I am the real Rocky Balboa

His detractors believe that the boxing it is at the antipodes of the beauty contained in these verses by Baudelaire. “If I can’t reach the stars, I’ll catch a handful of clouds.” But sometimes the ring unites epic and lyrical, as the history of chuck wepnerthe real Rocky Balboa.

I didn’t have the muscles Sylvester Stallone he didn’t even call himself the italian coltotherwise Bleeding Eyebrows or The Bleeder of Bayonne. what of Bayonne it is because he was born in 1938 in this city of New Jersey. The rest needs no explanation. chuck wepner – wrote a chronicler – he ends his fights “in a sea of ​​purple, if not in a sea of ​​blood”. Throughout his career he received more than 300 stitches on his eyebrows. Their honors It lacks important titles. He had 35 wins (17 by KO), 14 losses and two draws.

Everything was epic in this boxer, except for his aliases: ”Bleeding eyebrows” and ”The bleeder of Bayonne”

His best triumph was a defeat, as he will explain in his autobiography, which he plans to publish in 2019. Never before has the expression “bitter victory and sweet defeat” been coined with such reason, as countless articles, essays, documentaries and films have recalled. , the latest Chuck, presented as “the true story of Rocky” and starring Liev Schreiber.

“My life, what a novel!” Napoleon said.

“My life, what a movie!” he might say.

On March 24, 1975, he faced off at the Richfield Coliseum in Ohio against Mohamed Ali, who five months earlier had regained the heavyweight crown from George Foreman in Kinshasa (then the capital of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo). Chuck Wepner, who was 37 years old and living in the twilight of a mediocre career, had agreed to fight the world champion. When Foreman lost the title in what was called the jungle fight, he thought his chance was gone. Foreman had accepted the challenge as an advertising diversion: the invincible and magnanimous fighter who gives a chance to a sparring partner.

Even the staunchest enemies of the sixteen string will admit that there is some poetic justice in the trajectory of the real Rocky Balboa.

Mohamed Ali, a master of self-promotion, did not want to be outdone and kept the evening going. The bets were as disproportionate as the gains of the opponents: 100,000 dollars for the applicant; 1.5 million for the champion. No one thought the heavyweight title was really on the line. Those who believed that the fight would be a procedure were in for a surprise. The robberies followed one another and Chuck Wepner was still on his feet. His style was crude. He took the blows like a sack and swung his arms, but he didn’t fall. Another would have hugged the body of the champion to avoid punishment. He does not.

And then the unthinkable happened. In the ninth round, the man who said: “The grass grows, the birds fly, I hit” fell to the canvas. The Bayonne bleeder knew that from now on he would also be The Man Who Knocked Ali Down. Until then only Joe Frazier had achieved something similar. The God of Boxing immediately got up and denied that he had been knocked down by a punch. An ESPN documentary, The Real Rocky, supports the thesis that he was a stumble. The rival, who will turn 81 in February, has also recognized this in his latest interviews.

Accidental fall or not, the truth is that logic did not prevail until there were 19 seconds left in the fifteenth and final round. One punch nearly knocked Chuck Wepner out of the ring. He grabbed the ropes to get up and, although he did it before the 10-second count was over, the referee pronounced sentence: technical KO.

Ali conquered Olympus.

Wepner conquered history.

And Stallone conquered Hollywood.

The actor, a semi-unknown, saw in the fight the germ of a great film, whose script he would write and star in himself. A loser who triumphed or a winner who lost. A year after Ali-Wepner, the life of a humble white boxer from Philadelphia, Rocky Balboa, who faced a braggart black champion, Apollo Creed, hit theaters. Rocky, directed by John G. Avildsen, won three Oscars: best director, film and editing.

Fans will discuss whether or not this title is close to classics such as Harder will the fall or Raging Bull, but it was a round deal: in January Creed II will be released in Spain, the eighth – and predictably, last – chapter of the franchise. As the series moved away from its origins, interest grew in Chuck Wepner, who only received image rights as a result of an out-of-court settlement with Stallone. The Bayonne bleeder retired in 1978. He owned a liquor store and his arrests and problems with alcohol and other drugs rounded out his cursed aura.

Boxing leaves no one indifferent. Either love or hate. But even the staunchest enemies of the sixteen string will admit that there is some poetic justice in the trajectory of the real Rocky Balboa, a nobody who nearly stripped a titan. And also that even some unpresentable examples of boxing can have sublime flashes. Do you know one thing? The opening quote, the one about the stars and the clouds, is not really from Baudelaire. Excuse me. It is by Mike Tyson, perhaps the only poet authorized to sit to the right of the great Ali in the court of posterity. Tyson, the youngest heavyweight champion. The man capable of speaking from heaven and knocking out like lightning… And going to jail for rape or biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear.

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I am the real Rocky Balboa


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