Sylvester Stallone studied up on real boxing matches so he could steal their moves to make the boxing scenes in Rocky look as authentic as possible.
Stallone wrote the 1976 movie despite not knowing very much about boxing, but he did his homework, such as studying up on real boxing matches like Muhammad Ali’s bout against Chuck Wepner in 1975.
The movie’s director, the late John Avildsen, was also a great help because he encouraged the Rambo star to think of his footwork and punching as if he was dancing.
Sylvester Stallone ‘borrowed from the world’s greatest fights’
When talking about the fight scenes in his new documentary 40 Years of Rocky, Stallone revealed, “I started to borrow things from the world’s greatest fights and condense them into moments in our film, so everything you’ve ever seen in Rocky has happened before.”
Stallone also spoke about how he had true professional helping him in Carl Weathers, who played Apollo Creed in the film. “Carl Weathers was the greatest film boxer of all time,” says Stallone. He looked like a champion boxer too.
On Weathers, Stallone further added: “This man could move… Then we hired [stunt coordinator] Jimmy Nickerson, who blocked out the actual boxing scenes so that they were believable.”
Stallone confessed that none of them realized what a good boxer Weathers was; to begin with; they had all thought of him as just an actor, but he turned out to be a knock-out in the ring. Weathers even knocked out the stunt coordinator.
“Carl actually knocked Jimmy out once. He would spar with real fighters like Sonny Shields. Jimmy thought Carl was just an actor, but he’s a powerful man, and he blasted him! He eventually knocked him down for real. We used eight-ounce gloves that were not doctored up, and we really hit with them.”
Stallone also sang the praises of musical composer Bill Conti who he says gave the movie real class by introducing classical music.
“I cannot express how important he was to this movie,” Stallone said of Conti. “He took it to another level with classical music in an unclassical film. It was a very interesting dynamic. They wanted to use rock music at one time, talking about Jimi Hendrix. But bringing in Bill, he figured it all out.”
40 Years of Rocky is set to be released on digital platforms on June 9.
The Rocky movie spawned one of the most successful movie franchises
The Rocky movies went on to become a hugely successful franchise with eight films produced; the most recent was Creed II in 2018, which was a nod to Rocky IV and saw Adonis ‘Donnie’ Creed battling it out with Ivan Drago’s son Victor Drago.
There was some sad news for Sylvester Stallone last month when his co-star from Rambo Brian Dennehy sadly passed away after contracting sepsis.