The 5 Best Sports Documentaries That Every Man Should See

 Do Something
(Image credit: Unknown)

With the new, imaginatively titled Cristiano Ronaldo flick, Ronaldo, hitting cinemas this week, the Men’s Fitness team selects the sports-related docs that get their blood pumping, their hearts racing, and their popcorn popping...

Living With Lions (1999)

What goes on tour, stays on tour – then gets packaged into a raw, all access behind-the-scenes film upon which all subsequent British and Irish Lions rugby tours (and documentaries) are measured. Living With Lions is the antithesis to pandering docs that gave you a glimpse of life in the rarefied air of professional sport but tell you nothing. Above all, it encapsulated the power of the Lions jersey: to transform a partisan bunch of men used to pulverising each other during the Six Nations into an unbreakable team capable of demolishing the fearsome South African world champions on their hostile home turf. Shockingly, a lot of the team building revolves around boozing.

Sam Rider, MF fitness editor

Murderball (2005)

An inspiring and uplifting look at the brutal sport of quadriplegic rugby – and the realities of daily life for the wheelchair-bound athletes who play it. This insightful doc examines the intense rivalry between the American and Canadian teams in the run up to the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, focusing on the Canuck’s coach – slighted former American player Joe Soares – and his quest for revenge.

Ben Ince, MF deputy editor

The Crash Reel (2013)

I’ve only ever cried three times in front of the TV: first when Free Willy finally made it over the sea wall; then when Mel Gibson yelled "Freedom!” in Braveheart, and most recently during this, a phenomenal tale of snowboarding, catastrophe, recovery and determination. This inspiring and shocking doc tells the tale of Kevin Pearce, a one-time rival to winter sports golden child Shaun White, who, after a coma-inducing crash, is left with one life-changing choice: to give up on the sport he lives for, or get back on his board and risk his life. 

Chris Sayer, content director 

Choke (1999)

Helio Gracie may have founded Brazilian jiu jitsu, and his son Royce may have brought it to the Western masses at UFC 1, but arguably the greatest champion to ever emerge from the famous fighting family is elder brother Rickson  (pronounced HICK-son). This film follows him as he gears up to, and competes in, Vale Tudo Japan 1995, a groundbreaking international no-holds-barred fighting tournament. Gracie’s holistic approach to training is fascinating, as is looking back at the nascent days of MMA where promoters would shift the rules at the last minute to protect their marketable fighters. While it’s clear from the off that Gracie is in another league to most of his fellow competitors, the chance to look into the lives and motivations of the men trying to scrape a living in the most of extreme of combat sports is truly eye-opening.

Matt Huckle, MF features writer

All This Mayhem (2014)

Ever heard of the Pappas brothers? Neither had we before watching this film that charts the rise (and fall) of Australia's biggest vert ramp skating exports. Fuelled by unbounded enthusiasm and enough drugs to make Hunter S. Thompson worry for their health, All This Mayhem shows how Tas and Ben Pappas emerged from poverty to make it over to America and compete in the X-Games. The documentary reveals a nasty side to the corporatisation of skateboarding, shows how following your dreams doesn't always end in happiness, and starts with one of the best opening lines from any documentary ever. “There's three sides to any story: my side, your side... and the truth.” 

Max Anderton, MF head of digital content

Ben Ince

Between 2010 and 2016, Ben was the deputy editor of Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Ben also contributed exclusive features to Coach on topics such as football drills, triathlon training plans and healthy eating.