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Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa
|First appearance||Rocky (1976)|
|Created by||Sylvester Stallone|
|Portrayed by||Sylvester Stallone|
|Nickname(s)||The Italian Stallion
The Pride of Philadelphia
|Occupation||Professional boxer (retired)
|Spouse(s)||Adrianna "Adrian" Balboa (née Pennino) (1976-2002; her death)|
|Children||Robert "Rocky" Balboa Jr. (son)|
|Rated at||216 lb (93 kg)|
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
July 6, 1945 |
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Robert "Rocky" Balboa, Sr. is the title character of the Rocky series. The character was created by Sylvester Stallone, who also portrayed him in all seven Rocky films. He is depicted as an everyman who started out by going the distance and overcoming obstacles that had occurred in his life and career as a professional boxer. While he is loosely based on Chuck Wepner, a one-time boxer who fought Muhammad Ali and lost on a TKO in the 15th round, the inspiration for the name, iconography, and fighting style came from boxing legend Rocky Marciano.
The character is widely considered to be Stallone's most iconic role and is often considered the role that started his film career. He received critical acclaim for his performance in the first movie, earning Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations. When Stallone reprised his role once again in 2015 for Creed, his performance received wide acclaim and he received his first Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, along with his third Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor and several other accolades.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Personal life
- 3 Character origin
- 4 Boxing style
- 5 Honors
- 6 Merchandising
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Robert "Rocky" Balboa was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 6, 1945 (one year before Sylvester Stallone's actual birth date). He was the only child in a Roman Catholic Italian-American family. The surname Balboa/Valboa (roughly meaning "beautiful valley") originates from a Galician-speaking town in Northwestern Spain, so it is likely he had some Iberian ancestry as well. When Rocky is spoken to by his priest, Father Carmine, it is apparent that he understands Italian very well, including a scene in which he translates for Tommy Gunn; however, it is undetermined how well he actually speaks the language as his responses are always in English.
During the scene in which Rocky takes Adrianna "Adrian" Pennino skating on Thanksgiving, he tells her, "Yeah – My ol' man, who was never the sharpest, told me – I weren't born with much brain, so I better use my body." This encouraged him to take up boxing. He trained very hard so he could grow up to be like his idol Rocky Marciano. Unable to live on the small pay of club fights, and being unable to find work anywhere else, Rocky got a job as a collector for Tony Gazzo, the local loan shark, just to make ends meet. By late 1975, Rocky had fought in 64 fights, winning 44 (38 KO'S) and losing 20. Rocky was proud that he never had his nose broken in a professional fight. His nickname is "The Italian Stallion", spawning from his Italian-American heritage.
The film begins on November 25, 1975, in the slums of the Kensington section of Philadelphia. Rocky Balboa is fighting Spider Rico in a local boxing ring called the Cambria Fight Club (nicknamed "The Bucket of Blood") inside a chapel. In the second round, Rico hits Balboa with a headbutt, leaving a gash on his forehead. Enraged, Rocky delivers a vicious barrage of punches, knocking Rico out. The next day, Rocky stops by the local pet store and tries to talk to the shy pet-shop worker Adrian Pennino, younger sister of his friend Paulie. Adrian is very shy and scared of Rocky's tough appearance. Afterwards, Rocky goes to collect a loan for his boss Tony Gazzo. Even though the client didn't have all the money, Rocky didn't break his thumb, even though Gazzo ordered him to do so. Later, Rocky stops by the local boxing gym and finds that he lost his locker to a contender. Unknown to him, the gym's owner and grizzled former boxer, Mickey Goldmill, doesn't hate him, but instead always considered Rocky's potential to be better than his effort. When Rocky leaves for home that night, he sees a young girl named Marie, hanging around a bad crowd and walks her home. On the way, Rocky lectures her about staying away from the wrong people. However, once they get to her house she tells Rocky "Screw you, creep'o." Rocky walks home, frustrated how nothing is going right in his life.
Balboa gets his big break when the undisputed World Heavyweight Champion Apollo Creed decides that he wants to give an unknown fighter a chance to fight for the title after his intended challenger Mac Lee Green broke his hand while training. Creed was told no other contender was available for a fight on New Years Day, which is only a month away in commemoration for the United States Bicentennial, it was inferred by Creed, with the accompanying worldwide audience. Creed chooses Rocky because he likes Balboa's nickname, 'The Italian Stallion'.
