32 Champion Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Rocky!

For a 1980’s kid the Rocky films were a part of their childhood. It is the rags to riches story of the working class, Italian/American, boxer, Rocky Balboa from Philadelphia, USA. Yes, there have been some more recent films in the Rocky series, Rocky Balboa in 2006 and Creed in 2015. But for an 80’s kid it was all about the five films, Rocky (1976), Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985) and Rocky V (1990).


Those films rocked our world’s! With the inspiring training scenes, which boys loved to imitate! To talking in the playground about which film was best? Usually Rocky IV was the conclusion! Though girls did like the Rocky films, boys loved it more and for many 1980’s boys Sylvester Stallone became a huge role model in their lives, somebody to look up to.

What a great role model too, Stallone came from absolutely nothing, and risked everything to succeed and he did, big time!Okay, you may know the scripts, the story, the characters, the fights. But check out these 32 champion facts I bet you probably didn’t know about the Rocky films, I to V. And if you scroll all the way down, have a loot at what some of the cast look like today.


1. Susan Sarandon Was Considered Too Sexy For The Movie

The role of Adrian, played to perfection by Talia Shire, almost went to Susan Sarandon, but Sylvester Stallone considered her too sexy for the role. Bette Midler was offered the part, but turned it down. Cher was considered too. If we were Talia Shire and found out Sarandon was too sexy for the role, we’d considered this as a bit of a backhanded compliment.


2. The Studio Wanted Different Actors For The Part Of Rocky Balboa

The studio wanted James Caan, Burt Reynolds or Ryan O’Neal for the role of Rocky. But screenwriter, Sylvester Stallone would only sell the script if he was the lead role. I guess when you write your own film and studios are clamouring to buy it, you have a little bit of sway when trying to bargaining certain things. Although casting yourself as the main part is a bit of a bargain.


3. The Film Catapulted Some Actors Into Immediate Stardom

Carl Weathers, the actor who played Apollo Creed, said his days of being an unknown actor were over immediately, and he was recognised from the day after Rocky was released. Imagine going from someone who is virtually unknown to a big star within the space of a day. Taking a trip to the local supermarket would become that little bit harder.


4. One From The 2006 Film…

Okay, just one fact from 2006’s Rocky Balboa! Adrian’s grave really does exists! It’s near the front entrance of Laurel Hill Cemetery, 3822, Ridge Avenue, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia.

The original grave prop was made out of foam, which Sylvester Stallone disliked. So a granite head stone was made for between $1 – 3 thousand.


5. Sylvester Stallone Had To Work Hard To Look The part

Sylvester Stallone put on 10 lbs of muscle for Rocky IV.

6. Jackie Stallone Predicted Her Son’s Success 

Stallone’s Mother, Jackie Stallone, who does astrology, correctly predicted that her son would make it big as a screenwriter. Jackie famously appeared in Celebrity Big Brother season 3 alongside her ex daughter-in-law, Brigitte Nielsen.


7. Mr T Was No Stranger To Boxing

Mr T who played Clubber Lang, was no stranger to the boxing world. He was once the bodyguard for Muhammad Ali.

8. Sylvester Stallone Had Several Jobs Before Becoming A Successful Screenwriter/Actor

Before his Rocky fame and success, Stallone had been making ends meat by cleaning lions cages at Central Park Zoo. He had also done work as an usher, for $35 per week.


9. There’s A Very Good Reason You Don’t See The Audience In The Fight Scenes

Ever wondered why the fight scenes are so dark in the audience at the arenas? Well it’s because, due to a tight budget, there was not enough money for extras to fill the seats. I’m sure if you just asked some people in the street if they wanted to come in and be part of one of the greatest films in history, they would have jumped at the chance.


10. The Fight Scene Landed Stallone In Hospital 

Ivan Drago, the Russian boxer, was played superbly by Dolph Lundgren. In the fight scene, the decision was made to use real punches for a more realistic look. Lundgren punched Stallone so hard in his chest, his heart smashed into his ribcage.

