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2 Apr, 2020 17:22

Sporting storylines: 6 stunning sports documentaries to enjoy during the coronavirus lockdown (VIDEO)

Sporting storylines: 6 stunning sports documentaries to enjoy during the coronavirus lockdown (VIDEO)

Struggling to get your fix of sporting action and drama? Fear not, as RT Sport's Simon Head picks out six outstanding sports documentaries to check out during the coronavirus lockdown.

With live sport becoming rarer by the day, sports fans across the world are struggling to get their fix of competitive action.

MMA fans can check out a huge back-catalog of combat sports action on UFC Fight Pass, while NFL, NHL and NBA all have similar online offerings featuring rolling news content, as well as highlight programming.

Aside from those options, there is a host of outstanding sports documentaries available across various platforms. RT Sport's Simon Head picks out six of his favorites...


ESPN's 30 For 30 sports documentaries are among the best you'll find anywhere, and "The Two Escobars" is arguably the best of the lot.

Featuring a warts-and-all telling of how Colombian football rose to prominence in the early 1990s, the film is a deep dive into how money from the Colombian drug cartels helped turn a below-par league into one of the most talented in the world at the time, and how the blurring of the lines between the cartels and the football pitch ended with Colombian international Andres Escobar's brutal murder following his own goal at the 1994 World Cup.

It's hard-hitting, it's shocking and it offers unprecedented access to the sort of people sports documentaries would ever get close to. For example, one of the regular talking-head interviews featured throughout the film is that of Khon Jairo Velasquez, better known as "Popeye," a Colombian hitman and mass murderer who was Pablo Escobar's right-hand man.


The rugby documentary that spawned countless spin-offs, "Living With Lions" took the viewer into the squad as the 1997 British and Irish Lions rugby union team toured South Africa.

The Springboks had a fearsome reputation at the time, and the Lions headed to South Africa knowing that their "warm-up" matches against provincial teams were basically dressed up wars, as the local stars looked to help their test-playing teammates with a succession of late hits, niggly fouls and even a little psychological warefare conducted through the press.

The "Living With Lions" cameras were running through it all, in the team meetings, inside the goosebump-inducing dressing room team talks and on the touchline during the matches themselves.

It's a long watch, but an ultimately rewarding one as you start to build an affinity with certain squad members through the process and suffer the agony and ecstasy of life on a month-long tour on enemy territory.


In a country where football is king, Ayrton Senna was a national hero to rival even the biggest Brazilian football stars, and his tragic death at the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in 1994 remains one of the biggest sporting tragedies of the last few decades.

"Senna" tells the story of the Brazilian F1 ace's life and career, with incredible footage of his races, in-depth tales of his rivalries, especially with French star Alain Prost, and features a host of the sport's biggest names.

If you're a fan of Formula 1, you've almost certainly watched "Senna", but you don't have to be a motorsport fan to appreciate his incredible, but tragic, story.

Quite simply, it's a must-watch.


Heavyweight boxing may be back in the headlines thanks to Tyson Fury, but the man who took the sport into the stratosphere was the great Muhammad Ali.

"When We Were Kings" looks back at one of the most iconic heavyweight title fights of all time, "The Rumble in the Jungle" as Ali looked to win back the heavyweight title from the terrifyingly powerful knockout artist George Foreman.

Featuring some incredible behind-the-scenes footage as the organizers looked to put on the event, and the music festival that preceded it, as well as a host of candid interviews with Ali, Foreman and some of the journalists who covered the event, "When We Were Kings" tells the story of one of the most significant single-day sporting events in history.


You'll watch this between your fingers at points, but you won't be able to take your eyes off the screen as seasoned climber Alex Honnold takes on the challenge of climbing the incredible El Capitan, a vertical rock face in Yosemite National Park, California. But for Honnold climbing "El Cap" is a walk in the park with all the required kit. This time he's attempting to do it without ropes.

"Free Solo" is a character study of Honnold, and what pushes a man to try something so difficult, that has such a grave penalty for failure. It's also fascinating to get the thoughts and reactions of Honnold's girlfriend, who knows many of her boyfriend's friends died "free soloing" in the past, and also of the documentary crew, who had to shoot the entire film in the knowledge that they could end up filming Honnold's death.

The documentary won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the 91st Academy Awards in 2018, which tells you about the quality of the story and the production. But if you still aren't 100% convinced, watch the trailer above. If that doesn't send you to YouTube or Disney+ in search of the full thing, I'll be amazed.


In the mid-1970s a new soccer team became the talk of the world when the New York Cosmos, a team in the North American Soccer League, signed the greatest player on the planet, Brazilian legend Pele.

Pele's arrival sparked an incredible upsurge in popularity in the game as the league started to attract big-name players and the crowds started to pack the stadiums across America.

Ultimately, that success would be shortlived, but the story of the team that sparked it all, the Cosmos, remains one of the most remarkable sporting stories committed to film.

"Once In A Lifetime" charts the story of the franchise, which started out from humble beginnings before the ambitious – and rich – owner took a gamble and hit the jackpot by signing the most famous sportsman on the planet.