Rocky: A Legacy as Proselytizer of Boxing

Custodian of Boxing’s Grip on the Mainstream

The saga of Sylvester Stallone‘s diamond in the rough comeback king Rocky Balboa has attained the lofty cultural status of timeless symbol of a sport, an ethos & a struggle to overcome in circumstances varied & testing. Rocky or what retroactively became known as Rocky I was created on a budget of under $1 million and took (only) an incredible 28 days to shoot. The first film in what would become an eventual six took in over $225 million – making it the highest grossing motion picture of 1976 & took Best Picture honors at the Academy Awards (along with Best Director & Best Film Editing).

Balboa took his first name from undefeated heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano. Stallone’s legendary fighter was though more so molded as a hybrid of heavyweight & pound-for-pound greatness more generally – hailing from Joe Frazier‘s hometown; his initial sporting nemesis (one Apollo Creed) a character modeled on Mohammed Ali. The Balboa-Creed rivalry has also been likened to that between Jake LaMotta & Sugar Ray Robinson. Chuck Wepner, though, served as the initial inspiration for the script that Stallone banged out in a frantic & hugely fateful three days.

Reflecting on the Rocky franchise & its genesis, Stallone has said, “On my 29th birthday, I had $106 in the bank. My best birthday present was a sudden revelation that I had to write the kind of screenplay that I personally enjoyed seeing.

  • 800 school kids were used as extras for the scene where Rocky runs through Philadelphia in Rocky II.
  • The Ring Magazine heavyweight championship belt first appears in the second film.
The timeless wisdom of Rocky:

Paulie: [talking about Adrian] You like her?
Rocky: Sure, I like her.
Paulie: What’s the attraction?
Rocky: I dunno… she fills gaps.
Paulie: What’s ‘gaps’?
Rocky: I dunno, she’s got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps.
Paulie: Are you ballin’ her?
Rocky: Hey!
[punches Paulie in the shoulder]
Rocky: You don’t talk dirty about your sister!

Rocky: [Rocky is trying to make out with Adrian on their first date] Will you do me a favor? Take off these glasses.
[Rocky takes off Adrian’s frumpy glasses, revealing her beautiful eyes]
Rocky: Now take off this hat.
[Takes off her unattractive hat, revealing her dark, lovely hair. Adrian is beautiful and Rocky is appreciative]
Rocky: I always knew you was pretty…
Adrian: [Adrian looks at him, disbelieving] Stop teasing me.

Apollo’s Trainer: He doesn’t know it’s a damn show! He thinks it’s a damn fight!

Rocky: [upon seeing Apollo Creed] He looks like a big flag.

Paulie: I want you outta here instamatically.

Adrian: Einstein flunked out of school, twice.
Paulie: Is that so?
Adrian: Yeah. Beethoven was deaf. Helen Keller was blind. I think Rocky’s got a good chance.

Rocky: What about my prime, Mick? At least you had a prime! I had no prime, I had nothin’!

Rocky Balboa

Tale of the Tape

Height 5’11

Reach 74 inches

191 pounds (vs. Creed I)

202 pounds (vs. Creed II)

201 pounds (vs. Lang I)

191 pounds (vs. Lang II)

204 pounds (vs. Drago)

217 pounds (vs. Dixon)

Commercial & critical reaction to each film in the Rocky saga

Released Box office revenue
United States Foreign Worldwide
Rocky November 21, 1976 $117,235,147 $107,764,853 $225,000,000
Rocky II June 15, 1979 $85,182,160 $115,000,000 $200,182,160
Rocky III May 28, 1982 $125,049,125 Unknown $125,049,125+
Rocky IV November 27, 1985 $127,873,716 $172,500,000 $300,373,716
Rocky V November 16, 1990 $40,946,358 $79,000,000 $119,946,358
Rocky Balboa December 20, 2006 $70,269,899 $85,450,189 $155,720,088
$566,556,405 $559,715,042 $1,126,271,447
Film Year Rating
Rocky 1976 91%
Rocky II 1979 71%
Rocky III 1982 60%
Rocky IV 1985 44%
Rocky V 1990 27%
Rocky Balboa 2006 76%
Rotten Tomatoes

Rocky II was one of the first sequels to match the financial success of the original film. It was the second highest grossing film of 1979. The movie took in $85,182,160 at the U.S. box office and $200,182,160 globally. Indeed Rocky II was also the highest grossing movie sequel ever until The Empire Strikes Back hit cinemas in 1980.

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Matt Hamilton

Matt Hamilton on Boxing