After getting picked by Apollo, Balboa reunites with his estranged trainer, Mickey Goldmill, who convinces Balboa that he can help get him prepared for this fight. Mickey reveals that his career never got anywhere either because he didn't have a manager and he didn't want the same thing to happen to Rocky. At the same time, Balboa begins dating Adrian. Rocky helped Adrian to become more self-confident and stand up for herself. Rocky confides in Adrian before the fight that though he figured he wouldn't win, he wanted to at least "go the distance."
On January 1, 1976 at the Philadelphia Spectrum, Balboa fights Creed, who didn't take the fight seriously during training. In the first round, Rocky knocks Creed down, the first time he had ever been knocked down in his career and Creed breaks Rocky's nose, also for the first time in his career. Creed soon realizes that although Balboa doesn't have his skill, he could deliver crippling, sledge-hammer like punches and was stubbornly determined to keep fighting. The fight becomes a long and grueling battle for both men. Rocky was almost knocked out in the 14th round, but managed to get up and deliver some hard body shots, breaking Creed's ribs just before the bell. The 15th round finally began and Rocky managed to pummel Creed until the bell rang. Although Creed wins the fight by a split decision, it was the first time an opponent has lasted the full 15 rounds against him. Both men, battered beyond belief, agree that there would be no rematch. Rocky was fine with this as he only wanted to go the distance with Creed. After the match, Adrian climbed into the ring and embraced Rocky saying, "I love you!"
After the match, Creed changed his mind and wanted a re-match under the stress of being humiliated by the press for failing to beat Balboa convincingly, as well as his own knowledge that he didn't give his best in the fight. Creed demanded a rematch with Balboa, stating that he would fight him 'anywhere, any place, anytime' to prove to the world that Balboa's feat was merely a fluke. Rocky initially refuses and marries Adrian who convinces him to live outside boxing. However, Rocky, a grade-school drop-out, soon realized he had no skills beyond fighting, and in fact could barely read. The money he made in the first fight was soon frittered away so Adrian took up her part-time job in the pet store. Despite her objections, after Apollo insulted Rocky on national television and the newspaper, he agreed to the rematch. Without Adrian's support, however, Rocky was greatly discouraged and could not draw any concentration into his training whatsoever leaving Mick frustrated and worried. The now pregnant Adrian went into premature labor due to over stress and slipped into a coma after giving birth to Robert. When Adrian came out of the coma, she promised her full support to Rocky. Together, Mickey and Rocky trained hard, focusing on Rocky's speed and improving his right-handed punching (Rocky being a southpaw). At the same time, the angry Apollo also focused on his training, taking this match much more seriously than the first fight. The re-match was set for Thanksgiving. The grueling battle was another 15-round war with both Balboa and Creed falling to the canvas after Balboa landed a succession of left hands. Referee Lou Fillipo exercised his 10-count to the limit and as both Creed and Balboa struggled to make it to their feet, Creed crumbled back down in exhaustion. Rocky was able to get up, from sheer determination and beat the 10-count, winning the rematch by knockout, thus becoming heavyweight champion of the world.
Over the next three years, Rocky successfully defended his title in 10 consecutive defenses against various contenders, amassing fortune and worldwide fame in the process. In addition, Rocky also fought an exhibition bout against the World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion "Thunderlips" (Hulk Hogan) to a draw. However, in 1981, Rocky was challenged by intense and hungry newcomer James "Clubber" Lang (Mr. T) who has risen to the top of the rankings. Rocky had some issues with his trainer Mickey Goldmill due to his revelation of having faced "hand-picked" challengers that were "good fighters, but not 'killers'" which Lang was. Mickey insisted that he would quit as Balboa's manager if he chose to fight Lang, but Rocky convinced him to train him for one last match. However, just like Apollo in the first film, Rocky didn't put his heart into the training, reinforcing Mickey's belief that Rocky had become too comfortable (or "civilized") as champion. Lang shoved Mickey out of the way during a violent exchange of words with Balboa moment before the match, sending the elderly trainer into cardiac arrest, which threw Rocky, outmatched and undertrained, completely off his game. As a result, Rocky was brutalized by Lang and knocked out in the second round, losing his title; and adding to his defeat, Mick dies of a heart attack after the match, devastating Rocky. Despairing and lost, Rocky was met by Apollo Creed, who told Balboa that when they fought, he won because he was hungry. He had the 'fire' Apollo no longer had, and the former champion convinced Rocky that he needed to get his fire ("the eye of the tiger") back. Along with his old trainer Tony "Duke" Evers, Apollo offered to train Rocky for a rematch against Lang, taking Balboa to L.A where he first trained to get Rocky "back to basics." After a while Rocky managed to purge his doubts and get his fire back. Fighting with a style very reminiscent of Creed's own boxing technique mixed with his own style, Rocky won the second match with Lang by KO, dodging and absorbing Lang's best blows and still standing, regaining his world heavyweight title. After the fight, Rocky and Apollo were last seen alone in Mickey's Gym, Creed taking his "payment" for his training services: one last rematch, just the two of them, no spectators. Forty years later, Rocky admits that Apollo won.
In 1985, Apollo Creed comes out of retirement and agrees to fight Soviet World Amateur Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist-turned-professional fighter Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) in Las Vegas with Rocky Balboa and Tony "Duke" Evers in his corner. Creed, past his prime but in the best shape of his retirement, again not taking his opponent seriously, was brutally beaten by massive Drago in the first round but begged Rocky not to stop the fight. In the second round, Creed continued to be beaten by Drago, falling limp in the ring and succumbing to his injuries. Feeling responsible for Apollo's death, Balboa sets up a match with Drago, which was held on Christmas Day in Moscow. Rocky had to surrender his World Heavyweight Championship title to accept this bout. With Evers assuming the role as his new trainer, Balboa trained hard using old-school methods within the mountainous terrain of Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, while Drago was shown being trained with state-of-the-art equipment and steroid enhancement.
During the fight, Drago dominated the early moments of the match, but in the second round, Balboa caught Drago with a haymaker to the eye and cut him. The fight continued in a bloody back-and-forth battle, with the Soviet crowd who had originally rooted for Drago began cheering for Balboa while Drago's handler became increasingly upset over his inability to finish the smaller American. In the end, Rocky's superior stamina and determination to win persevered and he defeated the colossal Russian in the fifteenth round. After the fight, Rocky gave an impassioned thank you speech to the crowd which received a standing ovation both from the crowd and the politicians in attendance, effectively ending the Cold War by catalyzing the thaw in relations that would occur between the United States and the Soviet Union.
After the bout with Drago, Rocky realizes while he is showering that he has sustained some type of injury from the fight. His hands tremble relentlessly and he tells Adrian he is tired and just wants to go home, but accidentally addresses her as Mickey. Upon return to the United States (in a Soviet airplane), his press conference is interrupted by seedy promoter George Washington Duke and Union Cane. They challenge him to a title fight called "Lettin' it Go in Tokyo." Rocky hints at retirement and leaves without accepting the challenge. Balboa’s doctor, Presley Jensen, discovers that Rocky has apparently suffered brain damage, caused by extremely heavy blows to the head, and so he decides to retire. He then loses his fortune after his brother-in-law Paulie mistakenly had Rocky sign away power of attorney to their accountant, who subsequently embezzled Rocky's money in a housing deal gone bad.
His only remaining asset is the now closed Mickey's Gym, which had been willed by Mickey to Robert, Rocky's son. Rocky and the family are forced to return to the old neighborhood, moving back into Adrian and Paulie's old house in South Philadelphia. He reopens Mickey's Gym as a means of income while Adrian returns to work at the pet store, where she was employed when she first met Rocky. Rocky asks Adrian, "Did we ever leave this place?" Though retired from boxing, Balboa starts training an up-and-coming fighter, Tommy Gunn. Tommy slowly becomes an excellent fighter, but suffers some from being constantly put in Rocky's shadow; he is nicknamed "Rocky's Robot" by the media. Tommy is wooed by Duke and leaves Rocky after an argument about whether Balboa is holding him back. At the same time, Robert also has problems adjusting to the new, less-than-lavish lifestyle his family is now leading, and by his father's emotional distance. After a while, Rocky realizes the damage he is doing to his relationship with his son, and he makes amends.
Despite his bitter parting with Tommy, Rocky is still anxious as he watches his fight against Union Cane on television along with Paulie. As the fight starts out slow, Rocky begins to emote through the first couple of seconds of the fight as Cane was effective in hurting Tommy. As Tommy begins to make his adjustments as Rocky taught him, Rocky then mirrors his punches on a punching bag, which disturbs his family. Tommy wins the World Heavyweight title from Union Cane by knockout. Visibly proud of Tommy, Rocky is surprised that Tommy credited his success to Duke instead. However, Tommy is ridiculed in the press—since he had never fought a "real contender," he is not regarded as a real champion or heir to the belt. This motivates Tommy, with prodding from Duke, to publicly challenge Rocky to a fight.
