Do the Pain Revolution: Wherein I Join the Pop Culture Happy Hour Crew for a Sober Discussion of Real Steel, and also of the Rather Startling Ascendancy of Robot Boxing Generally

I teach a weekly boxing class. Though I do cover the fundamentals of the Sweet Science, and participants do get to glove-up and practice punching combinations with partners holding focus mitts, it’s primarily a fitness class, not a curriculum for someone who’s serious about trying to compete in the ring.

I hope you’ll agree those credentials are at least (and perhaps at most) sufficient to lend my discussion of Real Steel, and of the exciting new sport of robot boxing in general, a certain authority. At least the NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour crew — Monkey See blogger & show host Linda Holmes, Music Editor Stephen Thompson, Movies Editor (and my fellow Washington City Paper theatre critic) Trey Graham, Producer Mike Katzif, and books & comics critic and funniest-man-on-Twitter Glen Weldon — saw it that way. I was honored to join them on this week’s episode, wherein we gab about the very best robot boxing movie I have ever seen.

I sit out my favorite-ever installment of the Regrettable Television Pop Quiz, then rejoin the group to talk about Dewey Bozella, an inspiring figure who spent half his life in jail on a phony murder conviction. Two years after his release he is, at the age of 52, making his professional boxing debut in Los Angeles tomorrow. He says that win or lose, it’ll be his only professional bout. The amount of money he stands to take home is said to be in the very low four figures. I hope someone pays him a lot more than that for the film rights to his life, which sounds a lot like two Jim Sheridan-Daniel Day-Lewis movies, 1993’s In the Name of the Father and 1998’s The Boxer, fused together. But both those movies are good, so.

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