CHAPTER 13
Teachers in the Ring:
The Surprising Role of Trainers in Boxing Movies
Paul McBride
Screenshot 13.1, Jake Gyllenhaal as Billy Hope in Southpaw (2015).
Boxing movies have been popular for many years, so much so
that they have been identified as a film genre. Leger Grindon, in his
article The Body and Soul: The Structure of Meaning in the Boxing Film Genre,
talks about the individuality of the boxer and how the boxer is alone in
a lonely world. Grindon notes that boxing movies have been prominent
in Hollywood since the 1930s with the focus in the early films on the
boxer (54). In this chapter, I am going to take another approach and
write about the changes to boxing movies in Hollywood. One common
element of the films I’m writing about is the boxer’s relationship with
the trainer. Ever since I was young, I have had a real interest in boxing
as a sport, and I watched the movies but with no real intention of
understanding their function or the points of view they were attempting
to get across to viewers. Boxing is a sport where work ethic meets talent
and courage. It takes a lot to be a boxer, and we see that in these movies
that the trainer has a more significant role than in any other sport
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