word Hero
- Tiger Blood In Mouth
- The Challenger
- Back In the Day
- Sadece Sen
- A Heavy Heart
Need more ideas? Here are our Netflix guides for the best war movies, documentaries, anime, indie flicks, true crime, food shows, Westerns, and movies based on true stories streaming right now. There are also sad movies guaranteed to make you cry, weird movies to melt your brain, and standup specials when you really need to laugh. Or check out Flixable, a search engine for Netflix.
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.