“El Boxeo” a new documentary directed by Alan Swyer, tells the inspirational story of the rise of Latin American fighters. Combining words and images, plus classic fight footage, the film powerfully shows the evolution of boxing through the eyes of some of the most famous Latino pugilists.
It’s been said that everyone, in one way or another, is an immigrant. A lot of boxers fight out necessity and hunger. Poverty is all the motivation they need. They fight because they must.
In the 1960s, Sugar Ramos and Ruben Olivares fought their way out of the slums to become world champions. Olivares, one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport, and sadly forgotten by many, gets his just due here. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Roberto Duran captured the imagination of most boxing fans. His talent kicked the door open for other fighters like Alexis Arguello, Julio Cesar Chavez, Felix Trinidad, Fernando Vargas, Oscar De La Hoya, and today’s biggest Latino star, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
The film features interviews with many of these fighters plus boxing historians, sportswriters, actors, and of course the boxers themselves. Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Sugar Ray Leonard, Carlos Palomino, Jimmy Lennon Jr, Sergio Martinez, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Don Chargin, Alex “The Bronx Bomber” Ramos, Armando Muniz, Frankie Duarte, Gabe and Rafael Ruelas, Jose Suliaman, Larry Merchant, John Bray, and Rodolfo “El Gato” Gonzalez all contribute passionate accounts of their personal histories with the sweet science.
“El Boxeo” also discusses how boxing moved from New York to Los Angles during this period. Jimmy Lennon Jr. and matchmaker Don “War-A-Week” Chargin reminisce about the matches held at The Olympic Auditorium. That section of the film hit a personal cord with this reviewer. I attended a couple of events held at The Olympic in the early seventies with my father and grandfather.
One needn't be a boxing fan to enjoy this impressive film. It illuminates the courage of these men, and their desire to do something special.
Filled with raw emotion and singular observations Swyer's work is poignant and moving, and should be required viewing for anyone trying to understand what makes a human being fight.
"El Boxeo" is available for pre-order at a discounted price.