Charles 'Chuck' Wepner and former World Light Heavyweight Champion Mike Rossman ringside at The Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, October 12, 2012
|Real name||Charles Wepner|
|Nickname(s)||The Bayonne Brawler a.k.a. The Bayonne Bleeder|
|Height||1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)|
February 26, 1939 |
New York City, New York, United States
|Wins by KO||17|
Charles "Chuck" Wepner (born February 26, 1939) is a former heavyweight boxer from Bayonne, New Jersey. As a tough journeyman boxer he went 15 rounds with world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in a 1975 fight. Wepner claimed that he was the inspiration for the movie Rocky. Wepner also appeared in the book Operation Bullpen about the $100 million fake autograph scam. The last chapters of Operation Bullpen focus on the John Olson-Chuck Wepner counterfeit scheme in which Olson forged Muhammad Ali autographs on a variety of Ali merchandise, including photographs of Ali and Wepner. Wepner sold forgeries in partnership with Olson, and in 2002 the FBI arrested them both. Each received probation for their crimes.
Wepner, nicknamed "The Bayonne Bleeder," debuted as a professional boxer in 1964 and began posting many wins and some losses. He had formerly boxed while a member of the United States Marine Corps, and had worked as a bouncer before turning pro. He was the New Jersey State Heavyweight Boxing Champion and popular fighter in the Northeast's Club Boxing circuit. But after losing fights to George Foreman (by knockout in three) and Sonny Liston (by knockout in ten) many boxing fans thought that his days as a contender were numbered. After the fight with Liston, Wepner needed 72 stitches in his face. He also lost a fight to Jose King Roman by a decision in Puerto Rico.
However, after losing to Joe Bugner by a knockout in three in England, Wepner won nine of his next eleven fights, including victories over Charlie Polite and former WBA Heavyweight champion Ernie Terrell.
Muhammad Ali fight
In 1975, it was announced Wepner would challenge Muhammad Ali for the world's Heavyweight title. According to a Time magazine article, "In Stitches", Ali was guaranteed $1.5 million and Wepner signed for $100,000. This was considerably more than Wepner had ever earned and he therefore did not need any coaxing. Wepner spent eight weeks near the Catskill Mountains under the guidance of Al Braverman (manager) and Bill Prezant (trainer and noted cutman). Prezant prophesied that the fight would be a big surprise. This bout was the first time Wepner had been able to train full-time. The fight was held on March 24 at the Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio south of Cleveland. Before the fight, a reporter asked Wepner if he thought he could survive in the ring with the champion, to which Wepner allegedly answered, "I've been a survivor my whole life...if I survived the Marines, I can survive Ali."
In the ninth round Wepner knocked down Ali, though Ali later contended that Wepner had stepped on his foot, a claim confirmed by photos.  Wepner went to his corner and said to his manager, "Al, start the car. We're going to the bank. We are millionaires." To which Wepner's manager replied, "You better turn around. He's getting up and he looks pissed off."
In the remaining rounds, Ali decisively outboxed Wepner and opened up cuts above both Wepner's eyes and broke his nose. Wepner was far behind on the scorecards when Ali knocked him down with 19 seconds left in the 15th round. The referee counted to nine before calling a technical knockout.
Wepner's last fight was on May 2, 1978 for the New Jersey State Heavyweight Championship against a new rising prospect, Scott Frank, noted for a useful heavy left hook. Wepner lost the fight in a 12 round decision, but again proved durable, Ring magazine noted. He announced his retirement after the fight.
Wepner works today with his second wife Linda in the liquor store management field for Majestic Wines and Spirits in Carlstadt, New Jersey, and is an expert in consumer liquors, wines and spirits.
A film about Wepner's career was released in 2012. and ESPN aired a documentary titled 'The Real Rocky' on October 25, 2011. The ESPN film features a clip of Wepner's ninth round knockdown of Muhammad Ali in their 1975 world heavyweight title bout.
Wepner occasionally makes ringside appearances at boxing cards in his home state of New Jersey, signing autographs and posing for photos with boxing fans. On October 12, 2012, Wepner appeared ringside with former World Light Heavyweight champion Mike Rossman in Atlantic City, New Jersey at a Tropicana Casino & Resort Atlantic City fight card featuring a WBA NABA Lightweight title bout in the main event. Wepner held the WBA NABA heavyweight title during his boxing career.
Sylvester Stallone watched Wepner's fight with Ali and shortly afterwards wrote the script for Rocky, but Stallone subsequently denied that Wepner provided any inspiration for the movie. Besides Wepner's story, there are other possible inspirations for the film as well, particularly Rocky Graziano's autobiography Somebody Up There Likes Me, and the movie of the same name. Wepner filed a lawsuit which was eventually settled with Stallone for an undisclosed amount.
