4.5 out 5 stars
One compelling aspect of cinema is that it exposes the world to lesser-known individuals, events and topics that might be worth engaging. The world of women’s boxing has had little representation in cinemas with the notable exception of Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award-winning, Million Dollar Baby. This subject matter tends to polarise people, but it is a sport that continues to grow in recognition and popularity. When it comes to women in boxing few names garner more attention than Ireland's Katie Taylor.
Boxing gyms were the playground that Katie grew up in as a child while her older siblings trained with their father. At an early age, she caught the attention of the boxing community. Her passion and skills in the realm of boxing led to extensive training and considerations for her to compete outside of the borders of the island nation. Katie’s drive and athleticism drove her to win six amateur European championships, five world amateur championships and she is an Olympic gold medal winner from the London 2012 Olympic Games. All under the tutelage of her father, their team proved to be a dominant force in this sporting community.
Then a series of family events occurred and the boxing champion was left without a coach, her career was in jeopardy and her family life was in shambles. This was one of the most humbling times of the fighter’s career and proved that she was vulnerable in her field. With the support of her family and relying on her strong Christian convictions, she decides to move to the United States. Katie looks for a fresh beginning with a new coach and the potential to go professional. A move that would prove to be one of the most significant and challenging in her lifetime.
Rarely does a documentary leap off of the screen and capture the imagination of this reviewer. With some of the credit going to director Ross Whitaker's storytelling abilities, but the majority of the enthusiasm for this film is based on the person of Katie Taylor. As a father of three daughters, there is little that would motivate me to get them involved in this sport. Yet, Katie’s story goes beyond the world of boxing. She is singularly focussed on the sport and proven to be one of its pioneers, but it is her character that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats until the final credits.
Whitaker’s film does deliver a balanced portrayal of this woman and the extraordinary commitment she continues to have for boxing. It shows her human side and frailties alongside the toughness and determination that moved her to become a world champion and an example to men and women across the sporting world. Despite having the drive to remain at the top of her game, she still manages to maintain her integrity, faith and love for her family. Even if you are not a fan of the sport or documentaries, this is a film that is worth considering for the sake of inspiration. Katie delivers an example of sportsmanship that is not seen in our modern era, but one that should be emulated.
REEL DIALOGUE: What should you sacrifice to reach your goals in life?
How much are we to sacrifice in light of achieving life’s goals? In the life of men and women throughout history, there is much to celebrate in their achievements, but who and what gets left in the aftermath? Missionaries, pastors, business leaders and politicians all have to consider these questions. Katie does beg the question, what would you be willing to sacrifice to reach the goals of your life? Regardless of how admirable these prizes may be, is there a limit to how far you are willing to go?
More importantly, who establishes those goals?
‘Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.’ Philippians 3:12-15