Sylvester Stallone spent eight days in intensive care with blood pressure above two hundred, and difficulty breathing.


11. Rocky Was Actually Supposed To Die

Rocky was suppose to die at the end of Rocky V. Sylvester Stallone cried when he wrote his iconic character’s dying scene. But he needn’t of cried, because as it turned out, director John G. Avildsen, who also directed the first Rocky (Stallone directed II, III and IV) was told by studio executives that like Batman, Superman and James Bond, Rocky must not die.


12. Those Russian Mountains Aren’t Actually In Russia

How cool were the training scenes in the Russian snowy mountains? Just awesome right? But it turns out it wasn’t shot in Russia at all. The mountain scenes were actually shot at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The fight scene between Balboa and Drago in the USSR was filmed at the PNE Agrodrome in British Columbia.


13. Hulk Hogen Was Fired From The WWF For Accepting A Part In Rocky III.

For Rocky III, Hulk Hogen accepted the film role without asking the permission of the WWF owner, Vince McMahon. Vince was furious and fired Hulk Hogen from WWF (for awhile anyway.) I mean, we guess contractually he was supposed to ask permission to star in the film, but we think that this is a little unfair.


14. It Didn’t Take Long For Sylvester Stallone To Write The Script

Sylvester Stallone wrote the first draft of Rocky in three and a half days.

At the time he had just $106 in the bank.

15. The Steps At The Philadelphia Art Museum Have Been Renamed Because Of The Success Of The Film 

The Philadelphia Art Museum steps are known as the Rocky steps.


16. Sylvester Stallone Quit Smoking For The Film

Sylvester Stallone quit smoking during the filming of Rocky, as he kept getting out of breath. We wonder if he managed to keep off them afterwards though.

15. Stallone Was So Poor, He Went To Extreme Measures To Get Money 

Prior to Rocky, Stallone was so poor he had to sell his beloved dog Butkus, for $50.


18…But It Was Happy Ending

But don’t worry, after the success of the film Stallone brought Butkus back and the pair were happily reunited forever.

19. It Didn’t Take Very Long For The Film To be Shot

Rocky was shot in just twenty eight days. That’s just a month. If all Rocky film shoots were that short, they could have done all of them within a year.


20. Harvey Kietel Nearly Starred As Rocky’s Brother

It’s hard to imagine any actor other than Burt Young in the role of Rocky’s brother-in-law and loyal friend, Paulie. However, it very nearly wasn’t to be. This is because the first choice for the role was Harvey Kietel. We’re glad that it went to Burt, he absolutely made the role his own.


21. Some Actors Got Their Back Up About Being Asked To Read For A Part

Believe it or not, some actors were insulted to be asked by the then unknown Sylvester Stallone to read for the part of Mickey. They didn’t want to audition and would rather have just taken the role. This is not the case with Burgess Meredith who got the part and made it his own.


22. Not Much Of The Original Draft Actually Made It Into The Film 

According to Stallone, only ten per cent of the original draft was used in the first film.

23. Acting Wasn’t Dolph Lundgren’s Only Profession 

As well as starring in Rocky, Dolph Lundgren was a male model, and we can see why. He also has a degree in Chemical Engineering.


24. Ricky Broke The Mould For Sports Films At The Academy Awards

Rocky was the first sports film to win an Academy Award for best picture.

25. It Made Quite A Lot Of Money Back From Its Original Budget

Rocky was the highest grossing film of 1976. This is not too shabby for a film which cost $1.1 million to make (which in the film world is mere spare change!).

It grossed over $225 million wide world.


26. The Film Was Pretty Influential

Rocky is ranked at number four in America’s Film Institute 100 Most Influential Movies Of All Time.

27. The Film Had Some Pretty Famous Fans

It is said that Elvis Presley loved the Rocky film. Elvis even wrote to Stallone telling him so. He invited Sylvester to Graceland, but Stallone was too frightened to go. Instead, he sent Elvis a copy of the film.


