As a sports fan and a documentary fiend, there is nothing better than when the two come together. While there are definitely some average-at-best sports documentaries out there, some are right up there with the best of any genre. Here are four of those docs.
1. Pumping Iron
This was one of the most influential documentaries of all time and is thought to have actually led to the fitness craze of the 1980s. This 1977 film focuses on bodybuilders and their training for the Mr. Olympia competition. The film focuses on a lot of different bodybuilders and is actually the piece of media that made Arnold Schwarzenegger a household name. The film also increased the number of gyms in the states and led to the “culture” of bodybuilding that we now see in the present day.
This is a fantastic documentary that depicts the life and tragic death of Brazilian motor-racing champion Ayrton Senna. The film relies heavily on actual race footage and home video clips, which make it very unique. It focuses on is racing career in F1 from start, to his first Grand Prix appeareance and his eventual death on the track in a 1994 race. The documentary is incredibly compelling and thrilling and has won numerous awards and should be watched by every sports fan, even if you don’t like F1 or motor racing.
3. When We Were Kings
This documentary was released in 1996 and was about the world famous “Rumble in the Jungle” which was a heavyweight boxing fight between Muhammed Ali and George Foreman that took place in Zaire in 1974. The film took an astonishing 22 years to edit and finance but when it finally released, it had a great reception and even won an Academy Award. The film follows the dramatic build up to the fight and is largely seen as one of the best documentaries of all time and has maintained a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
4. Hoop Dreams
This is no doubt the best basketball documentary ever and right up there with the best sports one period. Hoop Dreams is a 1994 documentary film that follows the story of two African American high school basketball players (William Gates and Arthur Agee) and their dreams of becoming pro NBA players. The film touches on a number of issues such as race, social class, education, values and many more. Roger Ebert even went as far to say it was one of the best films of the 1990’s. The doc was originally supposed to be a half hour short film, bit eventually released at almost three hours long as they had captured almost 250 hours of footage over five years.