For a better experience on MUBI, update your browser.

KENJI'S SPORTING CORNER

by Kenji
Notable films on sporting subjects. And a space for my own sporting lists (I admit it, that was the main incentive for this list). Yes, i know many sports films are hardly masterpieces, some are corny, winning against all the odds clichés and competitive macho hoo-ha (i hate Rocky). Still, quite a few are well worth checking out. City Lights is worthy of inclusion for its brilliant boxing section alone. I was tempted to leave out some in the bottom part of the list, but thought it might be useful to have a library subject guide. Oh, and i’ve just realised- years after first doing this list, I’ve gone all macho myself, taken up taekwondo, so… Read more

Notable films on sporting subjects. And a space for my own sporting lists (I admit it, that was the main incentive for this list). Yes, i know many sports films are hardly masterpieces, some are corny, winning against all the odds clichés and competitive macho hoo-ha (i hate Rocky). Still, quite a few are well worth checking out. City Lights is worthy of inclusion for its brilliant boxing section alone. I was tempted to leave out some in the bottom part of the list, but thought it might be useful to have a library subject guide. Oh, and i’ve just realised- years after first doing this list, I’ve gone all macho myself, taken up taekwondo, so I’ve put a suitable image of Jade Jones, the Welsh double Olympic gold medallist, above. When it come to progress, forget the way of the dragon and tiger, mine is the way of the snail.

Suggestions please, i’d like a more international list, it’s heavily Anglophone. As an antidote to the male domination of the genre and media coverage i put the Iranian film Offside, an engaging satire about female supporters barred from attending football matches, first on the list. Also from Iran, The Day I Became a Woman‘s central section features a young woman participating in a bike race whose reactionary male family members attempt to stop her en route. The Tarnished Angels, by Douglas Sirk, is a neglected treasure centred on the glamorous daredevil plane racing scene in the 50s. In the excellent 60s British film Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Tom Courtenay is an incarcerated teen whose running ability has him selected for a race against a posh school. When We Were Kings by Leon Gast is a fascinating documentary about the great 1974 heavyweight boxing contest between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire, that effectively captures the heady spirit of the occasion and Ali’s psychological games against the fearsome champion. The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner is a superior short Werner Herzog documentary, about a top ski-jumper of the 70s who was also a skilled, yes, woodcarver. I enjoyed Fire in Babylon about the West Indies cricket team in its golden era, the 70s and 80s- ooh, the way Viv Richards hammered England to all corners in the long hot summer of 76-!, while the political aspects of pride in defeating former colonial masters take precedence over in-depth sporting coverage.

Films Missing from Mubi:

The Fencing Master
Gatica el Mono
The Boxer and the Death
Giro d’Italia- The Greatest Show on Earth

Here is a comprehensive list of football films


SPORT

My first sporting hero was the Motocross rider Terry Challinor in yellow and black, number 111, when, barely a tot, i would go each year to the local scramble (a major event in the British motocross calendar, with the nation’s top riders, oh yes). I’ve since become an international motorbike rider; er well, I’ve twice ridden motorbikes abroad, once into a ditch in Corfu, once into a wall in France. Rugby, ah there i fared a bit better, but gave it up as i was reaching my peak- training night clashed with seeing my then girlfriend in France. No contest. The other players were shocked by my attitude. I was a disgrace to the sport and the brotherhood of man. At school, I gave exhibitions in the noble art of boxing, and would have excelled at cross country running (i would never walk if i could run, the hills of Wales were my friends) if races weren’t so damned painful. And people do that for pleasure? Cricket: i strolled to the crease for the team with a nonchalant majesty. Some kid’s comment “here comes Majid Khan, he’ll be out first ball!” proved astonishingly prophetic. Bradman got a duck in his final innings- one better, my duck was golden. Rink bowls, ah now there i had something, the Welsh international neighbour who gave me a few games compared me to another lad in the next town who also had great promise. After a few weeks i was off and away, and the other teenager went on to be world champion. Ah, the cruelty of fate. And so for years i’ve been a couch potato, dreaming of glories that might have been, the winning try for Wales that got away. As for lists, my first lists as a kid were sporting and i can enjoy regressing into that reassuring pastime here, hopefully stirring up some arguments among sports fans along the way. Do let me know where you disagree or have someone to champion. Oh, or any films worth adding too.