28. It Seems Like Sylvester Stallone Is Good At Improvisation

The words Rocky speaks in the scene where he turns Mickey down on his offer to manage him, were completely improvised by Stallone.

29. The Budget Was So Tight That Actors Had To Share Cramped Dressing Rooms

Carl Weathers said the budget was so tight, himself and Burgess Meredith had to share a very tight, cramped dressing room.


30. Stallone Was Not The Only One To Suffer From The Fight Scenes

Both Carl Weathers and Sylvester Stallone suffered injuries during the final fight scene. Weathers had a damaged nose. Stallone had bruised ribs.

31. Sylvester Stallone’s Wife Was In The Film 

When Rocky is doing his training for his fight against Clubber Lang (Mr.T), the blonde groupie girl who asks for, and gets a kiss from Rocky, was Stallone’s first wife Sasha.


32. Stallone Was Inspired To Write The Film After Watching Chuck Wepner vs. Muhammad Ali

Sylvester Stallone was inspired to the write the film after watching Chuck Wepner’s last fifteen rounds in the ring with Muhammad Ali in March 24th 1975, at the Richfield Coilsuem. I mean, we can definitely see where the inspiration came from. It’s definitely not hard to make the link.


And Here Are What Some Of The Actors Are Up To Now

1. Sylvester Stallone

Mimicking the success of his Rocky character, Sylvester Stallone has gone on to live the American Dream. Six instalments of the franchise has spanned two decades of success for the actor. In June 2011, Stallone was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame for his work in the Rocky Balboa films. He was in good company, being inducted with Mike Tyson and Mexican champ Julio Cesar Chavez.


2. Talia Shire

Talia played Adrian, the quiet and reserved store clerk who stuck by Rock’ys side throughout his training. The actor is known for her good girl roles. Another big hit for the actress included her role as Connie Corleone Rizzi in ‘The Godfather’ films. More recently she’s appeared in ‘Homo Erectus,’ ‘I Heart Huckabees,’ and ‘The Deported.’


3. Burt Young 

Burt Young played Rocky’s friend and Rocky’s brother-in-law, Paulie. Young has been typecast a bit in these roles, playing Vito Graziosi in ‘Mickey Blue Eyes’ and Joe in ‘Once Upon a Time in America.’ Along with Stallone and Talia Shire, he is one of only three characters to appear in every single ‘Rocky’ movie. Burt’s latest role was as Leo Poplar in ‘Win Win.’


4. Carl Weathers

Before Carl Weathers was punching out his competition as Apollo Creed in the ‘Rock’ films, the actor started out as a professional football player with the Oakland Raiders. The character was based on real-life boxing giant Muhammad Ali. After Rocky his continued to act. He has recently played  Coach Trainor on ‘Brothers’ as well as popped up on ‘ER’ and ‘Psych.’ Hes also known for playing Chief Gampton Forbes on ‘In The Heat of the Night.’


5. Burgess Meredith

This actor has previously cropped up as The Penguin from the ‘Batman’ TV series and as George in ‘Of Mice and Men,’ Burgess is also well known as gym owner-turned-trainer, Mickey Goldmill. One of Rocky’s closest allies, Mickey stood by his side through the first three ‘Rocky’ movies. He reprised his rile for Rocky IV but his character passed away in the film. In 1994, Meredith authored his autobiography, ‘So Far, So Good’ and some of his last acting credits include two appearances as Grandpa Gustafson in ‘Grumpy’ and ‘Grumpier Old Men’. Sadly, the beloved actor passed away in 1997.


6. Tony Burton

Anthony Burton is an American actor best known for his role as Tony ‘Duke’ Evers in the Rocky series.  He had his own boxing career, which included the Flint Golden Gloves Light Heavyweight Championship in 1955 and 1957. He even won the State Golden Gloves Light Heavyweight Championship in 1957. He fought as a professional boxer for two years in the ’90s. His acting credits includes a role in the 1980s CBS comedy-drama ‘Frank’s Place,’ and films ‘Hook,’ ‘The Toy,’ ‘The Shining’ and ‘Assault on Precinct 13.’