By Randy De La O
The Ring, directed by Kurt Neumann, is a simply told tale of a young Mexican American from East Los Angeles, Tommy Cantanios (Lalo Rios) who stumbles into the world of boxing after being observed in a street fight by fight manager Pete Ganusa, (Gerald Mohr). Tommy takes the moniker Tommy Kansas as his fighting name and begins a career in boxing. After being heralded by both his younger brother and his cronies, he goes as far as his talent will take him, which is not far at all, and he begins a losing streak from which he cannot recover. Because he is fighting as much for his family as himself, Tommy refuses to quit boxing, hoping to make enough money to help his father start a business.
Though this movie will never win any awards it is notable for many reasons; first there is the early appearance of legendary actress and entertainer Rita Moreno, as Tommy’s girlfriend, Lucy Gomez, who is dead set against him fighting. Secondly, the movie attempts to tackle the subject of racism and bigotry, sometimes accurately and sometimes awkwardly. Thirdly, for afficionados of early Los Angeles, the opening shot of the Los Angeles City Hall, once the tallest building in the Los Angeles skyline, will evoke memories of an earlier time. Finally, there is the appearance of two of Los Angeles’ most popular fighters from the 1940’s and 1950’s, Art Aragon and Keeny Teran. Teran is prominent in many of the gym scenes. The gym itself is the old Los Angeles’ Teamsters Gym and the fight scenes are from the long gone Hollywood Legion Stadium. Aragon is the final opponent for Tommy.
After a turn of events in which Tommy finds himself as a substitute in a high profile fight against Art Aragon, who plays himself,, Tommy is beaten into submission and decides to retire. The movie reaches the climax of it’s morality tale when Tommy sees his younger brother shadowboxing, hoping to be a fighter himself one day. Tommy takes the gloves and rushes to the incinerator (remember those?) and burns his boxing gear. Metaphorically putting an end to his career and his brothers hopes of following in his footsteps.