-

Sporting Heroes
Barry John, (Welsh Rugby player)
Majid Khan, (Pakistan cricketer)
Muhammad Ali
Roger Federer
Peter “the cat” Bonetti (Chelsea goalkeeper)
Chiyonofuji, (Sumo wrestler)
Gareth Edwards (Welsh Rugby player)
Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson (Welsh wheelchair athlete)
Robert Millar (Scottish cyclist)
Rosa Mota (Portuguese distance runner)
Haile Gebreselassie (Ethiopian distance runner)
John Charles (Welsh footballer)
Viv Richards (Antiguan cricketer)
Lawrence Taylor (NFL/American Football)
Pelé
Johan Cruyff
Jimmy Wilde (Welsh boxer)

oh and Katie Billingham, my very nice, cheerful, encouraging and protective taekwondo instructor.

Top 10 Sportsmen
Muhammad Ali
Pelé
Michael Jordan
Roger Federer
Michael Phelps
Usain Bolt
Jim Thorpe
Eddy Merckx
Carl Lewis
Paavo Nurmi
+
Don Bradman, Jesse Owens, Rod Laver, Wayne Gretzky, Naim Süleymanoğlu, Haile Gebreselassie. Kenenisa Bekele, Michael Schumacher, Jack Nicklaus, Sugar Ray Robinson, Tiger Woods, Johann Cruyff, Babe Ruth, Lionel Messi, Tom Brady, Mark Spitz, Ayrton Senna, Fausto Coppi, Emil Zatopek, Juan Fangio, Gary Sobers, Gareth Edwards, Ed Moses, Jean-Claude Killy, Jahangir Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, Ingemar Stenmark, Gareth Edwards. Jim Brown…

Top 10 Footballers
1.Pelé
2.Lionel Messi
3.Johan Cruyff
+
Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo
Ferenc Puskas
Zinedine Zidane
Diego Maradona
Alfredo Di Stefano
Franz Beckenbauer
+
Garrincha, Eusebio, Ronaldinho, Michel Platini, Giuseppe Meazza, Marco Van Basten, Zico, Lev Yashin, Franco Baresi, Romario, Gerd Muller, Paulo Maldini, Lothar Matthaus, Thierry Henry, Bobby Charlton, John Charles, Ruud Gullit, George Best, José Andrade, Elias Figueroa, José Moreno, Bobby Moore, Michael Laudrup, Kenny Dalglish, Gianni Rivera, Juan Schiaffino, Didi, Roberto Baggio, Luis Figo, Gaetano Scirea, Dennis Bergkamp, Giacinto Facchetti, Josef Bican, Georghi Hagi, Gunnar Nordahl, Obdulio Varela, Nilton Santos, Djalma Santos, Lilian Thuram, Hugo Sanchez, Matthias Sindelar, Nandor Hidegkuti, Gabriel Batistuta, Andres Iniesta, Ruud Krol, Raymond Kopa, Just Fontaine, Daniel Passarella, Zizinho, Arthur Friedenreich, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Roberto Carlos, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Cafu, Ryan Giggs, Johan Neeskens, George Weah, Tom Finney, Rivelino, Stanley Matthews, Duncan Edwards,…

Top 10 Boxers
Muhammad Ali
Sugar Ray Robinson
Henry Armstrong
Joe Louis
Willie Pep
Floyd Mayweather
Sam Langford
Harry Greb
Sugar Ray Leonard
Roberto Duran
+
Jimmy Wilde, Julio Cesar Chavez, Rocky Marciano, Roy Jones, Jack Johnson, Benny Leonard, Manny Pacquiao, Marvin Hagler, Archie Moore, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Ezzard Charles, Joe Gans, Evander Holyfield, Carlos Monzon, Thomas Hearns, George Foreman, Stanley Ketchel, Larry Holmes, Bernard Hopkins, Joe Calzaghe, Pernell Whitaker, Barney Ross..

Rugby XV
G.Price (Wales)
FitzpatrIck (New Zealand)
Du Randt (South Africa)
Meads (NZ)
Eales (Australia)
McCaw (NZ)
M.Jones (NZ)
Du Preez (SA)
Edwards (Wales)
Carter (NZ)
Lomu (NZ)
Gerber (SA)
O’Driscoll (Ireland)
Campese (Australia)
Blanco (France)
+
Whineray (NZ), Paparemborde (France), Wood (Ireland), Johnson (England), Matfield (SA), McBride (Ireland), Rives (France), Gallagher (NZ), Hill (E), Pienaar (SA), Brooke (NZ), M.Davies (Wales), Shelford (NZ), Van der Westhuizen (SA), Gregan (Australia), Catchpole (Australia), Going (NZ), John (Wales), Ella (Australia), Wilkinson (England), Kyle (Ireland), Porta (Argentina), Gibson (Ireland), Sella (France), Horan (Australia), Umaga (NZ), B.Williams (Wales), Kirwan (NZ), G.Davies (Wales), Wilson (NZ), Cullen (NZ), JPR Williams (Wales), Clarke (NZ).. so many contenders

