It might be something of a stretch to write a boxing article about movie all-time great Clint Eastwood, but as the greatest living actor today celebrates his 90th birthday, it’s a stretch this writer is more than willing to take. Clint has given us so many superb films, pieces of work that are simply treasured by all, and it really is amazing to think he is actually 90 years of age.
A natural athlete who served during the Korean War, Eastwood’s calling was the movie world. Clint never tried his hand at boxing, but he was and is a fight fan. No stranger to the gym, Eastwood lifted weights, did his roadwork, and he became quite proficient on the speed bag and the heavy bag. Of course, as we all know, Clint gave us so many fine action movies; Eastwood being born to play the tough guy.
During the 1960s and ’70s, Clint met and became somewhat friendly with some fighters (check out Clint’s appearance with Muhammad Ali on the David Frost show of 1969 – Ali and Clint sharing a speed bag). There is no doubt, boxers and boxing-inspired the movie colossus during his long, long career. Clint was ringside at plenty of big fights, the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight for a more recent example.
There were times when Clint appeared as a bare-knuckle fighter, in a couple of his movies, but throughout his seven-decade career, Clint made just one official boxing film – this being 2005’s (the date of the UK release) “Million Dollar Baby.” Eastwood starred in and directed the multi-Oscar winning masterpiece, with Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank also turning in fine work.
The first film to document the world of the female boxer, “Million Dollar Baby” broke hearts as well as Box-Office records. Clint, his usual dry-voiced, emotionally withdrawn self in character, plays the wise, old, seen it all, done it all trainer who tries to talk the waitress/wannabe fighter out of it. The ending of the story, as all who have seen the film know, is utterly devastating.
“Million Dollar Baby” is such a fine film; it makes us wonder why Clint never made any other boxing films. As it is, Eastwood easily gave us enough hi-octane entertainment to equal the special adrenaline rush we fight fans only usually get from a great fight.
Clint Eastwood is no boxer, but he is every inch a world champion.