Saturday, 10 March 2012 07:30

Rocky Balboa

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Fictitious character 

Robert "Rocky" Balboa, Sr. is an Italian-American retired legendary boxer, famous for his indomitable spirit, his extreme tenacity, ferocious body attack, and above all, for fighting with his heart.

Creed vs Balboa I
Rocky got his big break when heavyweight champion Apollo Creed decided to give some local Philadelphia talent a chance to fight for his title after his scheduled opponent, Mack Lee Green, suffered a hand injury and was unable to fight. Apollo selected Rocky mainly because of his nickname, "The Italian Stallion." Rocky initially refused, saying that a fight between the heavyweight champion and a simple club fighter like himself would not be a very good match-up, but Jergens, the fight's promoter, convinced him that an opportunity like this was one in a million, and he shouldn't pass it by. Rocky then accepted.

On New Year's Day 1976, Rocky Balboa faced Apollo Creed in the Philadelphia Spectrum for the heavyweight title. Rocky pulled off a miracle by becoming the only fighter to go the distance with the champion. However, Apollo was awarded the split-decision victory.

Balboa vs Creed II
After that first fight, Rocky intended to retire from boxing and settle into a normal life with his wife Adrian. Apollo, however, was bitter over the fight's subsequent fallout. He may have won by decision, but he felt he didn't take the fight as seriously as he should have, and that Rocky just got lucky. He was heavily criticized in the media and by boxing fans, being accused of having the fight fixed and being called a "disgrace to the sport."

Apollo felt that the only way to redeem himself was by challenging Rocky to a rematch. The big rematch, dubbed Superfight II, was again held at the Spectrum on Thanksgiving Day 1976. The fight was a particularly brutal one, with both fighters falling to the ground exhausted toward the end of the final round. Racing against the referee's ten-count and each other, Rocky and Apollo wearily climbed the ropes to be the first on his feet. Rocky was the first to get up, and was declared the new heavyweight champion of the world.

Balboa vs Lang I
After his 10th title defense, Rocky was challenged by a young newcomer named Clubber Lang, a Chicago-based fighter who quickly climbed the ranks to become the number one contender for Rocky's title. Rocky agreed, but Mickey wanted no part of it. He felt that Rocky had gone soft since winning his title and wouldn't stand a chance against a "wrecking machine" like Lang. Rocky, however, dismissed the challenger as just another fighter, and finally convinced Mickey to train him for one last fight.

On the night of August 15, 1981, Rocky and Lang met at the Spectrum for the title fight. During a pre-fight melee, Lang shoved Mickey to the ground, inadverdantly causing him to suffer a heart attack. Unable to concentrate on the fight, Rocky suffered a humiliating defeat when Lang knocked him out in the second round and was crowned the new heavyweight champion. In the locker room after the fight, Rocky had one last conversation with Mickey before he passed away. 

Balboa vs Lang II
Rocky was devastated by the loss of his mentor and friend. Alone in Mickey's Gym one night, Rocky received a surprise visit from the former champ Apollo Creed, who offered to help Rocky win the title back. After some apprehension, Rocky agreed to Apollo's proposal. Apollo then took Rocky to the Watts section of Los Angeles, where he trained him in the same way that Apollo himself was trained. With Apollo now in his corner, Rocky was prepared to take on Clubber Lang in the much-anticipated rematch held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Rocky was able to defeat Lang in the third round and regain his title. Rocky and Apollo remained good friends for several years. They even made a tradition of having friendly "rematches" at Mickey's Gym. 

Balboa vs Drago
In early 1985, a Soviet amateur boxer named Ivan Drago arrived in America. His trainer boasted to the press about Drago's incredible strength, and that they would like to set up an exhibition bout with Rocky. Apollo, however, caught wind of this and was immediately turned off by what he saw as arrogance on the part of the Russian trainers.

In a grand spectacle held at the MGM Grand Hotel, Apollo and Drago faced off in what was supposed to be a friendly charity exhibition match. Instead, Drago unleashed all his strength on the former champion, finally delivering a fatal blow in the second round. Devastated at having lost another close friend, Rocky decided that he had to face Drago himself.

