Published On: Sat, Jun 4th, 2016

When Muhammad Ali took a dig at Sylvester Stallone’s ‘Rocky Balboa’


Hollywood megastar Sylvester Stallone’s 1976 film Rocky told the rags to riches story of an underdog boxer, Rocky Balboa, who gets the chance of a lifetime to fight against the reigning heavyweight champion of the world.

The film turned out to be a critical and commercial success, earning over $225 million worldwide, and went on to win three Oscars, including the Best Picture.(Boxing legend Muhammad Ali dies aged 74)

Sylvester Stallone’s career skyrocketed after that film and he turned into a star overnight. He wrote and starred in six more sequels which have since collectively grossed more than USD 1 billion at the worldwide box office. (Muhammad Ali: 1942 – 2016)

Stallone’s inspiration for the Rocky series came from the 1975 title fight between then world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali and world ranked contender Chuck Wepner. Wepner had knocked Ali off his feet in the ninth round. The fight went on for fifteen rounds and Ali was declared the winner through a technical knockout. (Key dates in Muhammad Ali’s life and career)

In Stallone’s film, Apollo Creed’s character was based on Ali and Wepner was played by Rocky. Ali, who was made to look like the anti-hero in the film, wasn’ t too impressed with the final outcome of the movie. (Parkinson’s Disease: A look into Mohammad Ali’s health battle)

So much so that he took a dig at Stallone after watching the film and was quoted as saying, ” I have been so great in boxing they had to create an image like Rocky, a white image on the screen, to counteract my image in the ring. America has to have its white images, no matter where it gets them. Jesus, Wonder Woman, Tarzan and Rocky.” (Historic first Liston fight gave birth to Ali legend)


Ali though later claimed that he really liked the first Rocky and had made peace with the way he was portrayed on screen.

He was also present during the Oscars in 1977 and came face-to-face with Stallone and had a mock fight with the actor, who was on stage to announce the Best Supporting Actress nominations.

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology