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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Southpaw
Directed by Liam McGrath
The Shooting Gallery 04/00 DVD/VHS Documentary
Not Rated

This documentary by Liam McGrath charts two years in the life of Francis Barrett, a nineteen-year-old boxer who was the first Traveller ever to represent Ireland in the Olympics. The young man from Galway won his first title at age fourteen and by the age seventeen had won four consecutive junior titles.

We meet Barrett in training near his trailer park home. As a Traveller, he's a member of a vagabond community that is scorned throughout Ireland. Barrett qualifies for the Irish Olympic Team under the tutelage of Chick Gillen, his trainer. He wants to be successful in the ring "so the world will sit up and take notice."

McGrath takes us to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics where Barrett is selected to carry the Irish flag in the opening ceremony. Although he wins his first fight convincingly, he loses the second. The rest of the documentary shows how Barrett's mettle is tested after the glory days in Atlanta. He learns to come to terms with defeat, moving to England with his new wife, changing trainers, and trying to decide whether or not to make a run for the Sydney Olympics. Southpaw is a thought-provoking film about sports as a training ground for character and a testament to patience as an athlete's best friend.

 

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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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