Knockout: The Boxer and Boxing in American Cinema is an examination of Hollywood boxing films, including such classics as Million Dollar Baby, Rocky, and Raging Bull. Leger Grindon takes a look at how on-screen boxers bring to life the struggles and disappointments central to the shaping of America’s ideas of masculinity.
My guess is that if you were to tell Sylvester Stallone that “the boxing film is founded on the conflict between body and soul or material versus spiritual values, and the critique of the success ethic expressed as the conflict between individual competition fostered by market forces versus human cooperation and self-sacrifice,” he would smile and reply, “Absolutely.”
But perhaps Knockout: The Boxer and Boxing in American Cinema was not written for Sylvester Stallone.
Perhaps it was written for people who are comfortable speculating about the extent to which “the screen boxer dramatizes conflicts and aspirations central to American experience.”
Leger Grindon considers films as early as Battling Butler (1926) and The Champ (1931) and as recent as Million Dollar Baby (2004) and Cinderella Man (2005). Fans of Slapshot might want to argue his contention that “boxing is the sport that has proven to be best suited for films,” but no reader of Knockout will be disappointed by a lack of earnest scholarship.