SOUTHPAW -- *** -- Documentary on Irish boxer Francis Barrett; featuring interviews with Barrett, Chick Gillen, Luigi Leo and others; not rated, probable R (violence, profanity, ethnic slurs); exclusively at the Loews Cineplex Broadway Centre Cinemas.

Normally, you might think it's a fatal mistake for a movie about boxing to feature so little boxing action. But "Southpaw" is not your typical boxing movie. And that's not just because this heady, sometimes moving tale is a documentary -- and a pretty good one at that.What separates this film from others in the genre is that there's just enough character, just enough intrigue for "Southpaw" to get away with skimping on the boxing scenes -- though there a few toward the end.

If the film does have a fault, it may be that it's a bit too talk-heavy for fight aficionados. Also, the thick accents of those interviewed sometimes make deciphering their comments a bit difficult; including subtitles for the sake of clarity might not have been a bad idea.

"Southpaw" is about Irish fighting prodigy Francis Barrett. First-time documentarian Liam McGrath followed the fighter to his tryouts for Ireland's Olympic boxing squad as Barrett hoped to join in the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.

But what makes Barrett's struggles different from many other Olympic hopefuls is that he is a "Traveler," a member of Ireland's Gypsy community, who lives without electricity or running water -- and, of course, lacks proper training facilities.

Remarkably, Barrett does make the team, and he goes to Atlanta, boxing as a light welterweight and becoming a national hero (revealing more of this part would spoil the story for those who don't remember how far Barrett went).

The film's second half picks up Barrett's story as he continues his boxing career in London, trying to pick up both Irish and English titles and moving up one weight class. Unfortunately, that takes him away from his new bride, as well as his longtime coach, Chick "The Barber" Gillen.

Again, it's a terrific story -- and one you'd swear had been fabricated if you didn't know better. (In fact, none of us should be surprised if the central story here winds up becoming the basis for a feature film.)

It helps that Barrett is an articulate spokesman for his country and especially for his misunderstood fellow Gypsies (Irish character actor Eamonn Hunt's simple narration also explains the history behind the Travelers).

And while not all of the interviews are that interesting, those that are less interesting are thankfully brief.

"Southpaw" is not rated but would probably receive an R for boxing violence, use of profane language (including the so-called, "R-rated" curse word) and ethnic slurs. Running time: 77 minutes.