The collective experiences of soldiers and warriors have always inspired others. The First World War resulted in a sea of artistic and cultural works, as did the modern wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because of this, soldiers have cemented themselves in popular culture, be it movies, online games, or paintings. But as we’ve seen over the past few decades, so too have professional boxers and MMA fighters.
The combat sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), which includes wrestling and boxing, was once a fringe sport, but over the years, fighters in the industry have become pop culture icons. Just look at Conor McGregor, whose ‘Billionaire Walk’ has become an integral part of pop culture. You recognize it from a mile away, and celebrities around the world have copied it on social media, including Paul Pogba.
And while an MMA fighter cementing himself or herself in popular culture is new, that’s not the case for soldiers. All we have to do is recall the G.I. Joe toy collection that peaked in the 1960s. The same goes for boxers: hip-hop artists have paid homage to these athletes, including the rapper known as Vinnie Paz. He named himself after the Rhode Island Boxer Vinnie Paz.
Game developers have also represented soldiers and fighters in online casino games, video games, and arcade games. In 1976, the video game Heavyweight Champ featured fist-fighting. In 1984, one-on-one martial arts games became popular. Then came Mortal Kombat, a fantasy-themed game that represents several different types of combat sports, including kickboxing, which fighter Jacqui Briggs uses. Boxing also features in the game.
The use of combat sports in video games like Mortal Kombat doesn’t just reflect the sport itself, but the entertainment that goes along with it. For instance, in Mortal Kombat, each fighter has a different entrance before the match. We see this today in boxing matches and MMA fights.
Online casinos also offer a range of war and military video slot games, where the reels take players back to World War I and II. That said, the concept of wizards and magical worlds remain at the top of the list for online casino slot games, like the Gemix slot at Genesis casino. Maybe it’s because wizard casino games like Gemix, which take players to an enchanted crystal mine where they can capitalize on features drawn from the Wizard world like World Wilds, use bright colors and upbeat music.
In Hollywood, we see portrayals of soldiers and fighters in non-fiction. But that’s not to say these individuals are not represented in fantasy films. There are fantasy movies like Captain America, which centers on the Second World War.
In this movie, Steve Rogers tries to join America’s armed forces but is rejected. He is later accepted into an experimental program that transforms him into Captain America, a super-solider. Captain America is a master at hand-to-hand combatant and martial artist and engages in combat with enhanced strength and reflexes. He also uses his armor to protect himself.
When fantasy movies with magic in them don’t focus on soldiers, you’ll often see portrayals of other real-life people, such as the Vikings. Movies with Vikings, such as Outlander, depict them as the ideal image of health and fitness: tall, muscular men who can also engage in combat sports.
It’s said that life imitates art more than art imitates life, but in the case of the representation of soldiers and fighters in popular culture and movies, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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