Chuck Wepner Is a Timely Inspiration

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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Sylvester Stallone is one of the greatest action actors of all time, and the Rocky series is one of his best-known works. There are as many as eight instalments in the series, all related to boxing, and they are hugely popular – the first seven instalments have grossed over $1.3 billion worldwide.

Worldwide Popularity

The way Stallone portrays the character, Rocky Balboa, in the movies is exceptional. The American actor goes into the heart of what it is like to be a boxer and fight for a living. The movies are about striving for excellence in the face of great adversity. There are failures along the way, but there are also valuable life lessons.

Over the years, Rocky has become synonymous with boxing. The franchise has gained massive popularity worldwide, and there are a number of video games based on the storylines. The 2007 Rocky Balboa video game has footage from the movies, while in Rocky (2002), the player controls the boxer’s journey from a club fighter to the championship match against Apollo Creed. Among the many online slot games based on the movie is Fabulous Bingo’s Rocky. The five-reel, 25-payline game features clips from the film and has five Rocky Wild symbols. The music comes straight from the films and there’s a Knockout mini-game which is activated by landing a white boxing glove.

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Inspired by Chuck Wepner

What many may not know is that the Rocky franchise was inspired by the life of the heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner. Stallone wrote the script of the movie himself after watching Wepner’s fight against the late great Muhammad Ali in 1975. The rags-to-riches story of Rocky was loosely based on the life of Wepner. The 78-year-old is a largely unknown boxer in terms of worldwide popularity in the 21st century, but he will get his fair share of fame in the recently released 2017 movie entitled Chuck.

Chuck is based on Wepner’s fight against Ali in 1975. Liev Schreiber, who has starred in Hollywood hits such as Kate & Leopold, The Omen and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, plays the leading role. English actress Naomi Watts, whose major works include King Kong, The Ring and Flirting, and The West Wing star Elisabeth Moss also feature in the film. The movie promises to be a good watch as it will give a real insight into the life of Wepner and his unsung heroism. The film had its world premiere at the 2016 Venice Film Festival back in September 2016 and has received some positive reviews.

Hard life

Chuck Wepner learned to fight on the streets of his hometown of Bayonne, New Jersey, before joining the US Marines. He was part of the Marines’ boxing team and showed his athletic prowess. Following his discharge, Wepner fought in local amateur boxing league. It was tough for him at the time, as he had to work as a security guard and nightclub bouncer to make ends meet.

Wepner’s big break came when he won the heavyweight championship at the New York Golden Gloves tournament. It was the first time that anyone from New Jersey had claimed the title, and it shot the American into the limelight. Wepner turned professional in 1964 and soon earned the nickname ‘The Bayonne Bleeder’ for his ability to withstand punches.

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Success in the All American Championship and the National Golden Gloves Championship saw him shoot to number eight among the world’s heavyweight boxers. He was fighting against the likes of George Foreman and Sonny Liston, and took on the legendary Ali in a bout in 1975. Wepner was 35 when he took on Ali, and he was supremely confident about his chances of winning the fight. The bout is one of the best-known and is a classic. Wepner eventually lost on a technical knockout, but not without giving his opponent a run for his money. He also suffered a broken nose.

Chuck is not just about the boxer’s legendary fight against Ali; it is about him being a human being who had to struggle and fight his way up to the top. The film also shows the boxer struggling in his personal life, with drug sales and spending time in prison. Chuck is an inspirational movie that exposes that behind all that glitz and glamour of boxing, there is real hard work and genuine pain.

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