Chuck Wepner: The True Story of Rocky Balboa

The “Bleeder of Bayonne” was his nickname and Charles Wepner his name. As a boxer his record is almost unknown, but he had the opportunity to face the most famous boxing champion of all time: Muhammad Ali. It was a match in 1975 that inspired the main character in the 1976 film, Rocky. This is his story.

Charles “Chuck” Wepner, American boxer born on February 26, 1939 in Bayonne, New Jersey, competed in the heavyweight category from 1964 to 1978. His record was nothing special. Throughout his career he had 35 wins (17 of them by KO), 2 draws and suffered 14 losses. He became number 8 in the world ranking of heavyweights.

1650424749 113 Chuck Wepner The True Story of Rocky Balboa

On a technical level, he had nothing remarkable since his style was clumsy, rough and hard-hitting. His nickname “The Bayonne Bleeder” arose from the ease with which his eyebrows used to begin to bleed profusely during fights, forcing the referees to stop the fight even if Wepner was fit to continue. . He himself assures that he received 338 stitches in his eyebrows throughout his career.

Broadly speaking we can say that he was not a great boxer, but he was a great loser. He fought and lost with the best fighters of his generation, like George Foreman (he beat him in the third round by TKO on August 18, 1969 at the Madison Square Garden), Sonny Lyston (June 29, 1970) or Joe Bugner (September 8, 1970).

Ali is knocked down by Wepner, the boxer who inspired Rocky.
Ali is knocked down by Wepner, the boxer who inspired Rocky.

Without a doubt his most famous defeat, and the one in which he was shown to have a jaw as hard as stone, was the one he suffered at the hands of Muhammad Ali on March 24, 1975 for the World Heavyweight Championship at the Richfield Coliseum from Ohio. Wepner lasted 15 rounds in addition to throwing Ali, when the champion had promised that his rival would fall in the 3rd round.

The fight began with Muhammad Ali dominating his rival, while Wepner only defended himself; However, in the ninth round, the challenger decided to attack Ali with all his forces. Bleeding as usual, Wepner resisted the champion’s attacks. An accurate blow from the challenger throws Muhammad Ali to the canvas for the first time in many years, which surprises the public. Muhammad Ali, the champion, “the greatest” has just been knocked down by a “Don Nobody” with the boxing style of a caveman. The referee starts the count until the referee gets up.

Once on his feet, Ali continued his increasingly powerful attack on Wepner, but Wepner would not go down, resisting until the fifteenth round, the final round. Wepner’s stubborn resistance continues to surprise everyone, as world champion Muhammad Ali was not expected to go to such lengths to bring down an old and unknown challenger. Nineteen seconds before the final bell, the champion’s flurry of blows made Wepner bend the knee and he lost by technical KO.

Wepner represented boxers from neighborhood clubs, with more courage than technique and above all a fighter’s heart that was willing to leave everything in the ring. The fight that pitted Wepner against Ali inspired Sylvester Stallone to create Rocky, the most famous boxer in the history of cinema. The actor idolized Ali but when he saw Wepner’s courage, he was impressed. Three weeks after the fight he had the original script for the movie written. Rocky.

Stallone announced that the character of Rocky reached its end and will have its last appearance in creed II: “Even though it breaks my heart, unfortunately all things must pass… and end. I love you, kind and generous people, and the most wonderful thing of all is that ROCKY will never die because he lives in you … ”, he communicated on his account. Instagram.



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Chuck Wepner: The True Story of Rocky Balboa


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