Review of ESPNFILM’S 30 on 30: “The Real Rocky”

October 31, 2011 By: Category: Boxing, Entertainment, Sports, Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

chuck wepnerIn 1976, a film about a small time boxer from the streets of Philadelphia named Rocky Balboa who gets a shot at the World Heavyweight Title by the champion named Apollo Creed was released. The film starred and was written by a fairly unknown actor named Sylvester Stallone, and went on to become one of the largest grossing films, and won the 1976 Academy Award for Best Picture. The film I am talking about is, of course, “Rocky.” The film went on to have several sequels, and went on to become one of the most successful movie franchises.

This past Tuesday, ESPN FILM’s 30 on 30 series presented, “The Real Rocky,” by Jeff Feuerzeig. The film discusses the life and career of boxer Chuck Wepner. During Wepner’s career, he was nicknamed “The Bayonne Bleeder” because during a fight between himself and Sonny Liston, he got his nose broken and was bleeding profusely. Wepner is interviewed, and he was saying how he was hoping that in the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” match between then Heavyweight Champion George Foreman, and challenger Muhammad Ali, he was pulling for Foreman because he knew he would get a title shot.

Well, as most people know, Ali won that fight, and became the new Champion by knocking out Foreman. However, a couple of months later, Ali gave the Title shot to Chuck Wepner. Wepner then describes the build up for the fight.which included Ali telling him to call him (Ali) the “n” word right before both appeared on the Mike Douglas show. Wepner said he couldn’t do it, and would not do it as he had African American friends, and his sparring partners were also African American. Well, on the Douglas show, Ali claimed that Wepner called him an “n” word, and Wepner and Ali got into it. As for the fight itself, it was a very good bout. Ali won in the 15th round when Wepner could not go anymore, and the referee stopped the fight. Wepner said that he felt good about the fight as he felt that at least he was able to go 15 rounds with the champ

Now, what does this story of Wepner’s life and boxing career have to do with the movie, “Rocky?” Well, according to the documentary, Wepner’s lawers who took depositions from Stallone were talking about how Stallone got all defensive when certain aspects of Wepner’s life were used in the film. Stallone tried to say that the film was based on Rocky Marciano, but in interviews, he mentions Wepner over and over. According to the docutmentary, it was quite evident that Stallone used the Ali vs Wepner fight as inspiration for the movie. In fact, when Wepner attended a showing of “Rocky,” people gave him a standing ovation as a lot of them felt the film reflected many aspects of his life.

In the original “Rocky” film, there is that famous scene where Rocky runs up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum during training. According to Wepner, as part of his training, he would run up the main library steps. During the documentary, Wepner talks about meeting and fighting a worked match with the late WWE (then WWF) star Andre the Giant. Vince McMahon is interviewed briefly. Wepner said that near the end of the match, Andre would throw him over the top rope into the crowd.. In the 3rd sequel, “Rocky III,” there is a scene where Rocky fights wrestler Thunderlips played by current TNA wrestler, Hulk Hogan. Thunderlips throws Rocky over the tope into the crowd. Also in the original film, Rocky Balboa is a debt collector for a loan shark. Wepner also had worked in a similar line of work.

Wepner felt slighted by Stallone. He went to prison for cocaine charges, and Stallone was doing a movie at the prison he was in, and Stallone just asked how he was. Wepner felt that Stallone didn’t give him (Wepner) any credit even though Wepner felt it was obvious that his life was the basis for the “Rocky” movies. He felt he should have gotten something. It was the filming of the movie “Cop Land,” that really frustrated him, and he then decided to sue. On the DVDs for the “Rocky” movies, Stallone mentions Wepner, so it is rather strange that during his depositions, he got agitated when asked by Wepner’s lawyers about whether the Ali fight was the inspiration for the film. Vince McMahon says that he advised Stallone to settle, which is exactly what happened.

I thought the film was very well done. It was a very interesting documentary. Sad to see that Wepner is still working as a liquor salesman. It was also disappointing to see that Stallone didn’t give Wepner any credit. I mean, from watching the documentary, it was just too obvious to me that the Ali/Wepner fight was the inspiration for the film, and that Chuck Wepner was the inspiration for Rocky. There was way too many similarities between events in Wepner’s life, and the “Rocky” movies. I definitely recommend the documentary.

