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Hosts Sylvester Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard give 16 young boxing hopefuls a shot at the big time in this Mark Burnett and Jeffrey Katzenberg reality drama. The Contender will delve into the lives of each of the boxers as they work their way to a million dollar paycheck and a career as a professional boxer. Written by
Round Robin Tourney in the Squared Circle. A "Reality Show" or Documentary of the Prize Ring in this, the 21st Century.
"Pugilism", "Fisticuffs", the "Sweet Science", "Boxing" or just the plain old "Fights", no matter what we call them, they go on and on, and seem to be thriving now, long after so many pundits had predicted their eradication.
Their brute primativity and link to our primordial past surely must have a lot to do with Boxing's seeming longevity and its appeal. It seems that the more sophisticated and "civilized" our World becomes, the more popular the Prize Ring becomes. And now with the influx of $how Bu$ine$$ Mega Buck$ via Broadcast and Cable TV Revenue$, we find there is more money than ever. As someone had observed, "...and there's even some money left-over for the Fighters!" With the growing popularity of the so called "Reality Shows" the coming of a Boxing Series chronicling all the behind the scenes happenings and preparations leading up to a Prize Fight was bound to come along. These guys on Creator Mike Burnett's team did it! They deserve the credit as well as the fruits of their labour.
Anyone who has been a Boxer or has been around them or known Boxers know just what an exclusive fraternity that they are. A man may have been retired from the Ring for years and years; and yet, when he observes a fight, he is all eyes for each round. His expertise and instincts dissect each bout, round by round; reporting his observations and suggestions for technique and strategy.* The Mike Burnett Production team knew that as little 'Star Power' can mean a lot to a series. So, they went out and sought to bring some very well known Name Performers on board for the shaping of the series. Ideally, they would have recognition in Movies/TV, the Sporting World as well as to the General Public.
The selections of the Multi-time Welterweight & Middleweight Champ, Ray Leonard gave the series a real solid foundation. With his background of accomplishment and youthful, still fit appearance he would be an ideal subject for a Television Host. His pleasing personality, his highly articulate speech all added up to the absolute right man for the right job.
As far as the second half of the co-host tandem, the Producer chose everyone's favourite fictional Boxing Champ, Philadelphia's Favourite (Fictional) Son, "The Italian Stallion"-Rocky Balboa (Himself), Sylvester Stallone. Sly, a life-long, super-fanatical devotee of Athletics, Physical Conditioning and Bodybuilding,was a near perfect companion co-host. Together the pair served as a conduit between the audience and the two camps of competing fighters.
Meanwhile, we are treated to the selection process, the training and the normally off screen occurrences are captured and chronicled by the all-seeing eye of the camera. We see the winning, the losing, the joy and the heart break experienced by the 'Contenders'. To borrow the most famous motto from "ABC's WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS", ".....the Joy of Victory and the Agony of Defeat!"** As far as a good crossover for those who are both into the Sporting World and Movies/TV, "THE CONTENDER" really nails it. It's our favourite (the 'our' being possessive case of the 'Editorial We'.)series of the 'Reality Type.' Here's hoping that it continues for some time.
NOTE: * This writer happened to be working in the Chicago Loop as a Foot Traffic Cop in the mid 1970's. During this Period(1973-78) I had the good fortune to meet and be able to visit with Mr. Leo Rodak, who was a former WORLD'S FEATHERWEIGHT BOXING CHAMPION. Being about the same age as my own Father, I found Leo to be sharp, highly energetic and very fond of telling stories of his Boxing Days and of his experiences in the Army in World War II. But, that's another Story!
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