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Born and Bred: Boxing in the Blood and Bones

Merging immigrant hunger and Olympic dreams, “Born and Bred” offers a vérité portrait of three young Mexican-American boxers in East Los Angeles.

The boxing twins Javier and Oscar Molina
 in the documentary “Born and Bred.”
Estevan Oriol/Purebred Films

Beginning in late 2005 and filming over four years, the director, Justin Frimmer, immerses himself in this quintessential blue-collar sport and the lives of his striving subjects. For the shy 15-year-old Molina twins, the nerve-racking transition to the adult division means squaring off against fighters more than twice their age. But for the cocky 12-year-old Victor Pasillas — who hasn’t lost a fight in three years — defeat is not an option.

“That little lad don’t know fear,” marvels his proud coach, Rodrigo Mosquera, whose bond with this pugnacious youngster eases more personal disappointments. Delving into hair-raising family histories (the Molina boys’ mother entered the United States from Mexico in the engine compartment of a pickup truck) and a boxing tradition that in many cases spans generations, Mr. Frimmer highlights a culture of sport as safety net, offering a haven for vulnerable kids and peace of mind for their parents.

Hobbled by a filming style as raw as the talent on screen, Mr. Frimmer records the twins’ pray-and-pummel progress through Olympic-qualifying tournaments and crises of confidence. The fights are unexciting and the brothers uncharismatic, yet the film finds a soft, soulful center in their relationship with Robert Luna, a former Army Ranger and their longtime trainer.

Philosopher, counselor, mentor and strategist, Mr. Luna believes that the lessons learned inside the ring form the foundation for a happy life outside. Around him a sea of scrawny hopefuls, T-shirts bloodied and cheeks bulging with ill-fitting mouth guards, seem determined to prove him right.

Opens August 19th, 2011 in Los Angeles and New York

Source: NY Times

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