ESPN Films’ new documentary Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible tells the story of a gym owner who teaches young girls and women how to box as a means of self defense. It goes far beyond that however, as it delves into the much bigger story of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) movement and how a community deals these devastating losses.
ESPN Films is known for telling incredible sports stories in a very entertaining and dramatic fashion. Most recently, their documentary series The Last Dance captured the attention of many for several weeks as we all relived the glory days of Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls.
Sometimes, the stories they tell are much bigger than sports though. On the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, young women are murdered or go missing far more frequently than in the rest of the country. In addition to Blackfeet Boxing Club owner Frank Kipp, Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible follows the family of Ashley Loring Heavyrunner, who went missing in 2017. We see their search for Ashley, long after the authorities have given up on her case.
In order to reduce this problem, Kipp teaches young women how to box as a way to defend themselves from potential attackers. Among his pupils are his own daughter, Donna, and 14-year-old Mamie Kennedy, both of whom were hopefuls for 2019 Junior Olympic National Tournament. The documentary focuses on both of them as well as they follow very different paths.
Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible is a heartbreaking and moving story. If you’re looking for an easy-to-watch, fun sports story, this is not going to scratch that itch. It is however, a very well-made documentary that tells a very important story and sheds more light on a movement that can only benefit from more attention.
Of course, the sports aspect of the documentary is secondary to the bigger and more important story, but it’s not completely lost. You’ll find yourself getting very invested in the futures of two young boxers as they come up from Blackfeet Boxing Club and look to make their names on a national stage. Their stories follow the overall themes of the documentary as a whole, with both of them experience both heartbreak and hope.
If I could describe Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible in one word, it would be “powerful.” In particular, the last 10-or-so minutes of the doc are very emotional and moving. It’s an important story that is being told in this documentary. It’s certainly not a lighthearted or fun watch, but it is entertaining and absolutely something worth watching, if for nothing else than to raise awareness of this movement.
Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible airs Tuesday, June 30th at 7:30 PM ET on ESPN.
Mike is a writer that has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.”