Clubber Lang

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James "Clubber" Lang
Rocky character
First appearanceRocky III (1982)
Last appearanceRocky III (1982)
Portrayed byMr. T
NicknameThe Southside Slugger
OccupationProfessional boxer
Clubber Lang
Height5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
BornChicago, Illinois
Boxing record
Total fights57
Wins by KO56

James "Clubber" Lang is a fictional character created by Sylvester Stallone for the film Rocky III, which was released in 1982.[1] Lang serves as the main antagonist of the film and was portrayed by Mr. T.[2]

Lang is a professional boxer fighting out of Chicago, Illinois and a one-time world heavyweight champion, having taken the title from Rocky Balboa only to lose it back to Balboa in his next fight. The character is very loosely based on a combination of Sonny Liston, Larry Holmes and George Foreman.[3][4]

Fictional character biography[edit]

James Lang was orphaned at an early age, and spent most of his childhood on the streets of Chicago's Southside, as well as time in orphanages and juvenile facilities.[5] Later as an adult, Clubber was sent to prison for five years for felony aggravated assault. But during his time serving time he discovered boxing as a way to let out his frustration and anger , which leads to the events of Rocky III. This is also evident in the game Rocky Legends, where Clubber's storyline begins with him fighting in the Chicago Prison in a ring actually inside the prison itself. One novelization of the film called Lang's manager "Donut."[citation needed]


During Rocky III's intro, Rocky is shown easily defeating numerous contenders in a montage, during which Clubber is shown annoyed at Rocky apparently coasting through his title defenses. A frustrated Clubber decides to begin training to challenge Rocky and largely does so alone, and his methods bring results as he puts together a string of knockouts that makes him the number one contender. He finally goads Rocky, who has become a complacent, dapper gentleman wanting to retire so he can spend more time with his family, into a match, infuriating Rocky by propositioning his wife Adrian at a public event in Philadelphia (just after Rocky announced his intention of retiring).

On the night of the fight, Clubber taunts the champion in the hallway as they are walking to the ring and starts a fracas between the two camps, shoving Rocky's manager and trainer Mickey Goldmill so hard that he suffers a heart attack which later proves fatal (Mickey had shown signs of heart weakness earlier in the movie, and refused to go to a hospital until Rocky came back from the fight). He also angers the former champion Apollo Creed by refusing to shake his hand before the fight and challenging Creed to hit him. Obviously irritated, Creed tells Balboa, "Do us all a favor and drop this chump." With Rocky, who did not take his training seriously leading into the fight, now distracted by his trainer's condition, Clubber knocks him out in two rounds to hand him his first defeat since Creed defeated him in 1976.

Clubber's first defense of his newly-won title comes against Rocky, who has joined forces with Creed. Balboa learns a newer style based on speed and finesse from Creed in training for the fight. The champion, expecting the same Rocky he fought the first time, has trouble with his new style and exhausts himself throwing a barrage of early power punches. Although several are damaging, Balboa taunts Lang, needling him that his punches were "nothing." With Clubber breathing heavily after the second round of the fight, Rocky exploits his opponent's lack of conditioning and takes control of the fight by knocking out Clubber in the third round.[6]

Lang's career results following the second fight with Balboa are unknown; outside of a replay of the final round in the beginning of Rocky IV, he was not seen in any of the four films that followed. In one version of the script of Rocky Balboa, Clubber was one of the commentators of the Rocky vs. Mason fight.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Chris Jordan. Movies and the Reagan Presidency: Success and Ethics. p. 94.
  2. ^ Isabel Soto; Violet Showers Johnson. Western Fictions, Black Realities: Meanings of Blackness and Modernities. p. 285.
  3. ^ Jan Philipp Reemtsma. More than a champion: the style of Muhammad Ali (Random House, 1998) ISBN 9780375400308.
  4. ^ Randy Roberts; James S. Olson. Winning is the Only Thing: Sports in America Since 1945. p. 180.
  5. ^ Edward Gross. Rocky: The Ultimate Guide (Dk Pub, 2007) ISBN 978-0-7566-2622-8
  6. ^ Peter Bondanella (2005). Hollywood Italians: Dagos, Palookas, Romeos, Wise Guys, and Sopranos. p. 119.
Preceded by
Rocky Balboa
World Heavyweight Champion
August 15, 1981 – July 6, 1982
Succeeded by
Rocky Balboa