Because boxing is a considered an illegal and disreputable enterprise in 1880's San Francisco, wealthy and influential members of the prestigious Olympic Club vow to make the sport a "gentlemanly" one. They sponsor a brash, extroverted young bank clerk named Jim Corbett, who quickly becomes an accomplished fighter under the new Marquis of Queensbury Rules. Despite his success, the young Irish-American's social pretensions and boastful manner soon estrange him from his benefactors, who plot to give their conceited former protégé a well-deserved comeuppance. Despite this, his dazzlingly innovative footwork helps him to beat a succession of bigger and stronger men, and he finally finds himself fighting for the world's championship against his childhood idol, John L. Sullivan.
The grandest story of the Naughty "Nineties" becomes the gayest picture of the Fighting "Forties!"
Did You Know?
Joe Choynski is shown as a big brute. The real Choynski was a middleweight who never weighed over 155 lb., and was much smaller than Corbett. See more
We'll take in a few clean-cut boys from good families, and if we can't make you fighters into gentlemen, we'll try to make some gentlemen into fighters.
Also available in a computer colorized version. See more
Referenced in Seven Days in May
Music by Stephen Foster
In the score during the riverboat scene See more