Accompanied by Paulie and Tony "Duke" Evers, Apollo's former trainer, Rocky left for Russia. On Christmas Day 1985, the two fighters met in Moscow for the globally-broadcast event. Everybody in the audience and, by extent, the entire Soviet Union was cheering for Ivan Drago, but this did not budge Rocky in the least. It was a bloody battle, with Rocky receiving the full brunt of Drago's strength, but he managed to hold his own.

In the beginning of the fight, it seemed that Rocky's fight would go the same way as Apollo's did, with Drago brutally maiming or killing Rocky, but the tables began to turn soon when Rocky landed a haymaker and cut the Siberian Bull near the eye. Drago also began to gain a certain measure of respect for Balboa. Rocky's determination eventually began to win over the initially-hostile Russian crowd, and, in the last few seconds of the fight, Rocky knocked Drago to the canvas, defeating him.

In the locker room immediately after the fight, Rocky started feeling nauseous and his hands began shaking uncontrollably. He had never experienced such sensations after a fight before, and it worried him. All he wanted at that moment was to have Adrian by his side, and he sent Duke to get her. Adrian became frightened by what Rocky was telling her, and insisted that he needed to see a doctor right away. Rocky, however, just wanted to return home. 

That evening, Rocky overheard an argument between Adrian and Paulie. It turned out that during their stay in Russia, Paulie had inadvertently given power of attorney to the Balboas' shady accountant, who then disappeared with their fortune. There was no choice but to auction off their home and possessions. To add insult to injury, a visit to the doctor's office confirmed that Rocky was suffering from Cavum septum pellucidum, a condition common to boxers who take too many hard hits to the head. This effectively ended his fighting career. The announcement of Rocky's official retirement made headlines. 

Comeback and Later Life
In 1995, opened a small Italian restaurant in the neighborhood. He named it Adrian's, after his beloved wife. The walls of the place were adorned with several family photos as well as magazine covers and pictures from throughout Rocky's fighting career. The patrons loved it when Rocky would visit their table and tell them stories about his past fights.

Rocky's world came crashing down in 2002 when Adrian succumbed to ovarian cancer.

By early 2005, Rocky was pushing 60 and living out his days mainly focusing on his restaurant, his financial troubles long behind him. No longer the huge celebrity he once was, he was content with the modest life he'd been living for the past fifteen years, although he continued to be recognized on the streets and receive friendly greetings from fellow Philadelphians.

After catching the ESPN-broadcast virtual reality contest Then and Now between Rocky Balboa in his prime and the current heavyweight champ Mason "The Line" Dixon, in which Rocky was proclaimed the winner, he felt a desire to get back into the ring once more. Ever since losing Adrian, Rocky had felt like a beast was eating away at him inside, and he felt a few small local fights would pull him back out of his lonely state.

His decision to return to boxing was ridiculed by nearly everyone, including Paulie and Robert. He was even initially turned down by the boxing commission when he applied for a boxing license. They eventually granted it when they discovered, through more advanced medial equipment, that Rocky's brain damage was not as severe as was originally thought years ago.

After some thinking over and speaking with Robert, Paulie and Marie, Rocky accepted a non-title bout with then heavyweight champion Mason 'The Line' Dixon.

In a thrilling battle, Rocky knocks down Dixon in Round 2 but fails to get the knockout. After going the distance with Dixon, the fight ended and with Dixon winning a split-decision. However, Rocky already began walking out before this was even declared. The beast he felt that was eating him from the inside disappeard after the fight ended, and Rocky found peace in himself.

After the fight, Rocky visited Adrian's grave, claiming that he never would've done anything without her. Before kissing her grave, he spoke his last words in the franchise, "Yo Adrian, we did it. We did it." He then walked away, waving at Adrian, and the viewers, before fading away.

Last modified on Tuesday, 15 January 2019 02:05


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