It is speculated that the 1982 film Rocky III was influenced by his fight against Andre the Giant, as the movie features a match versus wrestler Hulk Hogan as "Thunderlips", who throws Rocky out of the ring.
Professional boxing record
|35 Wins (17 knockouts), 14 Losses, 2 Draws |
|Loss||35-14-2||Scott Frank||PTS||12||26/09/1978||Ice World, Totowa, New Jersey, United States||Referee: Jersey Joe Walcott. Lost USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.|
|Win||35-13-2||Tom Healy||KO||5 (?)||02/06/1978||Old Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||34-13-2||Johnny Blaine||KO||3 (?)||07/04/1978||Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States|
|Loss||33-13-2||Horst Geisler||TKO||10 (10)||20/05/1977||Broome County Arena, Binghamton, New York, United States||Wepner down in the 10th round.|
|Loss||33-12-2||Mike Schutte||PTS||10||19/02/1977||Wembley Stadium, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa|
|Loss||33-11-2||Duane Bobick||TKO||6 (10)||02/10/1976||Utica College Sports Complex, Utica, New York, United States||Bout was stopped on cuts.|
|Win||33-10-2||Tommy Sheehan||TKO||2 (10)||06/05/1976||Kearny, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||32-10-2||Johnny Dolan||KO||3 (10)||19/11/1975||Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States|
|Win||31-10-2||Johnny Evans||TKO||4 (10)||19/11/1975||Portland, Maine, United States|
|Loss||30-10-2||Muhammad Ali||TKO||15 (15)||24/03/1975||Richfield Coliseum, Richfield, Ohio, United States||For WBC & WBA Heavyweight titles. Ali down in the 9th round after Wepner knocked him down with a body shot, Wepner almost went the distance and was TKOed with 19 sec. left in the 15th and final round, This fight was the inspriation for Rocky.|
|Win||30-9-2||Terry Hinke||TKO||11 (12)||03/09/1974||Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States||Promoter Dick Sadler billed this for the American Heavyweight title. Wepner was penalized 4 points for assorted fouls. Hinke ruled down 3 times in 11th.|
|Win||29-9-2||Charley Polite||KO||4 (?)||23/05/1974||Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||28-9-2||Randy Neumann||TKO||6 (12)||08/03/1974||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States||Retained USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title. Neumann suffered a severe gash from a clash of heads.|
|Win||27-9-2||Billy Williams||PTS||10||17/01/1974||Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||26-9-2||Ernie Terrell||PTS||12||23/06/1973||Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States||Won vacant National Americas heavyweight title.|
|Win||25-9-2||Billy Marquart||PTS||12||15/03/1973||Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States||Retained USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.|
|Win||24-9-2||John Clohessy||PTS||10||07/12/1972||Bayonne, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||23-9-2||Randy Neumann||PTS||12||15/04/1972||Jersey City, New Jersey, United States||Won USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.|
|Loss||22-9-2||Randy Neumann||PTS||12||09/12/1971||Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States||Lost USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.|
|Win||22-8-2||Mike Boswell||TKO||10 (10)||14/10/1971||Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||21-8-2||Jesse Crown||KO||4 (?)||16/09/1971||Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States|
|Loss||20-8-2||Jerry Judge||TKO||5 (8)||06/01/1971||Catholic Youth Center, Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Loss||20-7-2||Joe Bugner||RTD||3 (10)||08/09/1970||Empire Pool, Wembley, London, England, United Kingdom||Cut eye stoppage.|
|Loss||20-6-2||Sonny Liston||RTD||9 (10)||29/06/1970||Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States||Wepner down by body blow in the 5th round. Fight stopped by ring doctor after round 9 because of multiple cuts on Wepner's face.|
|Win||20-5-2||Manuel Ramos||UD||10||26/01/1970||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States|
|Win||19-5-2||Pedro Agosto||PTS||10||19/12/1969||Felt Forum, New York, New York, United States|
|Loss||18-5-2||George Foreman||TKO||3 (10)||18/08/1969||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States||Wepner's eye opened up slightly in the 1st round, and was bad enough by the beginning of the 3rd to give Foreman a TKO.|
|Loss||18-4-2||Jose Roman||PTS||10||22/06/1969||Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||18-3-2||Mike Bruce||PTS||8||28/04/1969||Secaucus, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||17-3-2||Roberto Davila||MD||10||14/03/1969||Felt Forum, New York, New York, United States||Scoring: 5-4-1, 5-5, 6-4.|
|Win||16-3-2||Jerry Tomasetti||TKO||1 (10)||13/12/1968||Felt Forum, New York, New York, United States|
