||This article may contain original research. (August 2010)|
||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (August 2010)|
Portrait of Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago
|First appearance||Rocky IV|
|Portrayed by||Dolph Lundgren|
|Nickname(s)||The Siberian Express
The Siberian Bull
Death from Above
Soviet Army infantry Captain
|Height||6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)|
|Born||Siberia, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union|
|Wins by KO||100|
|Competitor for the Soviet Union|
|Gold||1980 Moscow (Presumed)||Super Heavyweight|
Ivan Drago (Russian: Иван Драго) is a fictional character that appeared as Rocky Balboa's rival in the 1985 film Rocky IV. He is portrayed by Dolph Lundgren. The character and his catchphrases have gone on to inspire multiple mentions in popular culture like Clubber Lang (Rocky III), including in the Family Guy episodes "Brian Goes Back to College" and "Something, Something, Something, Dark Side", the Chuck episodes "Chuck Versus the Final Exam" and "Chuck Versus the Anniversary", film Disaster Movie, as well as the name of Michigan heavy metal band, If He Dies He Dies.
Fictional character biography 
Ivan Drago is an Olympic gold medalist and an amateur boxing champion from the Soviet Union, who had an amateur record of 100-0-0 Wins (100 KO). He is billed at 6 ft 8 in (203 cm) and 261 pounds (118 kg, over 18 ½ stone). He wields a punch with which is over 2200 psi, whereas the average psi for a boxer is 700psi. He is also an infantry Captain in the Soviet Army and as seen on his chest, is a recipient of the Hero of the Soviet Union award. Drago is carefully fitted[clarification needed] and trained to be the consummate fighter. His heart rate and punching power are constantly measured via computers during his workouts. Drago is seen receiving injections in the movie, presumably anabolic steroids, though this is never explicitly stated.
Drago is married to another athlete, Ludmilla Drago (Brigitte Nielsen) who is mentioned to be a gold medalist in swimming. She is much more articulate than Drago, who seldom talks, and always speaks on his behalf at press conferences and interviews. Her status as an elite athlete is questionable given that she is seen smoking during the fight with Apollo Creed. She dismisses accusations of steroid use, explaining her husband's freakish size and strength by saying, "he is like your Popeye. He eats his spinach everyday!"
Unlike the flamboyant Apollo Creed and the brash Clubber Lang—Rocky's opponents in previous movies—Ivan is quiet and non boastful. Driven by his desire to be the best at all costs, this single-minded manner in which he pursues this goal deprives him of his humanity. Many viewers and critics have suggested that Drago was meant to symbolize America's perception of Russia: immense, powerful, and emotionless. This is made evident by his cold-blooded pulverization of Creed in an exhibition match as well as by his callous reaction towards news of his opponent's death. Drago generally allows his wife and trainers to talk on his behalf to the press. The character only speaks short sentences, throughout the film, all terse, short statements.
He speaks English four times in the film:
- [To Apollo], "You will lose."
- [during victory speech], "I cannot be defeated" "I defeat all man." (cut) "Soon... I defeat real Champion." (cut) "If he dies, he dies."
- [To Rocky], "I must break you."
- [To Rocky], "To the end."
- [To his trainer in Russian], "Он не человек, он как кусок железа." ("He's not human, he's like a piece of iron.")
- [To his informant and the Soviet politburo], "Я бьюсь ради победы!" "Для себя!" "Для себя!" ("I fight to win!" "For me!" "For me!")
In Rocky IV, Drago's trainers, Sergei Igor Rimsky (George Rogan) and Manuel Vega (James "Cannonball" Green), along with his wife Ludmilla (Brigitte Nielsen), are convinced that he can defeat any boxer. Drago enters professional heavyweight boxing in the beginning of the movie, as stated by the press. Former champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), now 42 years old, comes out of retirement to challenge Drago to an exhibition match, promoted by Creed's former rival Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). Creed arrives to the ring wearing his signature Stars & Stripes boxing garb to "Living in America," sung by James Brown, upon a huge stage that is lowered into the ring. Before the match begins, Drago ominously mutters "You will lose."
During the fight, Apollo is no match for the Russian fighter. In Apollo's corner, Rocky contemplates whether to throw in the towel and surrender the fight (against Creed's earlier instructions), but instead he decides to hold onto the towel. Defenseless, Apollo continues to absorb blows to the head until Drago finally kills him with a final blow to the head. Drago exhibits no remorse about what happened to the former champion, simply stating in an interview after the fight that "if he dies, he dies."
To avenge Apollo's death, Rocky travels to the Soviet Union to fight Drago on his home turf in Moscow. The fight eventually becomes a long, drawn-out war between Rocky and Drago, and to everyone's shock, Rocky manages to severely damage Drago, and the crowd begins to cheer for Rocky, whereas at the start of the fight, they were booing him. Drago's promoter — a Soviet/German official — insults him, claiming that by allowing an American to fight so admirably on Russian soil, Drago is disgracing the Soviet Union. The enraged Drago grabs him by the throat, throws him out of the ring and proclaims he only fights for himself. Rocky wins by KO in the 15th and final round in a dramatic ending.
In Rocky V, it's revealed that the pain Drago inflicted on Rocky left him with brain damage, causing him to mistake people, see visions and various other things.
According to Rocky: The Ultimate Guide, Ivan Drago wasn't permitted to resume his boxing career after his loss to Rocky Balboa because of the special circumstance that he could not officially turn pro in the USSR. Ivan Drago turned professional after the fall of the Soviet Union and accumulated a record of 31-1 (31 KO) while also winning a portion of the Heavyweight title. He never unified the title or fought the very top contenders (as a pro) because of promotional politics. His only defeat as a pro or an amateur fighter was at the hands of Rocky Balboa.
- If He Dies He Dies-Friction Records, retrieved 15 Jan 2009.
- Michael J. Strada and Harold R. Troper. Friend or foe?: Russians in American film and foreign policy, 1933-1991 (Scarecrow Press, 1997) ISBN 0-8108-3245-3
- Edward W. L. Smith Not just pumping iron: on the psychology of lifting weights (C.C. Thomas, 1989) ISBN 0-398-05544-8
James "Clubber" Lang
|Rocky Balboa's main opponent||Succeeded by