Stream it or skip it?

There is an old boxing saying that as heavyweight is, so is the sport. While this was true for much of the 20th century, the 1980s challenged that notion thanks to four of the greatest welter and middleweight fighters in history. Showtime Sports brings you Ringside kings, a four-part documentary that chronicles the collective legacy of “The Four Kings” – ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard, ‘Manos de Piedra’ (‘Hands of Stone’) Roberto Duran, Thomas ‘The Hitman’ Hearns and the Late Great ‘Wonderful’ Marvin Hagler.

kingsStream it or skip it?

Opening Shot: A heavy bag with the rhythmic sound of a fist, a quote from the famous screenwriter and former Sports Illustrated Scribe Bud Schulberg appears on the black screen saying, “As much as I love boxing, I hate it. And as much as I hate it, I love it.”

It follows a wide span scene with a spotlight kissed away from the empty ring surrounded by darkness. Hall of Fame trainer and longtime TV analyst Teddy Atlas’ famously hoarse voice says, “It was the end of an era. But the curtain closes, then another curtain opens. Boxing has always been about everything that happens in the world.” Boxing is a metaphor for life.”

He refers to it as a montage of images that led to the year 1980. The alternating clip of Muhammad Ali entering the ring comes after a shot from the White House, his second-against his one-time partner Larry Holmes and the seemingly cheerful but beleaguered President Jimmy Carter. It will be the last match. Several other news clips show Carter gracing Iran’s hostage crisis and oil shortage in an election year, before we see Ali’s powerful jabs at his Waterloo – Father Time and the then-undefeated Holmes. The voices of many boxing media veterans use that bout (one where Holmes reluctantly keeps punching until Ali’s corner throws in the towel) to introduce our main subjects as men. as the springboard whose rivalry would fill the void Ali created with his retirement in 1981. We see clips of each fighter in the ring, sometimes against each other, before the introduction ends with the outstretched arms of Hagler, who passed away suddenly last March.

You’re ready to get in the ring now, aren’t you?

kings showtime documentary
Photo: Showtime

abstract: The first episode, titled “Ghetto to Glory to Gold”, is a callback to a newspaper article profiling telegenic Ray Leonard, who was the highlight of the 1976 US Olympic boxing team. How and why it dives into the style of the shy kid from Maryland, who spruced up the great “Sugar” Ray Robinson, seems to have been chosen to fill Ali’s shoes. And just as Ali would overshadow his contemporaries, no matter how great they were, Leonard would be presented as potential threats to each of the other fighters. With the culture-shifting background of the 1980 US presidential election, these people, notably Leonard and Duran, are also small but important players in shaping the perception of how their hometowns and their countries are perceived by the world. is seen.

What is unique about this series is that rather than viewing individual discussions and tour through the lives of these legends in real time, our scenes are archived fights, television and radio interviews, and artistic representations of subjects in action.

What it shows will remind you: You can choose your choice for which boxed image kings Will remind you because a significant amount of them are focused on the same time frame. Although for this writer, the stylistic genius of “June 17, 1994” from ESPN 30 for 30 series came to mind. although kings Essentially using audio interviews as the soundtrack to the series, it used the same television footage as “June 17, 1994”, except that the latter featured a more harrowing story, covering the infamous OJ Simpson car chase. strategy was used. Using a Creative License with Some Photography Might Also Remind You of Netflix losers, which may be the best sports documentary ever produced by a streaming service.

Our take: Imagine if you were sitting in Leonard’s house, observing these iconic moments in your own personal study, while he and several trusted people – journalists, former promoters, historians – are telling you everything that is happening. . He calls on his former rivals (including Hagler before his untimely death) to give his perspective on the timeline, even as they are in conflicts of their own. While you wish you could see rather than listen to the interviewers, there is something uniquely intimate about viewing these legends through this lens.

sex and skin They may not be the greatest athletes, but they were among the most physically fit men on the planet. There’s no sex, but by the nature of the game, there’s a lot of skin. Don’t cry about crushing some of it with a fist.

Parting Shot: Teddy Atlas’ voice resurfaces to talk about how we can find out who the person in the ring really is. As we see a victorious Duran who defeated Leonard in the first battle of a long-running trilogy, he foresaw a story about the Panamanian icon spiraling out of control starting with that victory. goes. Fighting fans are familiar with the story, but for those who may not, Google two words: “no mass.”

Sleeper Star: The Hands of the Stone Himself, Roberto Duran. It’s hard to call any of these International Boxing Hall of Famers sleepers in any capacity, but Duran remains the most entertaining talker among the surviving members of the foursome. Speaking in his native Spanish, he delves deep into his emotions as if the era has been reborn in real time. When Duran talks about the political impediments surrounding Panama-US relations over the handing over of the Panama Canal, he finds the intensity, the meanness, and the obscenity that made him the most feared person in the game. Yet he brings up some hilarious excitement when he remembers the celebration at the airport when he comes home to Panama after defeating Leonard.

Most pilot-y line: Returning to Atlas’ foreshadowing at the end of the episode, you could argue that his quote falls into the category, but because of laziness or poor writing, but history itself. “Who would have thought that the night of his greatest moment, to open the gates of great wealth and of all the things that this poor child from Panama had dreamed of, was the night that was to condemn his future? All those things Who made Duran great and saw the world and created his legend… Gone after that night?”

Our Call: Stream it! These four doctors of sweet science not only mastered their ring, but the backgrounds and personalities each came into battle with. Even without the physical presence of fighters, kings It does a great job of giving new life to old footage while naturally weaving in the social and political realities of the 1980s. And while it seems impossible to talk about boxing without Muhammad Ali (this series is no different in this regard), at least the icon is less of an all-encompassing shadow and a willing passerby for a new group of torchbearers. is seen in. standard carrier.

Jason Klinkskells is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whole Game, and his work has been featured in Awful Announcing, The Week and Dime magazine. A New York City native, he is also a former media research analyst at both television networks and advertising agencies.

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