Cricket XI
Hobbs (England)
Tendulkar (India)
Bradman (Australia)
Lara (West Indies)
Richards (West Indies)
Sobers (West Indies)
Gilchrist (Australia)
Imran (Pakistan)
Marshall (West Indies)
Warne (Australia)
Barnes (England)
+

Gavaskar, WG Grace, B.Richards, Sutcliffe, Trumper, Hutton, Hammond, G. Pollock, Zaheer, Ponting, G.Chappell, G.Headley, Sangakarra, Border, Sehwag, Weekes, Javed, Woolley, Compton, Jayasuriya, Kallis, Miller, Botham, Kapil Dev, Rhodes, Hadlee, S.Pollock, Wasim Akram, McGrath, Trueman, Ambrose, Garner, Waqar, Donald, Davidson, Lillee, Holding, Lindwall, Hall, Spofforth, Muralitharan, O’Reilly, Laker, Kumble…

-

Tennis (male)
1. Roger Federer
2. Rod Laver
+
Rafael Nadal, Bill Tilden, Pancho Gonzales, Novak Djokovic, Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras, Ken Rosewall
+
Don Budge, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, Jack Kramer, Andre Agassi
+
Vines, Perry, Hoad, Becker, Edberg, Cochet, Newcombe, Wilander, Emerson, Murray, Lacoste, Riggs, Borotra..

Tennis (female)
1.Martina Navratilova
2.Steffi Graf
3.Margaret Court
4.Serena Williams
5.Helen Wills-Moody
6.Chris Evert
7.Suzanne Lenglen
+
8.Billie Jean King
9.Maureen Connolly
10.Monica Seles
+
Justine Henin, Martina Hingis, Venus Williams, Maria Bueno, Lottie Dod..

~

American Football
Tom Brady
Jim Brown
Jerry Rice
Lawrence Taylor
Joe Montana
Walter Payton
Dick Butkus
+
(alphabetically) Larry Allen, Marcus Allen, Lance Alworth, Champ Bailey, Sammy Baugh, Chuck Bednarik, Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Dick Butkus, Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, Tony Dorsett, John Elway, Marshall Faulk, Brett Favre, Tony Gonzalez, Otto Graham, Red Grange, Joe Greene, Forrest Gregg, Rob Gronkowski, Jack Ham, John Hannah, Marvin Harrison, Mike Haynes, Mel Hein, Ted Hendricks, Don Hutson, Michael Irvin, Calvin Johnson, Deacon Jones, Walter Jones, Jack Lambert, Dick Lane, Willie Lanier, Steve Largent, Ray Lewis, Bob Lilly, Ronnie Lott, Sid Luckman, John Mackey, Peyton Manning, Gino Marchetti, Dan Marino, Bruce Matthews, Randy Moss, Marion Motley, Anthony Munoz, Bronco Nagurski, Ray Nitschke, Jonathan Ogden, Merlin Olsen, Terrell Owens, Alan Page, Jim Parker, Adrian Peterson, Ed Reed, Willie Roaf, Aaron Rodgers, Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders, Gale Sayers, Junior Seau, O.J.Simpson, Mike Singletary, Bruce Smith, Emmitt Smith, Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, Ladainian Tomlinson, Emlen Tunnell, Johnny Unitas, Gene Upshaw, JJ Watt, Reggie White, Larry Wilson, Rod Woodson, Steve Young..

~

Chess
Kasparov
Capablanca
Fischer
Lasker
Karpov
Alekhine
Morphy
Carlsen
Tal
Botvinnik
+Anand, Kramnik, Steinitz, Petrosian, Spassky, Rubinstein, Korchnoi, Tarrasch, Keres….

~

While doing this list i found out that Terry Challinor is still competing, well into his 60s. The man once held in awe by a small boy- still in the yellow and black, after all these years. And i see his arch rival of the time Andy Roberton, who lived up my street, is still going strong too, both putting younger riders to shame. Well, the discovery has made doing the list worthwhile. And if anyone wonders why Tiger Woods isn’t in my overall sporting top 10, well look what Tom Watson and Greg Norman have done recently- doesn’t say too much for the current crop does it? In fact, Jack Nicklaus may still have the greater claim. The media hypes the current generation and so many oldies get neglected. Same with films. So much knowledge available online and dvd, yet it seems horizons are ever smaller, in time and space. For so many it seems films began with Star Wars or Pulp Fiction, never extended beyond Hollywood, and the top sporting greats are all from the last few years!

Terry Challinor

Read less