Balboa initially declines, but when the hot-tempered Tommy punches Paulie, Rocky accepts, telling Tommy his ring is in the alley right outside. As both fighters head to the alley, Duke tries to persuade Tommy to not fight a street fighter but Tommy squares up on him saying that he does not own him and wants his respect. Rocky then starts to beat Tommy quickly without giving him a chance, knocking him down. Rocky tells Tommy that even though he loved him, he ruined their relationship. With Rocky's back turned, Tommy sucker punches him and also fights some of the bystanders. Tommy gains the upper hand and tackles Rocky through a steel door into the street. The two engage in a street brawl which quickly gets the attention of the media, which catches Robert and Adrian's attention. As the neighborhood gather around the fight, Tommy's punches begin to slow down Rocky in his tracks due to his condition and is knocked down, disoriented with Paulie at his side. Tommy is then restrained back from finishing Rocky off. Glimpses of Ivan Drago, his loss to Clubber Lang, and Mickey's burial start to cloud his mind until he hears Mickey's voice telling him that he's the champion and to get up. As Tommy walks away, convinced he finally got what he wanted, Rocky rises up and calls him out for one more round, to which Tommy happily obliges. An adamant Duke reminds Tommy that if he loses this, he will terminate their partnership. In a turn of events, Rocky uses his brawling abilities to punish and humiliate Tommy. With his back toward a gate, Rocky dodges several hooks from Tommy and manages to push him towards the gate, shove him with brute force and a powerful left hook to knock Tommy down again. Duke, who threatened to sue Rocky if he touched him, becomes infuriated at Tommy, which he gets up and tackles Balboa to the ground and later lifting him up. Just as Robert joins the crowd, Rocky breaks free from Tommy's grip, performs a reversal that sent Tommy into a pile of trash cans. Both men now exchange punches with Rocky being the aggressor, making Tommy miss his shots. Rocky is then caught by a series of punches by Tommy, just as Adrian joins the crowd, but then manages to parry Tommy and begins to walk him down with his devastating shots. Seeing the opportunity, Rocky goes to Tommy's body then lands perfect headshots and finishing with a right uppercut that sends Tommy to the grill of a bus, defeating his protege. As Adrian and Robert tend to him, Rocky tells Adrian that she was right. The neighborhood's cheer was silenced by Duke as he tries to sarcastically commend Rocky. He confront's Duke, who still continues to threaten him with a lawsuit. Clenching his fist, he uppercuts Duke to the gut which lifts him off the ground, sending him to the hood of his own limousine, telling him "Sue me for what?" Rocky, Adrian, Robert and Paulie walk away in good spirits as the neighborhood continue to cheer him on.
Sometime later, Rocky and his son run up the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Rocky gives him a valuable possession of Mickey Goldmill's that had been passed on to him by Rocky Marciano. The two make up for the tensions of the past few years and head in to the museum together.
Rocky Balboa (setting 2006)
In 2006, 16 years after the events of Rocky V, Rocky runs a restaurant called 'Adrian's', named after his wife who, on January 11, 2002, died of ovarian cancer. Rocky is no longer broke and doing better than he was in years prior. After her funeral, Rocky visits her graveside every day and each year on the anniversary of her death, he takes a tour of the old places where their relationship began and blossomed: the pet shop, now closed, where Adrian worked, the site of the former ice skating rink where they had their first date, and Rocky's old apartment where they fell in love. Rocky's son who, unlike his father, goes by Robert and struggles as a mid-level corporate employee, grows farther apart from his family over the years, and only reluctantly joins Rocky to commemorate the anniversaries of his mother's death.
One day, ESPN’s program Then And Now features a computer animation about a simulated fight between Rocky (in his prime), and the current champion, Mason "The Line" Dixon. The fight simulated Rocky winning by knockout in the 13th round, which stirred up a great deal of discussion about the result if such a fight ever occurred. Inspired by the simulation and feeling he still has some issues to deal with ("stuff in the basement"), Rocky (who is now 60 years old) decides to return to the ring, and applies for a boxing license. Though Rocky passes the required physical with flying colors, the Licensing Committee denies his license citing his advanced age and their moral duty to protect him from himself. Rocky responds to this with an impassioned speech of his own, however, and they change their minds and give him his license.
