Who does not know the fictional story of Rocky? A boxer who overnight becomes an aspiring world heavyweight boxing champion. Today we are going to tell the true story behind the character that made us vibrate so much on the big screen.
The character was created and first played by Sylvester Stalone in 1976, and over the years we have seen countless sequels with greater or lesser success. But the main character of the series, Rocky Balboahas a very real origin since it was inspired by a flesh and blood boxer.
chuck wepner He was an ordinary boxer who participated in 56 fights, of which he achieved 35 wins and 14 losses. He did not stand out in the ring except for being too prone to bleeding from the blows of his rivals, hence he received the nickname “The Bleeder of Bayonne, referring to his place of origin in New Jersey. So far everything normal to have been a perfect stranger in the ring world.
The boxer was a regular in minor fights, in which he more or less earned a living, but in 1975 everything was going to change. He received the news that he was going to face the world championwhich was none other than Muhammad Ali. The fight should be almost a training session for the new champion, since he was the first defense of the title after defeating Foreman in Kinshasa. But Ali underestimated Wepner, as Apollo Creed does in the film. He arrived with little preparation for the fight that was held on March 24, 1975, at the Richfield Coliseum, in Ohio.
The idea of Don King, the famous boxing promoter, was to pit Wepner against Foreman, as they thought the undefeated champion would retain the title in Kinshasa. However, Ali defeated Foreman in which she was dubbed the fight of the centuryand King decided to keep the fight against Wepner.
Stallone never denied that he was inspired by Wepner
In the fight, Wepner acted almost heroically, much in the style we later see in the Rocky movies, taking round after round against the world champion. He even allowed himself the luxury of knock down Ali in the ninth round, the surprise jumped! The champion recovered and, wounded in his pride, managed to knock out his rival in the last round (at that time the fight was 15 rounds, currently there are 12) and when there were only 19 seconds left to finish the fight. As you may have already noticed there are many similarities with the first Rocky movie, although unlike the cinema, there was no rematch here.
Only a year after the fight, Silvester Stallone premiered Rocky (John G. Avildsen, 1976), the first great film of the saga that was a success with the public and critics. And he did not have it easy to carry out the project. The script interested the producers a lot, but not the idea that it was Stallone himself who would star in it, as was his wish. In fact, he had to sell the rights to the character Along with the script, he ended up regretting something after the enormous success he obtained.
The amount received by Wepner has not been made public, but could be around $15 million
Many years later, in 2003, Chuck Wepner sued the actor for the rights of history. Wepner alleged that he had been promised financial compensation that he had not received. Let’s not forget that Stallone never denied that he was inspired by Wepner. Finally, in 2006 they managed to reach an economic agreement between both parties. Although the amount was not made public, it is rumored that it could be close to 15 million dollars. As the fighter pointed out, “I needed him to recognize that Rocky is me!”
rocky got 3 Oscars (film, director, montage) of the 10 to which he chose. Among the nominations were Stallone’s two, for lead actor and original screenplay. After this first film came (and continue to come) many more:
- Rocky (John G. Avildsen, 1976)
- Rocky III (Sylvester Stallone, 1979)
- Rocky III (Sylvester Stallone, 1982)
- Rocky IV (Sylvester Stallone, 1979)
- Rocky IV (Sylvester Stallone, 1985)
- Rocky V (John G. Avildsen, 1990)
- Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone, 2006)
- Believe. the legend of rocky (Ryan Coogler, 2015)
- Believe II. the legend of rocky (Steven Caple Jr., 2018)
- and next year Creed III (Michael B. Jordan, 2022)
The hit movie series has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide and will continue with new releases next year.
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The boxer and the fight that inspired the character of Rocky Balboa
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