The Champion

The Champion is a short documentary about an Iraqi boxing athlete who creates a new life for himself in the US. The 18 minute film is featured on and you can watch it here.

The movie revolves around Estaifan Shilaita – A man who radiates charisma and positivity, you can’t help but feel happy to meet him. We observe him in his taxi chatting with his passengers asking them to guess where he is from. “Our culture, we used to control the whole world.” playfully referencing ancient Babylonian times. Nobody guesses where he is from. This is modern day Chicago. Americans perceive Iraq in very different shades than how we dream of our own country.

This is no Iraqi version of Rocky. This champion follows his dreams. Instead of fame, success and money finds something else. Happiness, contentment, beautiful family, a touching love story. I found myself feeling envious of his taxi passengers. Somehow, I have the feeling that a ride in his cab would brighten even a most gloomy day.

I truly enjoyed watching this short. My only critique is that I wish the movie spent more time inside Shilaita’s taxi. The friendly banter with passengers was fun to observe.

The Champion is directed By Patrick McGowan & Brett Garamella

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