|Win||15-3-2||Mert Brownfield||PTS||10||09/11/1968||Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||14-3-2||Forest Ward||TKO||7 (8)||28/09/1968||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States||Ward was down three times in the 7th round, triggering an automatic stoppage.|
|Win||13-3-2||Mike Bruce||PTS||8||20/05/1968||Plaza Arena, Secaucus, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||12-3-2||Eddie Vick||SD||10||30/04/1968||Walpole, Massachusetts, United States|
|Win||11-3-2||Clay Thomas||TKO||3 (?)||22/01/1968||Secaucus, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||10-3-2||Charlie Harris||TKO||6 (?)||27/11/1967||Secaucus, New Jersey, United States|
|Loss||9-3-2||Jerry Tomasetti||TKO||5 (6)||19/07/1967||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States|
|Win||9-2-2||Don McAteer||TKO||5 (6)||28/04/1967||Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States||Won vacant USA New Jersey State heavyweight title. McAteer was a last minute sub.|
|Win||8-2-2||Dave Centi||PTS||6||21/10/1966||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States|
|Win||7-2-2||Johnny Deutsch||KO||6 (?)||03/08/1966||Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||6-2-2||Cleo Daniels||PTS||6||06/04/1966||Westchester County Center, White Plains, New York, United States|
|Win||5-2-2||Jerry Tomasetti||PTS||6||22/02/1966||Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States|
|Loss||4-2-2||Buster Mathis||TKO||3 (6)||17/01/1966||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States||Wepner was knocked down in the 1st.|
|Loss||4-1-2||Bob Stallings||PTS||6||19/10/1965||Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States|
|Draw||4-0-2||Everett Copeland||PTS||6||23/03/1965||Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States|
|Win||4-0-1||Ray Patterson||SD||6||19/01/1965||Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States||Patterson was knocked down in the 2nd.|
|Win||3-0-1||Jerry Tomasetti||PTS||4||18/12/1964||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States|
|Draw||2-0-1||Everett Copeland||PTS||6||27/10/1964||Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States|
|Win||2–0||Rudy Pavesi||PTS||4||14/08/1964||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States|
|Win||1–0||George Cooper||KO||3 (?)||05/08/1964||City Stadium, Bayonne, New Jersey, United States|
- "Chuck "The Real Rocky" Wepner's Home Page with Muhammad Ali". Wepner.homestead.com. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "Chuck Wepner : Boxer". Boxrec.com. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "Don’t Bleed For Me Bayonne". Thesweetscience.com. 2004-11-06. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "In Stitches". Time Magazine. 1975-04-07. Retrieved 2007-05-24.
- http://boxrec.com/media/index.php/File:Wepner_on_Ali_foot.jpg. Retrieved 2013-12-11. Missing or empty
- "Real-Life "Rocky" Boxer Chuck Wepner Talks w/ Jim Clash". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- [dead link]
- "Andre The Giant | Chuck Wepner (ex) 1/1". YouTube. 2009-04-21. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "Andre the Giant vs. Chuck Wepner". YouTube. 2006-08-26. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "Scott Frank". Njboxinghof.org. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "Interview with Chuck Wepner: Blood, Sweat & Tears! - Boxing News". Doghouseboxing.com. 2011-03-10. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "35 years after facing Muhammad Ali, 'Bayonne Bleeder' Chuck Wepner still pulls no punches | Professional | NewJerseyNewsroom.com - Your State. Your News". NewJerseyNewsroom.com. 2010-03-23. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- New Jersey. "Politi: Chuck Wepner, the real 'Rocky,' to have his story told by Hollywood, ESPN documentary". NJ.com. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "After 36 years, real-life Rocky's story coming soon". CNN. September 23, 2011.
- "ESPN Films - Chuck Wepner Knocks Down Muhammed Ali". YouTube. 1974-10-30. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "Chuck Wepner finally recognized for 'Rocky' fame - ESPN". Espn.go.com. 2011-10-25. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- Feuerzeig, Jeff (Director) (2011-10-25). The Real Rocky (Motion picture). ESPN Films.
- "Thunderlips.wmv". YouTube. 2010-07-02. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "Synopsis for Rocky III (1982)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "Chuck Wepner : Boxer". Boxrec.com. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Chuck Wepner|
- Chuck Wepner's website
- Professional boxing record for Chuck Wepner from BoxRec
- Interview with Chuck Wepner
- Chuck Wepner at the Internet Movie Database