This comprehensive HBO presentation documents the history of heavyweight boxing through the 20th century, beginning with Jess Willard's victory over Jack Johnson in the early 1900s and running through the reign of the cont... more »roversial Mike Tyson. As well as being an overview of the Sweet Science, however, Kings of the Ring probes the private lives of the champs and the travails that they faced outside the ring, with special attention to the context of their times and the roles that the fighters played in reflecting and shaping society. Undoubtedly Max Baer's and Joe Louis's victories over Max Schmeling in the 1930s carried some political weight as the unwilling symbol of Nazi Germany was pummeled by both Americans. Some 30 years later, Cassius Clay's personality, brash attitude, and superior skills in the ring brought him attention. That attention turned to controversy when Clay joined the Nation of Islam, changed his name to Muhammad Ali, and was jailed for refusing to go to Vietnam. Also, no history of 20th-century heavyweight boxing would be complete without the occasional freak show, such as the Italian strongman Primo Carnera boxing with a kangaroo before being taken apart by the much smaller Max Baer. There is, of course, plenty of thrilling fight footage to go around as well, with boxers such as the wild Jack Dempsey, the remarkable Rocky Marciano, and Ali's astounding speed and footwork. Marciano's hammering of Jersey Joe Walcott in particular is worth the price of admission. --Jerry Renshaw« less
Ensio N Mikkola | Gaithersburg, MD United States | 01/21/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I regret buying this DVD. Actually, it wasn't what I was looking for. There was another documentary called KINGS OF THE RING which focused on the careers of Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali. It was directed by Bud Greenspan, I saw it once or twice on SHOWTIME and thought it was excellent. The tribute to Joe Louis was particularly touching. What we have here is an HBO produced documentary with a similar name but with less class. Admittedly, some of the footage here is rare (the Schmeling-Baer fight, Carnera boxing a kangaroo), but it just feels like footage spliced together with bleh commentary. And poor Larry Holmes. You get to watch him get pummelled by a young Mike Tyson again. No mention of his 7 years as heavyweight champion of the world. ... But save your [money] and wait for Showtime to air the Greenspan documentary."
Poor poor Larry
M Darrow | everywhere at once | 12/14/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I've seen Larry Holmes interviewed in the past and at first I thought he was just a man with a massive inferiority complex but now I understand his problem. When a film such as this (which gives a fairly detailed history of the heavyweight crown) completely and uterly ignores his domination of the division for a five to eight year span, I think his complex is justified. Max Baer and Primo Carnera get five times as much attention in this movie as does holmes. I was also expecting some kind of explanation of when and how the multiple governing bodies took precedence in the awarding of the title. After all it's something that could be discussed in narration alone without additional footage. Instead... we magically skip from Ali, who apparently has one title, to the days of Tyson and multiple titles. This is an important omition.I understand that there is not film coverage of the absolute beginning of the heavyweight crown but I also find fault with the omission of this info..."
Ryan | Indianapolis, IN USA | 02/02/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I love KINGS OF THE RING. HBO always does a great job with boxing show and I like the Louis Gosset Jr. as the nararrator. It has a real in-depth history of the heavyweight division. From Jack Dempsey's brutal ko of Jess Willard, to Mike Tyson. It show training and fight clips, as well as clips from outside the ring. It also helps explain the signifcance of the Heavyweight title and what it meant to the world at each particualar time in history."
Pretty good but missing
firstname.lastname@example.org | usa | 06/21/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"while it's cool to hear Louis Gossett Jr The Academy Award winner given Commentary through out this Project doesn't cover the full bases of Boxing.you have to do more.still there are rare footage here&there good coverage throughout from different Era's&Weight Classes but still something is mising from this being complete."
30 minutes of boxing, 60 of filler in this TKO (Total Krap-O
Annie Van Auken | Planet Earth | 06/07/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"What a disappointing 90 minutes this is! Brief highlights of two-dozen widely circulated fights are shuffled in with Lindbergh in Paris, babies crying in 'Nam, Malcolm X speechifying, dirigibles, Hitler, Mussolini, the '36 Olympics, FDR's voice over shots of waving grain, sheep walking along a dam, fans lining up for a fight, and just about any obscure 20th Century newsreel footage they could dredge up.
We see Rocky Marciano box Jerry Lewis while a laughing Dean Martin referees, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby waltz in the ring with former pugilists as balloon-chested Barbara Eden looks on, Fiorello LaGuardia babbles, Sgt. Joe Louis blows his lines for a WWII PSA, Ali sings in a Broadway show, Joe Frazier haha's over beating "God," Primo Carnera spars with a kangaroo, greasy Sonny Liston sweats, ancient Dempsey and Tunney pretend box for the camera, and so on. Feh.
Totally ridiculous. Throw in the towel on this one."