Imagine telling people that you were the inspiration for Rocky Balboa – the mumbling nobody who trains up quite hard for a fight and then gets leathered by the bloke who got his arm torn off by the Predator.
But that's exactly what Chuck Wepner is – Sylvester Stallone has always been happy to admit that Rocky Balboa was conceived after he watched Wepner get beaten up by Muhammed Ali in 1975. The only thing is, Chuck Wepner thought that Sylvester Stallone should have paid him for being the inspiration for Rocky, and launched a lawsuit against him. But it's all been settled now, and all that's left is for Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Wepner to stagger around bellowing the word "Adrian" into the face of anyone that's trying to ask them a serious question.
The world is starting to catch Rocky fever again. Almost 30 years after the first Rocky movie was released, Sylvester Stallone is preparing to unleash Rocky Balboa – the story of a 60-year-old man who runs up a hill then beats a computer in a fight, or something – on the world. But before the new Rocky movie was released, Sylvester Stallone needed to fix a lawsuit launched against him in 2003 by Chuck Wepner.
Former heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner felt he deserved compensation from Sylvester Stallone for being the inspiration for Rocky. In 1975, Wepner was plucked from obscurity – Rocky-style – by Don King, who offered him a title shot against then heavyweight champion George Foreman. However, Muhammed Ali then beat Foreman so Wepner got the match with him instead, knocking him to the ground before eventually losing 19 seconds before the final bell. In an almost uncanny coincidence, Wepner then went on to beat Muhammed Ali in a rematch, then won subsequent championship matches against Mr T and a Russian bloke who said "I will break you" in an obvious allegory to the Cold War before making a fifth sequel that nobody really liked.
OK, not really. But the first bit captured the imagination of Sylvester Stallone who, in an interview on the Rocky DVD, said:
"What I saw was pretty extraordinary. I saw a man they call `the Bayonne Bleeder' who didn't have a chance at all against the greatest fighting machine supposedly that ever lived."
But, despite all this public admiration, Chuck Wepner still wasnt happy. He claimed that Sylvester Stallone had gone back on a promise to pay him for being Rocky's inspiration, but Stallone in turn claimed that Wepner had already made enough money from making appearances as 'the real Rocky.'
Last week, however, lawyers for Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Wepner filed notice that the lawsuit has been settled for undisclosed terms. Now that everyone's happy, all that's left for Sylvester Stallone to do is to fight off the lawsuit from the evil 3D man who lives in a computer who claims Stallone's role in Spy Kids 3D was based on him.
[story by Stuart Heritage]