Cinderella Men by Erin Wade

We delved into the movie Cinderella Man on Netflix yesterday. The movie is over a decade old, and I recall hearing about it before, but it must not have registered at the time. That's too bad - it's an excellent boxing movie, and it pulls at the heartstrings in just the right ways, without being overtly manipulative. 2005 me missed a treat by not seeing it when it came out.

Seeing this movie now reminded me about the recent passing of Muhammad Ali. When the news broke that Ali had died, it had occurred to me that I might want to search for video of The Rumble in the Jungle. Turns out you can find the entire fight broadcast - a little over an hour long, including Ali shadow boxing in the ring, warming up, waiting for Foreman to arrive, the commentators speculating on the outcome of the fight - on YouTube.

It's a great match, and well worth the small investment of time. Ali was not expected to win. At one point, before the match begins, a commentator refers to him as "the aging former champion", reflecting Ali's age of 32 years versus the 25-year old George Foreman. Besides being younger, Foreman was a monster in the ring. He entered this match with a 40-0 record, 37 knockouts (that's 92.5% of his matches ending in knockout, for the statistics nerds out there) with a reputation for delivering those knockouts within the first couple of rounds of a match.

But Ali, well... Watch it. It's astonishing how fast a 200lb, "aging" man can move...

Also of note is the excellent work of the referee, Zack Clayton. He's right there, throughout, rapidly breaking up clinches and unflinchingly separating two huge, dangerous men. As his obituary from 1997 will attest, they chose the right person for the job - he was an accomplished man in his own right.

And - as is often the case with Internet searches - this find lend to others. It appears that there are a lot of vintage boxing matches available on YouTube. For myself, I found it necessary to watch the Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Marvelous Marvin Hagler bout from 1987, a match I remember watching live with my parents back when it originally aired. I distinctly remembering asking my Dad whether, since he was heavier than both men, he thought he could beat them. He thought not, and suggested there might be more to fighting than just weight...