One of my favourite sporting films is Blue Blood, Stevan Riley’s 2006 documentary about the annual university boxing match between Oxford and Cambridge. It is a lovely piece, full of insight and thoughtful observation. Plus, it contains a scene that makes me chuckle every time I think of it. Riley’s cameras follow the Oxford University Boxing Club for a year. Early in the term, a young philosophy undergraduate turns up in the gym. A bookish sort, he has the look of someone who might struggle to remain vertical in a strong breeze. But he has a plan: he is determined to demonstrate his theory that pain is all in the mind. As a thinker, he says, he is certain he has the mental capacity to outflank any hint of physical discomfort. And he’ll prove it by going into the boxing ring. Eyeing him up and down, the coach is reluctant...
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