• Serena Williams in 'Venus & Serena' (2012) (SBS Movies)Source: SBS Movies
Get pumped for the new year with these inspiring sports documentaries streaming at SBS On Demand.
By
SBS Movies

16 Aug 2016 - 2:00 PM  UPDATED 20 Jan 2017 - 1:10 PM

Murderball

M
USA, 2005
Genre: Documentary, Sport
Language: English
Directors: Dana Adam Shapiro, Henry Alex Rubin
What's it about?
Murderball is the nickname for 'quad' rugby, a competition played by quadriplegic athletes in murderous wheelchairs. A high-octane fusion of Roller Derby, basketball and football, it isn't for the faint-hearted. This Oscar-nominated documentary follows three main players in the two years leading up to the 2004 Disabled Olympic competition in Athens, and perfectly combines the excitement of the competition with more powerful and intimate personal stories.

 

Venus and Serena

M
USA, 2012
Genre: Documentary
Language: English
Directors: Maiken Baird, Michelle Major
Starring: Venus Williams, Serena Willams
What's it about?
This documentary exec-produced by Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief) gives us unprecedented access into the lives of notoriously media-shy tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams, on and off the court. Through the prism of one year in their lives, the film explores the sisters' irresistible ascension to the top, but also touches on the controversies surrounding them, and their battles with ageing and health issues. Featuring exceptional archive footage, and interviews with tennis players John McEnroe, Billie Jean King (Battle of the Sexes), and even Anna Wintour and Bill Clinton, Venus and Serena is a must-watch for any self-respecting tennis lover.

 

Champs

M
USA, 2015
Director: Bert Marcus
Starring: Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington, Spike Lee
What's it about?
Champs is a documentary about "the poor man's sport": boxing, as seen through the eyes of champions Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Bernard Hopkins, who open up about their lives and careers as never before. Illustrated with reenactments, classic fight footage, and interviews with famous fans (Denzel Washington, 50 Cent, Mark Wahlberg, Spike Lee), the film explains how boxing is a way for young people from rough neighbourhoods to escape poverty and violence, but also the pitfalls of wealth and celebrity they encounter once they become successful, and for which they are ill-equipped.

 

Fightville

M
USA, 2011
Director: Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker
Starring: 'Crazy' Tim Credeur, Gil 'The Thrill' Guillory, Dustin 'The Diamond' Poirier
What's it about?
Over the last decade, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has grown from a controversial no-holds-barred gladiatorial sideshow into a billion dollar phenomenon. This documentary explores the world of young athletes in southern Louisiana as they shed blood, sweat and tears, trying to achieve their goals of becoming professional mixed martial arts fighters. A must watch for any MMA fan.

 

Generation Iron

M
USA, 2014
Director: Vlad Yudin
Starring: Michael Jai White, Mickey Rourke, Arnold Schwarzenegger
What's it about?
An examination of the lives of top bodybuilders as they train to compete in the Mr Olympia competition. Narrated by Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler), and featuring bodybuilding stars Lou Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger, this documentary examines the professional sport of bodybuilding today with access to the lives of contemporary bodybuilding stars on their journey to be crowned Mr Olympia.

You might also like on SBS On Demand: Bigger, Stronger, Faster

 

Fire in Babylon

PG
UK, USA, 2011
Director: Stevan Riley
Starring: Ian Botham, Colin Croft, Jeffery Dujon, Joel Garner, Lance Gibbs
What's it about?
Few sporting sides have so fully represented the pinnacle of their chosen sport as The West Indies cricket team of the mid 1970s-early '80s. The fearsome physicality of pacemen Michael Holding, Andy Roberts and Joel Garner and the immovable techniques of batsmen Clive Lloyd, Alvin Kallicharran and the legendary Viv Richards inspired a nation. Stevan Riley's documentary charts the dominance of this great side with archival footage and recollections from fellow greats of the era.

Cricket tragic Adam Zwar delivers an SBS On Demand double bill to bowl you over (Guest column)

 

The Trials of Muhammad Ali

M
USA, 2013
Director: Bill Siegel
Starring: Muhammad Ali
What's it about?
Bill Segel’s compelling documentary offers a startling introduction to one of the world’s most cherished fighters, sparked in part by a fractious court case over the rejection of his conscientious objector status when he refused to serve in the Vietnam War, but also borne of a huge public backlash over his religious conversion and name change from Cassius Clay. This documentary explores what made him such a controversial, charismatic and influential figure, not only in the sporting arena, but in world history generally. 

