The Rocky Movies Put the Spotlight Back on Philadelphia Boxing.

This year is the 45th Anniversary of the hit sequel in the Rocky movie series. The sports drama is based on Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) struggles to live with fame and translating it to being an everyday family man. The film’s climax is a rematch between he and Apollo Creed. The film also stars Talia Shire, Burt Young, and Carl Weathers.

The original Rocky character, who is loosely based on Bayonne, New Jersey fighter named Chuck Wepner. Wepner now has a statue in Bayonne in his honor. In March of 1975, Chuck Wepner fought Mohammed Ali in Richfield Collesium in Ohio.

Photo Courtesy of the BBC.

The fight was undecided for 15 rounds, and even saw Wepner knock down Ali. But in Round 15 Ali knocked out Wepner and retained his title.

Philadelphia has a long history of boxing greatness. Joe Frazier moved here when he was fifteen years old, and Bernard Hopkins, Benny Bass, and Jack O’Brien were legends.

Philadelphia has deep roots in boxing, too. In 1876, two Philadelphia bare knuckle fighters Jimmy Weeden (1846–77) and Billy Walker (1857–76) squared off.

Photo Courtesy of ESPN

In an interview in 2022, Wepner spoke about the deep meaning that the statue has for him, “The reason I’m here is because of all of you guys. I’ll never repay Bayonne,” Wepner said. “I’m going to ask the mayor; when I go, I’m being cremated — stick me down next to my statue.”

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