Even non-boxing fans recognize the names Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson; at least in the United States, these athletes have become icons. The feats of boxer Julio César Chávez, record holder for the most title defenses, as well as most championship fights, are perhaps even greater. He is famous in international boxing circles, having held five world titles after beginning his career, with a near-record 89 straight professional wins. But like Ali, in his native Mexico, Chávez is more than a boxer. He has become a national hero and, as a small town boy who made it big, a symbol of success. One of 10 children, Chávez's rise to fame and prominence was not guaranteed. He became one of the best in boxing through determination, hard work and more than a few tough fights. Actor Diego Luna (Y Tu Mamá También, The Terminal) moves behind the camera for the first time and creates this intimate portrait of both the boxer and the man. While Luna gives the viewer enough history to provide a foundation, Chávez is no simple biography. After an outstanding record, Chávez retired from boxing, only to return a few years later for a farewell tour. The film's action shows the fighter's career, and his relationship with promoters like Don King and Bob Arum, but the heart of Chávez rests firmly in his first retirement, during which Chávez found enormous joy teaching and watching his son, Julio Cesar Chávez, Jr., follow in his footsteps. Luna clearly loves and honors this icon, and his infectious devotion infuses Chávez, and the audience, with admiration for the legend and the man. Copresented with the Mexican Cultural Institute and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.
Director's Statement Collapse
One day, almost a year and eleven months ago, I was sitting at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was there to see José Luis Castillo fight. That evening was important for me because it was the first time I was going to watch a live boxing match. I was a few meters away from two men who -- with fists, courage and intelligence -- were struggling in the difficult art of defense and attack. It was a spectacle that I had not seen since Julio César Chávez crushed down his rivals while the whole country stopped to admire him -- to dream with our great champion.
Boxing is a truly powerful sport. From the seats you go through an intense experience from which you cannot come out indifferent. A cumulus of images get stuck in your mind forever -- it is a disturbing show. That night Chávez was born. Next to me, on the second row, was my hero, the hero of millions: The great Julio César Chávez. For the first time in my life I felt I had a story to tell. It was the opportunity to talk about a whole era in my country, about the foundations of what we are living today. I was interested in exploring the themes of fame, success and power.
This is not a story about boxing. It is through boxing that we can reflect upon human behavior and an inexhaustible subject matter -- the father-son relationship.