Cradle of Champions review – boxing documentary in fighting form | Film

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Here is a forthright, uncomplicated and robustly made documentary about the New York Golden Gloves, the most prestigious amateur boxing contest in the United States, which has been sponsored by the New York Daily News since its creation in the 1920s. It has been the nursery of more great boxers than the Olympics, including Floyd Patterson and Sugar Ray Leonard. (I couldn’t resist checking if Jake LaMotta ever fought in the Golden Gloves; he didn’t, but his nephew John did.)

The film follows the fortunes of three young fighters: Titus Williams, James Wilkins and Nisa Rodriguez and reflects on the time-honoured subject of how boxing offers an aspirational culture and gets young people out of harm’s way. And at the amateur level, then there is some level of innocence – although the film doesn’t touch explicitly on how big money, or the prospect of big money, could change that. Director Bartle Bull ponders how amateur and community boxing clubs have been closing down in New York over the past 20 years, and how the Golden Gloves could soon be starved of talent.

There is something affecting in its interviews with the trainers: idealists and mentors, they are often ex-cops and ex-firefighters with heartbreaking stories to tell about the comrades who fell on 9/11. It’s a sentimental film about New York and the way it sees itself: tough, big-hearted, assimilated and patriotic. There is an interesting interview with the Daily News employee whose job it is to hand out Silver Gloves pendants to the runners-up. “They always cry,” she says. No shame in it.

Watch the trailer on Vimeo

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Cradle of Champions review – boxing documentary in fighting form | Film

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