The brain damage suffered in Rocky V is not addressed in this film, but in interviews, Stallone has said that the storyline explanation would have been that Rocky's brain damage was within the normal range for boxers. When tested for brain damage in Rocky V, Rocky was suffering the effects of a severe concussion as a result of the Drago fight, but he never sought a second or more informed opinion because he intended to retire anyway.
Rocky's intentions were originally just to compete in small, local fights for fun and charity, but with the publicity of Rocky's return right on the heels of the embarrassing computer simulation, Mason Dixon's promoters convince Rocky to face the champ in an exhibition bout in Las Vegas. Originally also against fighting an aged Balboa, Dixon recognizes the opportunity to fight a legend, and hopes to end all prognosticating about who would win as well as contentions that he has never had a truly great opponent or memorable match. In the press, commentators dismiss Rocky's chances and the merits of the fight, assuming that it will be one-sided due to Rocky's age despite their original excitement with Rocky's return to the ring and their doubts regarding Dixon's ability.
As news of the bout spreads, Robert begins to feel more pressure from being Rocky's son and makes an effort to discourage Rocky from fighting, blaming his own personal failings on his father's celebrity shadow, but Rocky rebukes him with some profound advice: to succeed in life, "it ain't about how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward," and that blaming others won't help him. The day after this argument, father and son meet over Adrian's grave and reconcile, which is when Robert announces that he has quit his job to be at Rocky's ringside. Rocky also reunites with his old trainer, Duke, and both men quickly realize that age and arthritis have sapped Rocky of any speed he once possessed. They decide to focus on his one major remaining weapon: power.
When the fight finally begins, it appears to go as lopsided as everyone predicted with Dixon's speed allowing him to punish Rocky at will, knocking him down twice early on. However, the champion soon realizes Rocky will not go down and that the old man "has bricks in his gloves". The tide turns when Dixon injures his hand while punching Rocky. This evens the playing field and allows Rocky to mount an offense, knocking Dixon down for the first time in his career. During the subsequent rounds, Dixon's injury would later numb up which would enable him to throw much harder punches, which poses as a threat to Rocky. In the final round, it starts out slow for the two fighters. After a brief exchange of punches, Dixon catches Rocky with a strong blow, knocking down Rocky for the third time. As Rocky takes the knee, he looks to Robert in the corner and has flashbacks of his time with Adrian, remembering what she said to him about never giving up. As he slowly gets up, the crowd, along with Marie, starts to chant his name and he rises to Dixon's surprise. As the final thirty seconds unfold, Dixon manages to catch Rocky with quick punches, however an emotional Rocky would retaliate with devastating punches of his own and the two would exchange punches, but Rocky would get the final blow before the bell rang. In the end, the two fighters go the distance and show their appreciation for each other. Before the winner was announced, Rocky and his entourage make their way out of the ring in celebration. As Dixon was announced the winner by split decision (Dixon wins in the theatrical release, Balboa wins in an alternate ending ), Rocky thanks each and every one of his group, and with Robert and Paulie by his side, they turn Rocky around and raise his arms as the audience gives him a heartfelt standing ovation. Dixon is finally recognized as being a warrior for fighting through every round and Rocky proves to the world that he is no joke, mirroring the ending of the first Rocky.
After the fight Rocky visits Adrian's grave and puts flowers on top telling her, "Yo, Adrian, we did it", which is a play on the second Rocky movie's line, "Yo, Adrian, I did it!". Rocky is last seen walking away from the grave and waving goodbye one last time.
Since Rocky's last fight, Paulie has died in 2012. In addition, his statue has been re-installed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the bottom of the steps. Three years later, Rocky is visited at Adrian's by Adonis "Donnie" Johnson Creed (Michael B. Jordan) - Apollo's illegitimate son, who grew up without him following his loss and death against Drago. Donnie asks Rocky to consider training him, but is reluctant to come back to the sport of boxing after his severe brain trauma, training another boxer and one-off comeback. Days after his initial offer, Donnie stops by the restaurant to ask Rocky for exercises to help his prowess, and recommends him to his friend, Pete Sporino (Ritchie Coster), who currently runs Mighty Mick's Gym. After deep thought, Rocky finally agrees to takes Donnie as his student.