Follow Chuck Wepner on You Tube on The Chuck Wepner channel.

Terri Bey currently blogs for about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for Terri can be found here at Facebook- and at Twitter-

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Tyson Documentary is a Knockout

April 11, 2009 By: Category: Boxing, Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

I just finished watching the new Mike Tyson documentary “Tyson.” The documentary received limited release earlier this year in movie theaters. I have been hearing a lot about this movie for months. As someone who probably watched every Mike Tyson fight growing up, I was excited to hear about this movie. Needless to say, the movie came out like the Tyson of old and continued with a barrage of knockouts.

As stated above, I remember watching all of Tyson’s fight as a kid. It seemed at the time, that between ESPN and HBO, Tyson was fighting every three months. I got the same feeling watching Mike Tyson enter a ring that I felt whenever I watched Hulk Hogan as a kid. Unlike the Hulkster, none of his fights ever disappointed. I had no idea that Tyson the man would be even more interesting to watch than his fights when I’d get older.

What I remember most about Tyson as a fighter other than his short bouts, was the fear and intimidation. Nobody in either boxing or mixed martial-arts has come close to intimidating his opponents the way Tyson did. It really hit me when he fought Michael Spinks. I expected a hell of a fight considering Spinks was a dominant champion. I’ll never forget the look on Spinks’ face during pre-fight instructions. Here was another world champion looking like he was going to crap in his pants in front of the world. The fight was over before it began.

One thing I forgot about Tyson was his speed. Everyone is well aware of his punching power. Nobody takes anything away from him in that department. Yet, his immortal speed is often overlooked as arguably his best strength as a fighter. As a heavyweight, his speed was just absolutely insane. At his peak, Tyson fought like a flyweight. I don’t think there will ever be another heavyweight that can match the speed of Iron Mike.

I will also never forget the night that Mike lost the title in Tokyo, Japan. I was with friends at a party and the fight was an afterthought. Tyson’s fights were so one-sided that by the time I got older it was just as fun to watch them on replay as it was to watch live. I remember someone casually mentioning (could have been me) that Tyson was fighting. We turned it on and were shocked seeing the knockout. We all went nuts like we all had money on Douglas. It was a moment in sports that could only be appreciated by those that grew up watching Mike fight in his prime.

Tyson’s fall from grace following the fight is well documented. I have probably watched and read more on Mike than any other fighter, yet I learn something new every time. This was probably the best of the bunch of documentaries. What I enjoyed more than anything was hearing Mike recount exactly what was going through his head during the fights. Hearing Mike tell his side of the story, you can almost empathize with him for the famous ear-biting fight with Holyfield. Hearing Mike recount what was going through his head was probably one of the best moments of the film.

I don’t know if the film will change anyone’s mind on Mike. I’ll admit that I am a little biased since I grew up watching Mike and maybe cut him a little more slack on things. I have to say the biggest outrage will probably come from his comments about the rape conviction. “I may have taken advantage of women before, but I didn’t this time.” It is going to be hard to evoke any kind of sympathy for Mike after hearing a statement from him like that one.

As I watched the movie I wondered “what if?” What if Mike hadn’t gone to jail? Would he have rebounded, beaten Holyfield, and went back to dominating the sport? He definitely had the skills to do so. However, his mind seemed so out of whack at the time that I don’t know if he would have been in the right place to do what he needed to do to get back to form. I will say this, that whether you like him or not you cannot dispute the fact that he is one if not the greatest heavyweight of all-time. This is an argument you can debate, but is worthy of debate nonetheless.

Whether you like Mike Tyson, hate him, or never watched him box, I would highly recommend the movie. The movie moves fast and covers his entire life. Watching back, you remember just how great of a fighter he was. For me, that is the way I’d like to remember Mike Tyson. For the world, Mike Tyson the man is just too unforgiveable to forgive.

Order Ringside – The Best of Mike Tyson on DVD by clicking here.

Order ESPN Inside Access: Tyson by clicking here.