In 1976, a worldwide pop-culture phenomenon was born. The first Rocky movie came out in December 1976. The last movie came out in December 2006 which has made the Rocky legacy span 30 years and beyond.
The first Rocky was start of an inspirational story. Rocky Balboa was a club fighter working the docks for the mafia. He was hand chosen by Apollo Creed for a fight that was more like a publicity stunt. Rocky trained hard, had the city of Philadelphia behind him and hung in for the full fight with the champ. The fight with Apollo Creed ended in a split decision but it didn’t end there. The iconic movement of Rocky Balboa was just beginning.
In Rocky 2, it started off with Rocky wanting to be retired and live a normal life. He kept getting pressured by Creed for a rematch. After months of taunting Rocky accepted the fight and began training. He went on to defeat Creed in which the iconic phrase began. “Yo Adrian I did it!” For years that became synonymous with Sylvester Stallone and the movie franchise. Another thing that became synonymous with Rocky and Sylvester Stallone is the running of the steps in Philadelphia. That has always been on my bucket list. Someday I want to go to Philly and run those steps much like the movie hero I grew up watching.
Rocky 3 was had a star studded cast with Mr. T and Hulk Hogan. Rocky faces adversity when he loses to Clubber Lang and his manager Mickey passes away. He was approached by his old nemesis Apollo Creed to get back the title his lost. Rocky learns a new style under Creed’s training and wins back his title from Clubber Lang. At the end of the movie Rocky and Apollo meet in a private gym with no lights, cameras or media and it ends with a shot of the two of them hitting each other.
During the mid 80’s when there was so much paranoia about the Soviet Union and the Cold War it was incorporated in Rocky 4 when Ivan Drago killed Apollo Creed in an exhibition bout. Rocky went to Russia to fight Drago for no money, no title and endured some horrible conditions for training. After walking into a hostile Russian crowd Balboa won the hearts of the Russians by the end of the fight because of his heart and determination.
Over the years any negativity that the Rocky legacy got was directed at Rocky 5. Rocky was not in the role of a fighter but the trainer of young fighter Tommy Gunn. Rocky was diagnosed with brain damage was told never to fight again. He kept having flashbacks and did not have priorities with his family in the way they wanted. In the end Tommy turns on Rocky and the movie ends with a street fight.
Sixteen years later after Rocky 5 came out, Rocky Balboa hit the big screen with the finale of Rocky’s career. He is now retired, owning a restaurant and Adrian is deceased. It was almost like a remake of the original Rocky where he has to overcome the odds and is the heavy underdog against Mason Dixon. The Rocky character comes full circle and goes the distance against the modern day champ.
For over 30 years the Rocky Balboa character has inspired so many different in so many ways. The character was so many different situations and against a variety of opponents. I truly believe that the legacy of Rocky Balboa will live in on for a very long time. Whether I am listening to “Eye of the Tiger” or “Living in America” the Rocky series will always have a strong place in my heart.
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you’re hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” -Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa (2006)