News to me: Rocky was based on a true story

I was recently reminded of the Rocky movies when I was assigned some translation work related to the new sequel that’s coming out. Don’t ask me what it was, but I’ll tell you one thing: if I never hear the exchange at the end of the trailer again (Boxer: “What it that, from the 80s?” Rocky: “More like the 70s”), it’ll be too soon.

The Rocky movies have been great for their cheesy charm (sweet music), Rocky’s dogged determination and slurred speech (caused by Stallone’s own real-life speech impediment), and finding just the right mix of sports movie cliches to make them work. They inspire me (to the extent that I ever get inspired) in basically the same way as the awesome training scenes in Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. That’s why it was especially heartwarming to hear from Ask Yahoo! that there really was a Rocky:

Sylvester Stallone’s signature character was inspired by a real-life boxer named Chuck Wepner.

Wepner, who calls himself “The Real Rocky,” had been a professional pugilist for many years when he challenged Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight title in 1975. An ex-Marine, Wepner was asked before the fight if he thought he had a chance against the Greatest of All Time. Wepner allegedly answered, “I’ve been a survivor my whole life…if I survived the Marines, I can survive Ali.”

In fact, Wepner did more than just survive. In the ninth round, he actually introduced Ali to the canvas. Wepner eventually lost, but he was the only fighter to ever knock down Ali while Ali was the champ.

Stallone watched the fight and soon went on to write “Rocky,” the story of a down-and-out boxer who gets his shot at the heavyweight title and goes the distance against a boisterous and beloved champion.

I’m sure, had I been old enough and cared about boxing, I’d probably be aware of that major event in Ali’s career. Still, it’s news to me. I don’t suppose the real Rocky went on to fight drug-addled supercommunists, though, did he?

So, that’s my message to the Democrats today: go the distance and see try not to lose by decision!