Boxing has always had a special place in my life. I've never boxed or been personally involved in the sport, but as a fan it's something my dad and I shared a love for as I was growing up. As a kid in the 1970s, we would watch all those big Muhammad Ali event fights and he would also teach me about the history of the sport. Growing up in Philadelphia, I learned about local heroes like Sonny Liston and Smokin' Joe Frazier.
"Champs" is a new boxing documentary that focuses on the life of boxers and showcases the mental struggles they face, in addition to the physical obstacles. I enjoyed how the movie really offered insight into the process required to achieve success. The theme that was repeated over and over, with fascinating interviews with boxing legends like Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao and Sugar Ray Leonard, was how boxing literally saved their lives. It was a moving and spiritual portrayal of these men usually seen only as violent warriors.
"Champs" is the directorial debut of filmmaker Bert Marcus and I think it's a must-see not just for boxing fans, not just for sports fans, but fans of the human condition, the struggle of life. Marcus has been in the film business as a producer, he produced "Columbus Day" with Kevin Spacey and has made two films with "Entourage" star Adrian Grenier and Oscar-nominee Matthew Cooke for HBO. His first work as a director is beautiful to watch, the interviews are interesting, the historical footage is fascinating, and the boxing and training segments are amazing.
The project is narrated by Mario Lopez, who may be better known for his TV hosting and acting, but he's a serious boxer. In addition to narrating the film, it documents the process as Lopez trains for a real fight and this story adds a cool dramatic element to the documentary. Mario Lopez is a serious fighter and his experiences and insight added a great dimension to the interviews. The dramatic process of watching him train for a real fight, against a serious professional fighter, was also exciting. The quality of the cinematography in capturing Mario's will and determination to train and (hopefully) win is also flawless.
In addition to the great boxers featured, the film was deep with Hollywood heavyweights who are boxing fans and most of whom have been in big boxing movies. It was cool to see Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, Ron Howard and Denzel Washington talk about their own love and respect for the sport.
"Champs" was produced by Bert Marcus Productions, and directed by Bert Marcus. The producers are Grant Jolly, Bert Marcus and Mario Lopez, who also narrates the film. The film has not yet been released and the producers are currently in the process of confirming distribution .
As a kid growing up in Philadelphia, Freddy Sherman followed the sport of boxing with his father and never missed a major televised bout. He continued to follow the sport throughout the Mike Tyson era and has expanded his fighting interest into UFC and MMA, in addition to traditional boxing. You can follow Freddy Sherman on Twitter - @thefredsherman
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