“Float Like a Butterfly”

This is not a post about the wonder of Monarchs or the beauties of Swallowtails. No, the title is the first part of a Muhammad Ali’s tag line, “Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee” (which occurs to to me would be a good example of a simile in class). It is also a confession of a minor fascination that I have with the brutal sport of boxing.
And it is brutal. Think about it. There is no other sport in which almost every successful move or action, i.e. every punch, though of course footwork is also vital, results in either muscle tissue damage or, more frighteningly, death of brain cells. It is no coincindence that Ali developed Parkinsons at such a young age.
Yet, still I am attracted to the sport. Not to the blood and gore it sometimes displays, and definitely not to the bloodthirst of an audience. I think it is the striving that is attractive. And, boxers have to be in fantastic shape. I have always thought that six months in a boxing gym would do me wonders. I would like to try and see what happens. And, then, watch out.
What I am more certain about is that my view of the sport is primarily constructed from movies. OK, I liked the Rocky movies back in the day. Particularly, Rocky IV which in many ways was the quinticessential Cold War movie, Red Dawn, World War III, The Hunt for Red October, and all the Bond movies of the time being examples of others. (One day I will post about my mixed feelings at the end of and nostalgia for the Cold War. Yeah, you read right. I will explain.)
No, as boxing movies come out, I continue to find myself attracted to them. I don’t watch everything to do with boxing. I have not seen the classic Raging Bull, for example, and I passed on that recent one with Meg Ryan being the manager for some boxer. I think I tend to pick out the ones that showcase gritty determination, and those that are rather bleak. The story around the boxing is just as important, which is why Rocky won the Oscar and all of its successors have become a running national joke.
Well, enough dancing around the ring. Here is my very brief list of boxing movies and links to a trailer of one that is coming out and looks very good and to Roger Ebert’s review of it.
The Boxer (1997) With Daniel Day-Lewis, who is fantastic, as he is in In the Name of the Father, and the intense and beautiful Emily Watson. Now unfortunately the movie really makes you pull for adultery, or rather divorce and remarriage, so that’s not good. But, there is a lot of aching longing in the movie and bleak Irishness, which I also kind of have a thing for.
Girlfight (2000) With Michelle Rodriguez, as a kick-butt, no nonsense girl boxer. Not as much of a favorite as the above, but still good. Replaces inter city grittiness for Irish bleakness.
The Power of One (1992) Not so much of a boxing movie and a bit melodramatic in bits, but a good film about overcoming adversity and a good film about Apartheid.
Here is the link for Million Dollar Baby, the up and comer or the contender if you will (with and directed by Clint Eastwood and with Morgan Freeman and Hillary Swank), and to Ebert’s review.

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