ESPN Classic Ringside
ESPN Classic's Ringside is a 2-to-6-hour special that brings viewers original footage of classic fights, interspersed with added context, perspective, stories and analysis from some of the most notable personalities in boxing.
Hosted by ESPN's Brian Kenny and venerable writer and historian Bert Randolph Sugar, the original Ringside segments are filmed on location from the legendary Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn where Muhammad Ali, Jake LaMotta, Roberto Duran and many others have trained.
Upcoming Ringside episodes include:
Muhammad Ali - The Final Chapter
Mon. July 9 (12 am ET)
Muhammad Ali - Banned from Boxing
Sat. July 14 (8 pm ET)
Little Big Men
Mon. July 16 (12 am ET)
Sugar Ray Robinson - Poetry in Motion
Mon. July 23 (2 am ET)
Tyson - Champion
Mon. August 6 (12 am ET)
Boxing and HollywoodGoing all the way back to the end of the last-last century, to the 1890's, when Thomas Alva Edison's "kinetograph" was in its infancy, one of the very first movies made by Edison was the exhibition boxing match between then-heavyweight champion James J. Corbett and local amateur boxer Peter Courtney. Since that day some 133 years ago, more films about the sports of boxing have been made than any other sport.
The reason why more boxing movies have been made than all other sports is really quite simple: It is far easier to frame two people than the complex make-up of five, nine or eleven in a team game. And the fact that the two combatants, like gunfighters in the final shootout, provide the potential for great dramatic and symbolic potential; psychological struggle ("Raging Bull" and "Champion"); social issues ("The Great White Hope" and "Somebody Up There Likes Me"); the dual siren songs of money and women ("Body and Soul"); redemption ("The Champ" and "Cinderella Man"); any man can ("Rocky") man's inhumanity to man ("The Harder They Fall"); and any one of a hundred other themes that can be painted on the big screen's "canvas".
Granted, not all boxing movies are title contenders. Noted sportswriter Allen Barra remembers watching a screening of "Rocky IV" with legendary trainer Eddie Futch. Sometimes during the movie Barra looked over to see Futch, hands in front of face, watching the movie through his parted fingers. Later, when asked if he would support a movement to ban boxing, Futch replied, "No, but I certainly would support a movement to ban boxing movies."
However, there are more than a few "coulda been a contenders" for best boxing movies of all time. And here is a list of Classic "Ringside's" All-Time Top Ten:
1. Body and Soul (1947)
2. Raging Bull (1980)
3. The Harder They fall (1956)
4. Rocky I (1976)
5. Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962)
6. Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956)
7. The Great White Hope (1970)
8. Champion (1949)
9. Fat City (1972)
10. Cinderella Man (2006)
Join us Saturday, Sept. 1st at 6 p.m. ET when Brian Kenny and yours truly host a panel of Hollywood heavyweights -- including Kris Kristofferson, Carl Weathers, Ron Shelton and others -- to discuss the best and the worst of "Hollywood and Boxing."
--Bert Randolph Sugar
Bert Randolph Sugar, known as "the guru" of boxing, is one of the most flamboyant and charismatic writers ever to capture the drama of fights and fighters on paper -- and now the Internet. One of the most recognizable personalities in the sport, Sugar -- with his trademark fedora and cigar the size of Larry Holmes' left arm -- has been called "entertaining, insightful and eminently colorful."
But over and above being called "The Greatest Boxing Writer of the 20th Century" by the International Veterans Boxing Association, Sugar has turned his talent to other media, working with HBO and appearing in several movies, including "The Great White Hype" with Samuel L. Jackson, "Night and the City" with Robert DeNiro, "Play it to the Bone," with Antonio Banderas and Woody Harrelson and has a cameo role in the 2006 blockbuster "Rocky Balboa."
Bert Sugar Columns:
Worcester Telegram-Gazette: ESPN show examines the real-life Rocky
New York Times: Back When Boxing Really Packed a Wallop
Bill Gallo - Daily News: Boxing & the secret to happiness
Boston Herald: Marciano in 'Classic Ringside' Spotlight
A boxing mystique was born over 50 years ago when Brockton heavyweight Rocky Marciano launched the punch heard round the sporting world in Philadelphia on Sept. 23, 1952. "It was the greatest right hand ever thrown," ESPN boxing historian Bert Sugar said. Sugar and Brian Kenny, his partner on ESPN Classic's Ringside, gathered along with former welterweight champ Tony DeMarco and Peter Marciano in the North End this week for a preview of a six-hour examination of the life and times of Marciano.