Tonights documentary The Real Rocky by Jeff Feuerzeig was the story of former heavy weight boxer, Chuck Wepner. Wepner has lived most of his life as a traveling liquor salesman and continues to earn his living through that trade to this day. Boxing was never Chuck’s main priority in life but it was something he was good at. He had worked his way through the heavy weight ranks, and after being beaten by Sonny Liston, Chuck had earned himself the nickname the Bayonne Bleeder due to him being from Bayonne New Jersey, and the fight leaving him with several lacerations on his face. On March 24th 1975 Wepner got his shot at the heavyweight championship of the world against Muhammad Ali. Wepner entered the fight as a massive underdog, but he managed to push Ali to the 15th and final round of the fight. Sylvester Stallone saw this fight and used it as inspiration for his famous Rocky movies. Stallone was always willing to admit that this moment inspired Rocky and even acknowledged that Ali was the inspiration for Apollo Creed, but would never admit that Wepner was Rocky.
This was the first movie so far in this series that actually had a happy ending. In the end Wepner was able to settle outside of court with Sylvester Stallone, so he essentially won that battle. It’s pretty much impossible to not see Stallone as a bad guy in this story. There are far two many similarities between Wepners life and the life of the fictional Rocky Balboa. I can’t even imagine how infuriating it had to be for Wepner when Rocky III came out and featured Stallone going toe to toe with Hulk Hogan, when Wepner himself had battled Andre the Giant in the exact same format only a few years prior. There obviously was a breaking point, and Stallone did have to concede to Wepner but it’s astonishing that he tried to deny it for so many years.
I wish this documentary would have been more about Chuck’s life and not so much about his legal battles with Stallone. I guess maybe I was just expecting Wepners fight with Ali to be the main focus of this documentary but that was really only part of it. I think there is a huge story in the build up to that fight that took place in March of 1975 and Feuerzeig choose to kind of split the focus between the fight with Ali in the ring, and fight with Stallone in court. Everything talking about the lead up to the fight was interesting, it was exciting. I know this is a documentary but there is still usually a climax, and the fight with Ali was clearly the climax of this piece. Everything after the fight was the post climax and it just went on for far too long and the result of that hurt the movie. By the end I was bored, just waiting for it to end. I guess in a way this is kind of reminiscent of Chuck Wepners life. His court battles with Stallone were interesting, but not nearly as entertaining as his fight against the greatest of all time Muhammad Ali.