Four-time Lightweight Mixed Martial Arts World Champion “The Underground King” Eddie Alvarez always trains hard, but after those long workout sessions, he loves to kick back and enjoy a movie just like the rest of us.
The 36-year-old, who is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, is a film connoisseur whose tastes are as diverse as his skill set. In fact, his favorite movies cross various genres and span over a couple of decades.
In this exclusive interview, Alvarez talks about four of his favorite films, all of which could give you some inspiration for at-home entertainment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cinderella Man (2005)
It should not be surprising that a film with a focus on boxing appears on Alvarez’s list of favorite movies, but this feature has more to do with the emotional journey Cinderella Man provides its viewers.
The critically acclaimed Russell Crowe feature took its title and inspiration from former Heavyweight World Champion boxer James J. Braddock.
Braddock retired from “the sweet science,” but he struggled to make ends meet during the Great Depression in the 1930s. He was coaxed back into the ring and then defied the odds by winning World Title gold, which inspired Alvarez in his own mixed martial arts career.
“Fighting is a difficult life to go through with, even during a good time in the economy. But to have to bring yourself and your family [up through] financial ruin during one of the worst times in financial history was something amazing. It was inspirational to watch,” the Philadelphia native explains.
“No matter how good we have it, it’s always good to look back at tough times in other people’s lives and see the less fortunate. It fills you up with gratitude, and it makes you more compassionate for people who are going through that.”
Having been through tough times himself, “The Underground King” connected with the motion picture like few could.
“Cinderella Man really hit home for me,” he continues. “I don’t come from a great place, so I had to literally fist fight my way to where I am today. I admire anybody else who makes their way through life with their hands.”
Gladiator is the second Russell Crowe-led film to grab a spot on the list.
The Ridley Scott-directed classic took home five awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, at the 73rd Academy Awards.
Crowe plays the role of Maximus Decimus Meridius, the former general of the Roman army who later becomes a slave, competes as a gladiator in the ancient Coliseum, and then seeks revenge on the new Caesar, Commodus, who previously ordered the deaths of Maximus’ wife and son.
Alvarez makes a distinct connection with the movie because of his unique perspective as an athlete who has had to make the walk into battle.
“When [Maximus] is in the tunnel, about to come out, that’s always the moment in the movie that really gets me,” the American reveals.
“No one could ever really understand the moments of walking right into the unknown and into the uncertain, just holding onto a hope and belief that you’re going to stay alive.”
That moment, above all others, has stuck with Alvarez and made a lasting impression on him.
“There’s a real eerie, alone feeling inside, and you have to depend on your faith and hope to get you through that moment,” he continues. “So, when he is in the tunnel and warming up and runs out with his sword, that’s epic for me.”
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Step Brothers (2008)
The four-time Lightweight World Champion is not just a man of action and drama. He likes to have a laugh, too.
The comedy that Alvarez puts on his list of favorite movies happens to be one of the most popular flicks of the 2000s – Step Brothers, which stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as a pair of newly-minted 40ish-year-old siblings who cannot get along.
For 98-minutes, hilarious antics fill the screen with memorable moments and unforgettable quotes that embody memes to this day.
“The ultimate unconscious form of entitlement that these two guys have is hilarious. They completely are not of the real world,” the veteran says.
“They believe that their mom and dad should take care of them, and they’re 40 years old, but the ironic thing is that it’s the mom and dad’s fault. It’s what they did to the child that makes them be that way for that long.”
Ferrell’s comedic genius makes him one of the top stars to watch for Alvarez, but Step Brothers was special thanks in part to his co-star.
“Will Ferrell, to me, is one of the funniest human beings alive. Any movie he’s in, I’m going to watch,” he adds. “But Step Brothers, how he plays off John C. Reilly is incredible.”
The Lion King (1994)
Most people were not expecting Alvarez to put the 1994 animated musical film, The Lion King, on his list.
Well, be prepared for even more of a shock, as the American loves two of the key tracks from the Disney classic’s soundtrack – “Hakuna Matata” and “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King.”
In fact, he can’t decide which one he prefers.
“It’s a toss-up because ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King,’ whenever I join a promotion, I kind of play that to myself all the time,” he says with laughter.
“Regardless of the deep faith and belief I have in myself, I’m a patient man and will wait my turn. But eventually, I’ll beat everyone and have the title.
“The idea that it’ll be exciting, and the young lion (Simba) talking about how he just can’t wait to be king and how awesome of a king he’s going to be, that’s always a cool song for me.”
While “The Underground King” gets pumped up when he hears that Disney track, “Hakuna Matata” defines how he takes his day-to-day life – with no worries.
“‘Hakuna Matata’ is more of how I live my life. I don’t really focus on a lot of things I can’t control,” he offers.
“I’m not a hippie, but a lot of people would look at me kind of odd because I’ll be in very difficult situations, and my perspective is a lot different than others. It allows me to be happy, mostly anywhere in my life.”