Directed by Mark Brown Starring Colin Wood, Phil Bousfield, Paul Robinson Documentary Film Review by Phil Slatter
There is something very slightly misleading about the full title of Wheeled Warriors: The Rise of Wheelchair Boxing; it isn’t really about the rise at all but the very birth of a sport you probably won’t have heard of.
Taking a fly-on-the-wall approach, writer/director Mark Brown follows promoter Colin Wood in his attempts to stage the first ever wheelchair boxing match in the UK in 2016. While the 2012 Paralympics broke records and boundaries in the UK in terms of demonstrating that the competitors were actually elite sportsmen and women competing at the top level rather than just individuals struggling with disabilities, there are no para-martial arts in the Paralympics. The ultimate goal seems to be to change that, and here we see why and how wheelchair boxing began, despite it being very much in its early days.
Every aspect is examined – from the logistical implementation of the fight and the necessary adaptions of the wheelchairs themselves to the selection of the two individual fighters. It’s a journey in which Brown and Wood leave few stones unturned and subsequently the story arc is dramatic, the subject matter interesting and the emotional themes are poignant.
Sport is often an outlet for the struggles and frustrations of life for people who are disabled or not, and it is quite clear that Colin Wood’s aim is to provide that, in spite of controversies, logistical issues and opposition that may stand in his way.
As the first part of this journey reaches its conclusion we come to see that this is a film about determination – the determination of the competitors Paul Robinson and Phil Bousfield to compete in sport despite their disabilities, the determination of individuals like Wood and others to make it possible and the determination to open people’s eyes to the sport.
Wheeled Warriors certainly does that, and in years to come wheelchair boxing may well become a Paralympic sport. This indie film may not only demonstrate the very genesis of the sport but may, as an entity itself, vastly help the sport on its journey.