Wanting to train in the old-school style, Donnie moves in with Rocky, staying in Paulie's room. While Donnie notices an old picture of Rocky and his son, Robert (an actual picture of Sylvester Stallone and a young Sage Stallone), Rocky reveals that Robert had moved to Vancouver with his girlfriend because of the difficulties he faced trying to be independent in Philadelphia, but does check on his father now and then. Pete, who initially wanted Rocky to be a part of his son, Leo's (Gabriel Rosado) team, challenges Adonis to a fight his son, in which Rocky shows reluctance again, but then both agree. Instead of training at Mighty Mick's Gym, Rocky takes Adonis to train at Front Street Gym, where he surprises Donnie with a corner team and apparel. Before the fight, Pete pulls Rocky aside to address the rumors of Donnie being Apollo's son, which Rocky confirms and tells him that he should not speak of it to anyone else. After Donnie's win, the media heavily publicized the story of Apollo's infidelity, which catches the eye of Tommy Holiday (Graham McTavish), who is looking for the final person to fight his trainee, light-heavyweight champion "Pretty" Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew). While training, Rocky suddenly grows weak, vomits, and collapses in the gym. After doing a string of test ordered by the doctors at the emergency room, Rocky is diagnosed with an early case of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, making him confront his own mortality; the deadliest fight he's ever been in. At first, Rocky was hesitant to the option of chemotherapy as he remembers the pain Adrian experienced as she underwent treatment for ovarian cancer.
After a bitter argument with the former heavyweight champion, Donnie, greatly impacted by his coach's diagnosis, makes a pact with Rocky that they would fight their battles together, as Donnie prepares for his bout with Conlan and as Rocky undergoes treatment. As Donnie moves on in training, the effects of treatment begin to weaken Rocky, and because of this, Donnie acts as a caregiver to Rocky while helping him get up and go to the restroom and uses the medical facility to his advantage; shadowboxing in the corridors and running up the stairs, passing doctors and nurses. With the fight taking place in Liverpool, a calm Rocky teaches Donnie the hysterics that would ensue during the pre-fright press conference when Conlan tries to play mind games, and later helps in Donnie's girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson) surprising Donnie in his hotel room. During the fight, Balboa stands in Donnie's corner along with Bianca. Before the final round, Rocky grows concerned about the injuries that Donnie has sustained and tells him he's stopping the fight. However, Donnie wants to prove that he is "not a mistake", which emotionally impacts Rocky. He then, tells Donnie that he wishes he had the chance to thank Apollo when Mickey died but it doesn't match his appreciation of Donnie's tenacity that motivated him in his battle against his illness and tells him that he loves him.
The film concludes with Donnie taking a frail, but improving, Rocky back to the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in which he says is his "most favorite place." Both look toward the Philadelphia skyline, remaining positive about their futures.
Balboa resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and married Adriana "Adrian" Pennino in 1976. They were married for 23 years. The two have a son, Robert "Rocky" Balboa, Jr., who unlike his father goes by Robert.
After Adrian's death in 2002, Rocky and his brother-in-law Paulie live together for a short time, then Paulie moves in with an unnamed girlfriend. Now living completely alone again, Rocky cannot come to terms with present-day living and constantly thinks about the past. With the help of Paulie and reunited long-time acquaintance Marie, Rocky begins to move on with his life and in the process restores his relationship with his only child, his son Robert. Rocky's relationship with Marie is established as platonic in the film, but a hint of a romantic interest is revealed with a kiss on the lips the night before the last fight of his life.
The name, iconography, and fighting style of Rocky Balboa were inspired by the legendary heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano from Brockton, Massachusetts and from the 5 times world champion Roberto 'Manos de Piedra (Hands of Stone)' Duran, from Panama, where the Balboa is the official currency. Balboa was also inspired by other fighting legends: Joe Frazier, for his Philadelphia origin, training methods and victory against Muhammad Ali (the inspiration for Apollo Creed), and Jake LaMotta, for his Italian-inner city roots, ability to absorb many blows and his rivalry with Sugar Ray Robinson, which heavily resembled Rocky and Apollo's. However, it was the not-so-legendary Chuck Wepner who inspired the movie and Balboa's underdog personality.
|“||Early in my acting career I realized the only way I would ever prove myself was to create my own role in my own script. 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. I relished stories of heroism, great love, dignity, and courage, dramas of people rising above their stations, taking life by the throat and not letting go until they succeeded. But I had so many ideas in my head, I couldn't focus on any one. To cheer myself up, I took the last of my entertainment money and went to see the Ali-Wepner fight on closed circuit TV. Chuck Wepner, a battling, bruising club fighter who had never made the big time, was having his shot. It wasn't at all regarded as a serious battle. But as the fight progressed, this miracle unfolded. He hung in there. People went absolutely crazy. Wepner was knocked out in the 15th and final round, almost lasting the distance. We had witnessed an incredible triumph of the human spirit and we loved it.