 

Desert Runners

M
USA, 2013
Director: Jennifer Steinman
What's it about?
American documentary maker Jennifer Steinman profiles four amateur athletes attempting to tackle the most difficult ultra marathon races on earth. She follows an Irish businessman, an aspiring Australian actress, a retired American baseball player and a widowed British bodyguard, as they push themselves to the limit in world's most picturesque and brutal deserts in Chile, China, Egypt and Antarctica.

 

Kassim the Dream

M
USA, 2009
Director: Kief Davidson
What's it about?
This multi award-winning documentary tells the story of World Champion Boxer, Kassim 'The Dream' Ouma. Born in Uganda, Kassim was kidnapped by the rebel army and trained to be a child soldier at the age of 6. When the rebels took over the government, Kassim became an army soldier who was forced to commit many horrific atrocities, making him both a victim and perpetrator. He soon discovered the army’s boxing team and realised the sport was his ticket to freedom, eventually becoming Junior Middleweight Champion of the World. 

 

Hoop Dreams

M
USA, 1994
Director: Steve James
What's it about?
Shot over five years, this riveting classic documentary follows two African American teenagers who hope to become college basketball players and make it in the NBA. The talented duo dream of using their sporting achievements as a way to escape the drug addiction, poverty, and violence within their inner-city Chicago environment – and to improve the lives of their families. Universally acclaimed ever since its release in 1994, Hoop Dreams provides an incisive insight into underprivileged black urban existence.

Hoop Dreams ★★★★ ½ review

 

The Battle of the Sexes

PG
UK, 2013
Director: James Erskine
What's it about?
Forty years after the historic tennis matches between feminist icon and champion player Billie Jean King and noted chauvinist, provocateur and former pro Bobby Riggs, director James Erskine looks back at the circus that surrounded the 1973 event and its legacy in advancing the rights of female athletes. This fascinating and entertaining documentary was the subject of a biopic starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell, to be released in 2017.

The Battle of the Sexes ★★★ ½ review
First look at Emma Stone, Steve Carell in sports biopic 'Battle of the Sexes'

 

Salute

PG
Australia/USA, 2008
Director: Matt Norman
What's it about?
In 1968 at the Mexico Olympic Games, two American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gave the black power salute while standing on the podium after the 200 metres final, as the American national anthem was playing. They became symbols of the US civil rights movement, but paid a hefty price as they subsequently became ostracised and harassed for many years. Directed by the nephew of Peter Norman, the white Australian athlete who stood with Smith and Carlos on the podium, this documentary highlights his role in the iconic event.

Read: Social exclusion couldn’t stop the rise of black athletes

 

Ping Pong

PG
UK, 2012
Director: Hugh Hartford
What's it about?
Documentary Ping Pong follows tennis table players who traveled from all around the world to compete at the 2010 World Championships held in China. The twist: these competitors are 80 years and older, with the eldest being Australian legend Dorothy deLow, who at the ripe age of 100 shows no sign (well, very few signs) of slowing down. This is the journey of very attaching and inspiring characters who, quite literally, never say die.

Ping Pong ★★★ ½ review

 

Like Water

M
USA, 2011
Director: Pablo Croce
What's it about?
Like Water (referring to Bruce Lee’s quote: “you must be shapeless, formless, like water”) follows Brazilian mixed martial arts fighter and long-running UFC middleweight champ Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva, as he divides his time between family life in Brazil and extensive training camps in LA, building up to his career defining title defense against challenger Chael Sonnen. Pablo Croce scooped the Best New Documentary Director award at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2001 for his debut film.

 

Road

PG
Ireland/UK, 2014
Director: Michael Hewitt, Dermot Lavery
What's it about?
For two generations, the Dunlop family from Northern Ireland has dominated motorcycle road racing, the most dangerous of all motor sports, in which men compete at speeds of up to 32 km per hour on closed country roads. Narrated by Liam Neeson, this documentary is the dramatic, tragic and inspirational story of two sets of Dunlop brothers - Joey and Robert, William and Michael, united by success, and loss.

 

Tyson

M
USA, 2009
Director: James Toback
What's it about?
Assembled from over 30 hours of interviews with Mike Tyson, director James Toback explores the life and career of the former heavyweight boxing champion. From his early years under the wing of infamous boxing promoter Don King to his notorious match against Evander Holyfield and his conviction on sexual assault charges, Mike Tyson reflects on his highly controversial life. Winner of the Regard Knockout Award at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.

Tyson ★★★★ review

 

Planet B-Boy

M
France/USA, 2008
Director: Benson Lee
What's it about?
Think breakdancing died in the eighties? Think again. This documentary rediscovers one of the most incredible dance phenomena the world has ever seen. Originally known as "B-boying", breakdancing was an urban dance form that originated from the streets of New York City during the birth of hip-hop in the seventies. Three decades later, B-boying is back in full force and has evolved into an art form, reaching a level never seen before.

 

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