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Fighters Who Appeared In Movies And Television Shows That You Probably Did Not See!

It may, or may not, be surprising to learn that boxing can provide an alternative door to another career for some boxers. One such door can open up to the world of acting. The likes of Wladimir Klitschko, Andre Ward and Antonio Tarver have all been seen in high profile movies. But there are also those who take parts in somewhat obscure screen projects, whether the screen is big or small.

This editorial is going to be discussing 8 not so well known roles that particular fighters elected to take to showcase their dramatic skills.

Jake LaMotta – Maniac Cop (1988)

The man who fought the great Ray Robinson a total of six times, Jake LaMotta is known for his stint in movies which goes way back to the 1960’s. However, most of the pictures in which he found himself involved in are not well known. 1988’s Maniac Cop is one of them, even though it is actually one of the better low budget slasher films of that decade. LaMotta exits as quickly as he enters as a cop who arrests a couple of muggers that he assumes is responsible for what the main villain is up to. If you want to catch him then keep your eyes glued to the screen during the first 10 minutes!

Ken Norton – Knight Rider (1986)

Former WBC heavyweight champion, Ken Norton appeared in an episode of the 1980’s television series, Knight Rider during it’s fourth and final run. It was one of the more story driven episodes of the season, having Norton play a boxer who feels he has no choice but to fight again despite having suffered brain trauma that could potentially jeopardize his life. Other known faces of boxing make cameos including Don King and Jerry Quarry.

Sugar Ray Leonard – Riot (1996)

A mid 1990’s actioner, Riot has Ray Leonard play a cop who teams up with a partner to take down IRA handlers. While there are some decent action sequences, the cinematography for Riot is pretty poor with it looking like a made for television movie and featuring plenty of poorly lit scenes to a point where it’s hard to make out what is going on. Leonard, unfortunately, does nothing to elevate the whole thing with an unconvincing performance and only getting one opportunity for his character to participate in an action scene.

Jack Dempsey – A Wild Night (1925)

Hard to find, A Wild Night was Jack Dempsey’s first feature length film after having been in a series of short movies. In fact, the film is not only hard to discover. It’s also difficult to come across even a synopsis! What is known is that the original title for the project is Manhattan Madness and that the total duration of the movie is around 1 hour. Other than that, let me know if you can hunt down anything else about this one.

Joe Frazier – Ghost Fever (1987)

The first man to beat the great Muhammad Ali tried his hand at acting in a few movies and television shows. 1986’s Ghost Fever is a charming children’s flick that can be found on Youtube about some cops who find themselves battling ghosts. Joe Frazier plays a boxer (surprised?) who is determined to beat one of them in a match. Hilarity ensues. Well, maybe if you are 10 years old.

Mike Tyson – Black and White (1999)

Produced at the end of the 1990’s, this hip hop themed film sees Robert Downey Jr’s gay character hit on Mike Tyson, who, shall we say, does not respond in kind. It’s a scene that is hard to watch. It’s actually cringeworthy and it is hard to imagine why Tyson would take such a part. I can only assume he was bored while waiting for his next shot at the heavyweight championship.

Tommy Morrison – Cybill (1996)

The short lived show, Cybill sees Tommy Morrison in a mainly dialogue driven scene in an episode in which he plays the boyfriend (who boxes for a living) of one of the two main protagonist’s. In this case, Maryann Thorpe played by Christine Baranski.

Michael Bentt – Threshold (2005)

Still acting today, ex-WBO champion Michael Bentt played a detective in another short lived show named Threshold. The show ran from 2005-2006 and is a sci-fi themed one about an alien invasion. Bentt is still acting today although his last role was in 2022 at the time of this writing. He has managed to secure parts in hit movies such as the Muhammad Ali biopic, Ali starring Will Smith and Million Dollar Baby directed by Clint Eastwood.