That night, Rocky Balboa was born. People looked on him as the all-American tragedy, a man without much mentality and few social graces. But he has deep emotion and spirituality and good patriotism. And he has a good nature, although nature has not been particularly good to him. I have always seen him as a 20th Century gladiator in a pair of sneakers. Like so many of us, he is out of sync with the times. To all this, I injected doses of my own personal life, of my frustration at not getting anywhere.
|— Sylvester Stallone|
Rocky Balboa fights as a southpaw (left-handed). In the second film, against Apollo Creed, he comes out "orthodox" and Mickey intends for him to switch back to southpaw late in the last round, but Balboa refuses saying "no tricks, I ain't switching". Mickey tells him that Apollo is ready for him (if he continues using his right) and so towards the end of the round, he does indeed lead with his left. The real reason for this is Sylvester Stallone tore his pectoral muscles in training, but the idea was probably taken from the great left-handed boxer "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler who would sometimes come out orthodox to confuse opponents.
Rocky was an all or nothing brawler coming into his first bout with Creed, however under the training of Micky he began to develop his boxing skills ahead of the rematch, which were mastered during his reign as world champion, he became a world class hybrid fighter, possessing the qualities of an inside fighter, brawler, and swarmer. With the exception of his rematch against Clubber Lang (where he fights as an outside fighter), he often advances quickly upon his opponents, driving them into the ropes in order to attack the body. Balboa's best attribute is without question his near-superhuman ability to absorb a multitude of the hardest hits without falling — an attribute he often employs on purpose to wear down his opponents, sacrificing defensive strategy to land his own punches. This is due to a rare brain abnormality in which Rocky's cerebral hemispheres stay tightly relative to each other due to an extremely strong corpus callosum, preventing him from losing consciousness due to latitudinal impacts. Because of this rare talent, Balboa can afford to keep his hands in position to strike rather than up high to block. Because he takes more punches than he throws, it is easy to overlook his incredible punching power. Rocky also has an uncanny ability to sense weakness in his opponents, often capitalizing on every shift in momentum possible. He is acknowledged as having the most devastating body attack in the sport, with his body blows causing internal bleeding in Creed and breaking Drago's ribs. After going two rounds with Balboa, Ivan Drago told his trainer (in Russian), "He's not human, he's like a piece of iron." Mason Dixon once remarked about Balboa: "that guy's got bricks in his gloves." These qualities, in concert, helped land him a high percentage of KO victories over the course of his career.
Rocky Balboa was named the 7th greatest movie hero by the American Film Institute on their 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains list. Additionally, he was ranked #34 on Empire Magazine's compilation of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters. Premiere magazine ranked Rocky Balboa #64 on their list of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
The Rocky character is immortalised by a bronze statue erected near the Rocky Steps in Philadelphia recalling the famous scene from the original Rocky movie.
In 2011, Sylvester Stallone was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame for his work on the Rocky Balboa character, having "entertained and inspired boxing fans from around the world". Additionally, Stallone was awarded the Boxing Writers Association of America award for “Lifetime Cinematic Achievement in Boxing.”
A poll of former heavyweight champions and boxing writers ranked Balboa as the best boxer in the film series.
Hasbro intended to license Rocky and make him a member of the G.I. Joe toyline, as they had with wrestler Sgt. Slaughter. A toy prototype was produced. Marvel Comics' G.I. Joe: Order of Battle profile book came out during the negotiations and included Rocky as a current Joe member, specializing in hand-to-hand combat training and an example of what it means to persevere under seemingly impossible odds. As the negotiations then collapsed, due to Stallone licensing Rambo to another company, Marvel had to run a retraction in the third issue of the limited-run series indicating that the character was never a part of G.I. Joe.
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|World Heavyweight Champion
November 25, 1976 – August 15, 1981
James "Clubber" Lang
James "Clubber" Lang
|World Heavyweight Champion
1982 – 1985
Title next held byUnion Cane