The Olympic Channel is getting into documentaries, and the one they initially announced back in December 2016 as the first part of their Five Rings Films series is now out. At that point, we knew this would be a film on Cuban boxing, directed by Peter Berg (known for the Friday Night Lights movie and TV series, the 30 for 30 installment Kings’ Ransom, Lone Survivor, Patriots Day and more) and produced by Mike Tollin (Radio, Coach Carter, Smallville, the 30 for 30 doc Who Killed The USFL?, Morningside 5, We Town and more) and Frank Marshall (everything from Raiders of the Lost Ark through the Bourne series and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom).
The 87-minute film, now called The People’s Fighters, is now out, and can be watched for free on Olympic Channel’s website. Here’s a trailer for it:
This looks pretty interesting, exploring both the career of the famed Teófilo Stevenson and the larger Cuban boxing scene, and it’s a natural fit for The Olympic Channel given how important the Olympics were for Cuban boxers. Here’s more on the film from a release:
Filmed in Havana and the United States and told through personal commentary from boxer Félix Savón, coach Alcides Sagarra Carón, other Cuban Olympic boxing medallists and athletes, and former boxing world champion and Team USA Olympic gold medallist Oscar De La Hoya, the film provides an authoritative look at the country’s seminal boxing culture.
“As an American, I wanted to make money after becoming an Olympic gold medallist, to give my family a better life,” said De la Hoya. “But not in Cuba – they’re not built that way. Cuban fighters don’t think about how many millions they can have, it’s all about making your country proud. That’s the Cuban way.”
This film will go beyond boxing, too, and touch many areas of Cuban history, sports and culture. Here’s more on what’s included from its logline:
Over the past 50 years, Cuba – an impoverished island nation of just 11 million people – has produced more Olympic boxing medalists than any other country on the planet. “The People’s Fighters” explores the political relations of Cuba, Russia, and the United States during that period and documents the legendary careers of gold medalists Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon. The film also traces the triumphs and challenges faced by Cuban boxing, and spotlights the rising local talent – such as 2016 gold medalist Julio Cesar De La Cruz – that is paving a future for the sport. Featuring exclusive archival footage, interviews, and remarkable access in Havana and beyond, acclaimed filmmaker Peter Berg examines recent Cuban history through the lens of the country’s unrivalled legacy and passion for boxing.
This is the second documentary Olympic Channel has released in the Five Rings Films series. The first was The Nagano Tapes, which they also released through their website (as well as in a telecast on NBCSN in the US and other partners internationally) back in February, a look at the Czech Republic’s remarkable run to men’s hockey gold in the 1998 Nagano Olympics. We’ll see what else they do in this series, but they’re certainly investing in it, especially with the people involved. And that’s part of the growing spread of sports documentaries, which has created a whole lot of options for fans.