Real-life raging bulls include the deceptively scrawny Cornishman, Bob Fitzsimmons beating the living daylights out of American Jim Corbett (handicapped, perhaps, by his cheeky cheese-wire shorts, above) and Jack Johnson - the first black heavyweight champion - slugging his way to victory over Jim Jeffries.
Also showing is the historic fisticuffs in 1938 between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, a contest which Louis had lost to the German two years previously, but whose subsequent victory against the darling of the Nazis ended in a triumph for democracy.
Round one of Battles of the Century starts at 6.30pm on Tuesday at the NFT and is introduced by Harry Mullan, boxing correspondent for the Independent on Sunday.
The BFI is not the only institution cashing in on the current release of sexy boxing documentary When We Were Kings. On Friday, a knock-out exhibition opens, aptly enough at Turnhalle, the first purpose-built gymnasium in this country. Exhibits in The Art of Boxing, hosted by adidas, include paintings, watercolours (see front cover), a stunning collection of photography (Muhammad Ali takes a tumble, below), as well as gloves and other sweat- stained memorabilia. Interactive artefacts, meanwhile, include a full- size boxing ring. So it's gloves off for this controversial sport and straight into the public arena for a bit of bare-knuckle cultural integration. Luckily, the only blows to the head you're likely to sustain during these two events are aesthetic.
Battles of the Century: Tue 6.30pm at NFT, London (0171-928 3232).
Art of Boxing from Fri to 18 Jun, Arts Depot, Turnhalle, 26 Pancras Rd, London NW1Reuse content