Documentary Review “Touch Gloves”

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First, the Recap:

Incontrovertible, unmitigated, unconditional commitment. When reaching for a dream and aspiring to a set objective, it takes that level of absolute, tireless dedication to achieve it.  It is challenging enough when we aim to push ourselves to this standard, but how much more impact does it make upon the life of another when we demonstrate that responsibility as it applies to them and their goals? At Haverhill Downtown Boxing based in Haverhill, MA, owner/operator Ray Hebert lives out this experience every day. Taking on his own passion for the sport, Hebert, along with club administrator Karl Hanson, create an atmosphere of learning, discipline, and community leadership emphasis for the city’s youth, helping them to become better people and avoid trouble.

Three of the gym’s varied-age/weight class fighters, Johnny, Eddie, and Andrew, among a myriad of others, showcase their growing skills under the tutelage of trainers Brendon Simonds, Randy Hebert, and Josh Couture, along with Ray himself. Patiently being taught how to not get hit, control their emotions, establish a work ethic, push themselves, and ultimately be prepared to encounter their first matches, it isn’t an easy path. Candidly illustrating that winning is not always accomplished and that listening is just as important as doing, each fighter has to face their strengths and weaknesses as they move forward, especially for those who are attempting to gain access to the pro ranks. As they all join is this journey to reach their potential, the achievements, mistakes, victories, and defeats all come together in a way that greatly proves the heart and compassion Ray and his team have to see lives changed.

Next, my Mind:

With its briskly shot, fluidly executed real-life narrative, director/editor/cinematographer Felipe Jorge’s 73-minute documentary becomes one of those films you cannot help but be greatly inspired by.  The genuine, heartfelt love and mutual regard for these youth is balanced by Ray and his trainer’s willingness to firmly test and confront them as well, pressing each to excel and find their own thresholds of desire for the sport while still acknowledging everyone is different and will start from diverse states (mental & physical), skill levels, and ambitions.

But, for those who do choose to truly propel themselves ahead and demonstrate the fortitude to potentially be great boxers, Ray and the trainers are likewise inclined to dig deeper and really adapt an in-your-face approach that’s still filled with a complete understanding and uncompromising fervor for the fighter, even in the hardest of training sessions or ringside “chats” during a bout. It’s this zeal and energy that makes them such a draw for the youth/young adults whose lives they touch.

The filming here is excellent, providing a visual look that suits the feature’s subject matter. It’s real, raw, and uncompromised, but in a most “all audiences”-friendly way which, frankly, is a nice change from some of the more overtly extreme content found in so many feature films. The interviews are carefully interjected throughout the story, whether in voiceover form or in front of the camera, and everyone’s sincere sharing about the hopes and purpose of Haverhill Downtown Boxing comes across with a deep conviction that encapsulates and exemplifies the entire reasoning for Ray Hebert and his crew to do what they’ve chosen to do for their city.

In total, “Touch Gloves” is a solid, greatly affirming, and needed documentary that epitomizes what our cities, States, and nation need more of–people making a choice to not just reach their own goals, but who then turn around and utilize those attainments to benefit others, especially our youth, and giving them the same impassioned determination, a positive way to explore it, and the realization of how important they are to the future generations that one day they also may lead down a better road.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!



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