Leandro “Wolf” Ataides is a movie fanatic who loves to relax with a film in his downtime.
The Brazilian star has spent a lot of time living away from his family and friends while coaching and training in Asia, and escaping into a story on the screen is one way he keeps his mind busy outside of the gym.
His tastes are wide-ranging – from laugh-out-loud capers to emotive science-fiction flicks — as long as the movie can keep him entertained.
Here are five of the middleweight contender’s all-time favorites.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ataides’ favorite film features fearless warriors, sacrifice, and courage.
“My number one movie is 300. It gives me lots of emotions,” he reveals.
In the 2008 blockbuster, an elite band of Spartans — led by Gerard Butler as Leonidas — face off against certain death at the Battle of Thermopylae.
Despite being massively outnumbered, those Spartans stand their ground and battle to the very end, no matter how stark things look.
“It shows us that we need to fight for what we want in life,” the mixed martial arts superstar asserts.
“It gives me the inspiration to keep my mind focused, to be a man, to be a father, to be a husband, and to be human.”
Next on “Wolf’s” list is 2009 comedy The Hangover, which features a group of friends who travel to Las Vegas to celebrate an upcoming wedding.
Things quickly get out of hand when the “Wolfpack” lose the groom and have to retrace their steps from the night before – with hilarious results.
“The Hangover is one of my favorite movies to watch. It just makes me laugh a lot,” the five-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion says.
“Alan, the bearded guy, he is the one I like the most. I thought he was so funny. After I watched this, I went to find [Zach Galifianakis’] other movies that he has acted in. He’s great!”
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The 1999 science-fiction smash hit The Matrix combined fantasy with reality for a young Ataides, and the film has remained on his most-viewed list ever since.
In the movie, Thomas Anderson — also known by his hacker alias, Neo — uncovers the truth about a simulated reality that enslaves humans as an energy source for intelligent machines.
“I like fantasy things like The Matrix. I was so shocked when I first saw it. I just said, ‘Wow!’” the Rio de Janeiro native recalls.
“For me, I like technology. I like to take pictures and make movies. I studied technology and devices before I was just a fighter, so I think it is pretty awesome.
“It just made me think the whole film was pretty amazing. I really love this movie.”
Ataides likes his science fiction with a side of human compassion.
“Another movie I like is Armageddon with Bruce Willis. I really love how he gives his life for the rest of the humans,” he says.
“Wolf” knows what it’s like to sacrifice for others, and he can appreciate why Willis’ character, Harry Stamper, makes his choice.
“Being honest, yes I did cry,” Ataides admits with a laugh.
“Because he has a daughter, but he sacrificed his life so everybody else could be happy. It’s amazing. Very emotional.”
The Pursuit Of Happyness
The final film on the Brazilian’s list is The Pursuit Of Happyness, the 2006 biographical drama starring Will Smith in the lead role as Chris Gardner.
“I love Will Smith. He’s a good actor, and he seems like a good person, too. This film can give everyone a lot of motivation,” Ataides says.
In the movie — which is based on real-life events — Gardner struggles to make ends meet as a salesman and his marriage breaks down, but he lands an unpaid internship with the chance of a lucrative stockbroker job at the end of it.
However, his wife leaves him, he loses his home, and he has to raise his son despite a dire financial situation. Gardner sticks with it, lands the job ahead of 20 other candidates, and turns life around for himself and his young son.
“Wolf” took motivation from the protagonist’s struggles and applied them to his own life.
“This movie gives you some purpose for your life. You have to be focused, even when everything is damaged,” he says.
“[Gardner] shared his time with his job and taking care of his kid. He worked hard, he did his job, and everybody had to applaud him in the end.”