Seb Zewdie is a man who’s seen his dreams vanish. Formerly an Olympic boxer from Ethiopia, Seb’s Olympic moment was destroyed by Russia and their allies boycotting the ’84 Los Angeles Olympics. Perversely, 33 years later fate has since conspired to make Seb a Los Angeles resident. Neighbour to a huge stadium that he was never allowed to fill, the fighter in Seb has never died and with his body failing him and his doctors urging caution, Seb still has a score to settle. Can he be satisfied training clients and UFC hopefuls or is the only way to banish the hurt, a comeback in the ring? With 80 days and counting in Danny Simmons’s documentary, you’re going to find out…
... if you're looking for an unpretentious, lovingly-shot documentary where the little guy tries to earn back his moment back from fate, then Suffer For Good is the way to do it.
To describe Seb Zewdie as “determined” seems almost an understatement. Blameless victim of political posturing, knife crime survivor and selfless immigrant, Seb has forged a new life for himself and his family in America. Letting other people’s fists now take care of business, there’s a restlessness behind each one of his training sessions. Cheated out of his moment and a lifetime’s ambition, Seb has instead poured himself into his proteges. Whether its Jared “The Jackhammer” Papazian, a promising UFC fighter who wants to become a full-time boxer or Jesse “juvenile” Merrit, a mixed martial artist making his up the rankings, Danny Simmons’s film communicates that everything is personal for Seb.
By never accepting any shortcomings or excuses with either himself or his students, it’s this unshakeable inner discipline become steadily more and more infectious the more Suffer For Good goes on. However, that’s not just for those that he teaches. In advanced years with shaky knees and a heart condition might even yet bar him from getting him in the ring, Seb wants another shot.
That said, never one to be blind to the truth of his own circumstances, this isn’t a case of romantic denial. Framed within a count-down structure, Danny Simmons’s twilight-lit documentary ticks off the days to Seb’s date with destiny. Unshowy and unburdened by any excess trappings or filmmaker flourishes, Suffer For Good is aware of the Raging Bull and Rocky mythologies without ever leaning on them hard. The reason for this is that once Suffer For Good starts, the personality of Seb takes over. Doing that thing that all the best documentaries do, Simmons’s collapses the filmmaking process around his subject so that only Seb and you remain.
Additionally arriving in a time when the pandemic is making so many people feel helpless, Suffer For Good is the right kind of documentary. Taking you out of yourself and showing you somebody struggling against more than pain, Seb’s showdown realistically doesn’t disappoint. Having been a mentor to so many people, it’s seriously satisfying to see his proteges there for him as the seconds are counted out.
So, if you’re looking for an unpretentious, lovingly-shot documentary where the little guy tries to earn back his moment back from fate, then Suffer For Good is the way to do it.
(Available on iTunes and all the rest)50