It had to be tough being Rocky Balboa and taking that many jabs to the head. But it was tougher being Sylvester Stallone and coming up with fresh ideas for his Rocky quintet (just rereleased by MGM/UA). On the 20th anniversary of Rocky’s first round, here’s a glance at his fight card.
The punch: Heavyweight champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) gives unknown Rocky shot at title.
Lifestyle change: Rocky falls in love.
Complication: Turtles Cuff and Link run out of food.
The score: Rocky loses by decision.
Running gag: Two runs in Philly climaxing atop art-museum steps.
One for Bartlett’s: ”If the bell rings and I’m still standing … I’ll know I wasn’t just another bum from the neighborhood.”
ROCKY II (1979)
The punch: Creed instigates rematch.
Lifestyle change: Rocky marries Adrian (Talia Shire); Rocky Jr. born.
Complication: Adrian enters coma during delivery.
The score: Rocky and Apollo both hit canvas in 15th; Rocky victorious in final second.
Running gag: One run in Philly (trailed by children) to top of art-museum steps.
One for Bartlett’s: ”I never asked you to stop being a woman … Don’t ask me to stop being a man.”
ROCKY III (1982)
The punch: Rocky loses title to Clubber Lang (Mr. T) in second-round KO; Creed trains him for rematch.
Lifestyle change: Balboa family lives high life.
Complication: Longtime trainer/father figure Mickey (Burgess Meredith) dies.
The score: Rocky wins third-round KO.
Running gag: Rocky and Apollo race eight times on California beach.
One for Bartlett’s: ”Nuthin’ is real if you don’t believe in who you are.”
ROCKY IV (1985)
The punch: Rocky fights Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) in Russia.
Lifestyle change: Family buys female robot companion for Uncle Paulie (Burt Young).
Complication: Drago kills Creed in exhibition match.
The score: Rocky defeats Drago after 15 brutal rounds.
Running gag: Rocky runs through frozen tundra as disbelieving peasants look on.
One for Bartlett’s: ”I just gotta do what I gotta do.”
ROCKY V (1990)
The punch: Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison) challenges Rocky.
Lifestyle change: Penniless Rocky and Adrian (Shire) move back to old nabe.
Complication: Rocky has brain trauma.
The score: Rocky defeats Gunn.
Running gag: Rocky and son run art-museum steps.
One for Bartlett’s: ”I been running up and down these steps for 20 years, and I never knew there was valuable pictures in this building.”