Any sports fan knows that boxing is a savage sport. Even those unaffiliated with it in any way are likely to come to that conclusion. It is also known as the “sweet science” and it takes skill, passion, hard work, mental toughness, and physical strength to step into the ring and face an opponent. To create a better life, to become a champion, to support a family, to fulfill a dream; all of these are reasons one enters into the sport. But what is often overlooked is what takes place outside of the ring, after the spotlight is off. The physical toll that takes place on one’s brain, the mental fight that boxers deal with in their daily lives. These are the sides exposed and examined in the boxing documentary After The Last Round.
The film opens to the usual sights one acquaints with a sport that was once side-by-side with baseball as the most popular sport in America. From the gladiator stadium in Rome to the present day, the body blows, haymakers and knockouts that one often associates with the sport; all of that excitement and brutality is on display. After The Last Round documents the situations of five individuals who have all been into the ring, the effects that choice has had on themselves and their families, whether cautionary tale or success story.
Denny and Phil Moyer were brother boxers who entered into the ring in the 50’s at the behest of their father. Both men have suffered an inordinate amount of brain damage and their lives in recent years have left them a complete shell of their former selves. They while away in a retirement home, with only the most simplistic signs that they can still communicate. Essentially, they are living dead.
The film also follows Phil and Tony Bruno. Phil, a father to son Tony, who was seriously injured in a sparring match with a friend and now lives his life with half the side of his body in virtual paralysis. His thoughts are at a rudimentary level compared to where they were heading, when Tony was a strong academic at Colorado University.
DaVarryl Williamson is a fighter still going at 38 years old, hoping for one last shot at fulfilling his dream of a world title. He once lost a title shot on an accidental head butt against then Heavyweight Champion Vladimir Klitschko. With the undying support of his wife, he soldiers on hoping to reach his goal. Kelsey Jeffries, a female fighter who was never close to people, has achieved the titles and looks towards life after boxing. Their stories all unfold for us to see.
Some of the sport’s preeminent writers, doctors, neurosurgeons and even clips of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, all help to serve the story. The film jumps around a bit but its well put together. In its own way, it attempts to evenly lay argument for those opposed, and for, the sport of boxing. It’s not a surprising film by any means, but it’s eye-opening nonetheless and a worthy watch for fans of boxing, documentaries, or the human condition. The best way to track down info on the film is via its website.
Of Note: I was fortunate enough to watch this film at an intimate screening benefiting the Retired Boxers Foundation. The organization was headed up by Alex “The Bronx Bomber” Ramos, a man who has suffered frontal lobe damage due to his fight career. With the support of Bull Durham director Ron Shelton, the foundation was able to get on its feet a decade ago. Several notable men of the sport were in attendance and spoke; the likes of referees Don Cortes and Richard Steele, champions: Tony “The Tiger” Lopez, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, legendary Ken Norton and even a former NFL star Dwight Hicks. They all spoke about the effects of damage from their sports, their careers, and the film. It was both engaging, spirited and sad at the same time. I encourage you to look into the Foundation and donate if the mood so strikes you. There is no question that countless former ring warriors could use the support.