Tag Archives: Rocky

My Top Six Underdog Sports Movies

Everyone loves a good underdog story, especially  in the world of sports. Although we celebrate feats of athletic domination (e.g. The Dream Team’s romp towards the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Gold, Manny Pacquiao’s various world titles in eight weight divisions, and Roger Federer’s 17 grand slam singles titles), unexpected triumphs elicit a more endearing emotional response.

Being a movie buff and a sports nut for around half my life, here’s a list of the sports movies I’ve enjoyed the most:

Wimbledon (2004)

Let’s be honest with each other here. I’m quite certain that every sports-minded fellow out there has felt some sort of superhuman boost in performance because of that thing called love. This movie takes the concept even further – much further at that, considering the stakes.


The Karate Kid (1984)

Who would’ve thought that waxing the car, painting the fence, and sanding the floor could instill martial arts fundamentals?


Rocky I (and Rocky III and Rocky IV)

No sports movie list is complete without Rocky. This is the granddaddy of all underdog sport movies, with its iconic training montages, barely-coherent Stallone slurs, and gory fictional fights-to-the-finish.


The Replacements (2000)

This is about getting an unexpected second shot at sporting glory – and making it count. Definitely my favorite Keanu Reeves film.


Miracle (2004)

I haven’t seen a live ice hockey game my entire life, but the sheer impact of one of the greatest upsets in sporting history resonates despite the differences in seasons. This is a classic David and Goliath story… on ice.


Rudy (1993)

This is, without a doubt, my favorite sports film of all-time. Sean Astin was fantastic in his portrayal of the headstrong protagonist. Jerry Goldsmith’s musical score made the movie even more memorable.



Pascal Behrenbruch and Dolph Lundgren

As a big fan of Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky” series, I could not help but notice similarity between the German decathlete Pascal Behrenbruch and the Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren, who played the unforgettable Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.


Photos from Erik van Leeuwen and Gage Skidmore

The German champion is one of the world’s best decathletes. After two consecutive finals appearances in the World Championships (2009 and 2011), the 1.96m-tall German won the European Championships gold in Helsinki last July. He amassed an impressive 8,558 -point personal best to clinch the gold medal. However, his Olympic debut was fraught with disappointment as he failed to match his Helsinki standard. Behrenbruch could only finish in 10th place in London.

If athletics were more like professional basketball, where players take on colorful nicknames, “Ivan Drago” or “Drago” would be appropriate!

Bill Conti – Going the Distance

Way back in the Christmas of 2003, I bought a complete set of the original five Rocky movies. The exploits of the rags-to-riches boxer fueled my desire to excel in athletics, not to mention fan the flames of a long-time interest in boxing.

I fell in love with Bill Conti’s dramatic, oftentimes triumphant score. Since then, the music from the series has become a staple in almost all of my pump-up play lists.

One of my favorites is “Going the Distance.” In my retirement, I have almost forgotten about the less popular themes of the movie. Whilst watching HBO’s 24/7 feature on the Mayweather-Mosley fight a few months back, I got goosebumps hearing the determination and perseverance so evident in the theme. Juxtaposed with the respective pre-fight training regimens of the two boxing greats, I began listening to “Going the Distance” again.

In the past ten months, I experienced the most challenging phase of my athletic career . The sheer difficulty was not because of physical factors. It was psychological, considering the fact that I train alone.

Indeed good, conducive workout music goes a long way in making a workout more meaningful and holistic.

Video credits:


The Eye of the Tiger

I’m excited as hell to compete again. In light of this competitive renaissance, I’ve been dusting off the cobwebs of my repertoire of pump-up songs – to get myself into the proverbial zone. Since’ I’m a fan of the Rocky series (except the last two films!), Survivor’s 80’s classic “Eye of the Tiger” has been a fixture in many a play list.

I’m planning to finally start the long-delayed 2010 season on 20 (or 21) November 2010 by taking part in the 100m dash. I’ll be running my first 110m high hurdles race by 4 (or 5) December 2010.

Download the 2010 PATAFA Weekly Relays Schedule and Entry Form here

For the first time in years, I’ll be competing without pressure of carrying the school colors and chasing a particular collective goal. Of course, there’s the pride factor. Since Filipino track & field athletes are mostly school-based, competitors rarely go beyond being 24 years old. Those older than 24 are either national team members or athletes aspiring to be part of the elite national training pool.

Being the elder statesman, I have a reputation to protect. In the final two years of my college days, I never went below 4th place in all of my sprint hurdle races (competing against the likes of UAAP record holder Orlando Soriano and three-time UAAP gold medallist Mike Mendoza, one is bound to get relegated to the lower rungs of the podium!). Despite our relatively slow times, we were the best sprint hurdlers in the country.

The current crop of track athletes were mere teenagers during seasons 2006 to 2007.

With my contemporaries, aside from the hard-working Robin Tuliao formerly of UST, long since gone, I am faced with an unfamiliar field. Come to think of it, I haven’t even competed against the top 3 sprint hurdlers of the UAAP! I am that old!

One can argue that going against U-23 athletes merits advantages in terms of physical maturity and experience. After all, at almost 25 years, I’ve been hurdling since 2000 – 10 years (minus the two years I spent retired). But there’s the rub! The time I spent away from the sport had stunted my hurdling proficiency. Even if the day-by-day improvement is rapid, I can’t deny the fact that I’ve been away for far too long.

As the date of my comeback draws near, I’m having mixed emotions of fear, self-doubt and enthusiastic exuberance. I know for a fact that the first two feelings are bound to disappear – as soon as I regain the eye of the tiger! As for the latter, it’s an emotion I last felt when I was in the midst of my breakout 2005-2006 season.

Whatever happens, I’m thankful for being a second chance to hurdle again – to do what I love best!

Video credit:


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