There is something about boxing movies that makes for riveting viewing. It is never the physical punishment or brutality that holds our attention - rather the memorable characters and the personal struggles they go through - both mental and physical that leave us wanting more. As one of the world's oldest sports (early boxing can be traced to ancient Greece and Roman times), boxing has remained in the mainstream consciousness for generations and been the subject of regular attention from Hollywood and the film industry. The following list is a list of 5 boxing movies that have had the greatest impact on our society. Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this article if there are any movies that you think I have missed out on.

1. Raging Bull

Filmed completely in black and white, Raging Bull is a moving film about real life boxer Jake La Motta and his triumphs in the ring and struggles outside of it. Jake is played brilliantly by Robert De Niro, who put on an astonishing 70 pounds to display the physical presence of a former prize fighter. De Niro's acting ability leaves the viewer wondering constantly when the character will explode in a fit of rage. All in all, Raging Bull is a violent but also sad story of a fighter who struggled with his own personal demons of jealously and anger. The movie received mixed reviews on release but has since gained a following and reputation as being one of the greatest movies of all time.

2. Rocky

No boxing movie list would be complete without a mention to the famous fictional character Rocky Balboa. Although I was tempted to mention Rocky IV on this list, I still think this movie is the most important and best movie of the franchise. The movie follows the unexpected rise of journeyman boxer Rocky, who by chance manages to get a surprise shot at the world title. This movie is memorable for the scene where Sylvester Stallone runs up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art during a training montage. Simply put, Rocky is a must have for any movie buff's collection.

3. Million Dollar Baby

Going against the grain, Million Dollar Baby chooses to focus on the female side of boxing, with Hillary Swank cast in the main role as 'Maggie', an underdog female boxer who convinces an old time trainer (Clint Eastwood) to train her. The movie focuses on Maggie's rise to being a top fighter and has a big twist towards the end which promises to be a tearjerker. A must see for any true boxing fan.

4. Cinderella Man

Most of the best boxing movies tend to borrow from real life stories. Cinderella Man is one of those movies – the story is based on the life of James J. Braddock who is played by actor Russel Crowe. What makes this story special is it set during the Great Depression and follows Braddock's career of ups and downs and his struggle to not only return to boxing but his troubles to support his family. Cinderella Man is a great story of someone facing adversity and having the courage to rise above it.

5. The Hurricane

Like Cinderella Man, The Hurricane is based on a true story – that of Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter (played by Denzel Washington), a boxer who was convicted of triple murder – a charge which was eventually overturned after he spent 20 years in prison. Like any Denzel Washington movie, the acting is superb and the plot's focus on Carter's struggle to have his case heard makes for compelling viewing. Although the movie has been criticised about its factual errors, it still makes for a great boxing movie nonetheless.