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Adonis Creed: 12 Facts About The Character That Are A Total Knockout

There are some movie franchises that just don't need to be revisited. After six films about rags-to-riches boxing champ Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), one may think the story had been told. But as it turns out, there was a whole new chapter to explore, and director Ryan Coogler provided that when he wrote and directed 2015's "Creed." This time, Rocky himself took on a supporting role in the story of his old friend Apollo Creed's youngest son, Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), who was on a journey to find his own legacy. 

The sports drama brought new blood to the franchise and a new role for Rocky: mentor. Now, with 2018's "Creed II" and 2023's "Creed III," the saga of Adonis has flourished into a trilogy of its own, continuing the inspiring "Rocky" tradition as we've watched Adonis grow from underdog to fighter to champion on his quest to step outside of his father's enormous shadow. Take a good look at Adonis "Donnie" Creed and unpack who he is and what makes him tick.

Adonis didn't even know his father's name

When we first meet Adonis "Donnie" Johnson in "Creed," it's 1998 and he's in a juvenile detention center. Having been brawling with a kid twice his size, it's clear this boy has a fiery temper and he's not one to back down. The fight is broken up and young Adonis gets hauled to a cell. Waiting to see him is Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad), Apollo Creed's widow. At first, he assumes she's another social worker. Mary Anne mentions his father and confused, Adonis replies, "I don't have no father." Mary Anne explains that he most certainly does have a father and invites him to live with her. The scene ends with Adonis asking about his father's name.

It's a heartbreaking line, knowing that Adonis has no knowledge of his lineage or the legacy he's about to inherit. The youngest of Apollo's children, he was born after his father died. His mother passed away when he was young, possibly taking the secret of their affair to her grave. Somehow, Mary Anne has found him and is ready to rectify the misfortune that has been placed upon his young life.

The meaning of Adonis

Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) was a big personality and was all about bringing the "show" to the boxing arena. That's apparent with his entrance to what would be his last fight in life during the events of "Rocky IV." In Greek mythology, Apollo is the God of music and poetry, among other things. So, Apollo Creed was doing his namesake proud.

Yes, Adonis Johnson was born of an extramarital affair, but those circumstances are extremely tame compared to how the Greek God Adonis came to be. We assume Adonis' mother gave him that name as a way of honoring his late father, who was killed before he was born. Let's be honest, Adonis is a weighty name to give a baby whose future is unclear.

The name Adonis comes from the Greek word "adon," which means Lord. One could argue that he was destined for greatness to become the Lord of the Boxing Ring. In Greek mythology, Adonis is the god of beauty and desire. Good thing they cast People Magazine's 2020 Sexiest Man Alive, Michael B. Jordan, to play the determined boxer.

The line between street kid and rich kid

As a result of the death of Adonis Creed's biological mother, Ms. Johnson, he ended up in foster care at a young age. Being moved around from place to place doesn't make for an easy childhood. The movies don't get much into the specifics of what young Adonis experienced, but it's made known that he considers himself a "street kid" who's fought for everything he had.

When Mary Anne finds Adonis in the juvenile center, she invites him to come live with her. In early "Rocky" films, the audience is shown that Apollo and his family live a much more lavish and financially stable life than Adonis would have known. He quickly goes from rags to riches, which could make for an interesting personality dynamic.

As we catch up with him, adult Adonis first comes off as a spoiled brat when he doesn't get what he wants. In "Creed II," Rocky refuses to train him for a fight against Viktor Drago, the son of the man who killed Apollo, Ivan Drago. Adonis decides to leave Rocky behind and move his family to Los Angeles. When his wife Bianca had brought up the possibility of moving earlier, he didn't want to go because Rocky would be alone. This big move feels like a petulant form of retaliation against his mentor.

Adonis is an Orthodox fighter

Adonis Creed is born of boxing royalty, be he started out learning everything he knew about the sport on his own. During a conversation with Rocky in "Creed" he tells his mentor, "Every punch I've ever thrown has been on my own. Nobody showed me how to do this." His father dying before he was born robbed him of the chance to have proper training from the start. In fact, it's nearly impossible for him to find anyone in Los Angeles willing to train him. Especially resistant is the son of one of Apollo's trainers, Tony "Little Duke" Burton. No one wants to be the guy to train Apollo Creed's son only for him to suffer the same tragic fate.

Things like how to throw a punch or hold a proper stance probably weren't taught to him, rather his natural ability helped him to figure it out on his own. Being self-taught does make his overall style a bit wild and in need of refinement. One thing he has in common with most boxers is his stance, which is Orthodox. This means he stands with his left foot in the front and right foot in the back, keeping his strongest hand in the back. Just one more thing he naturally picked up from his father.

His zodiac sign is on full display

Adonis Creed celebrates his birthday on June 1, which makes his zodiac sign, Gemini, the twins. According to InStyle, in addition to being enthusiastic and clever, one of the many traits of a Gemini is their competitive nature. Since Adonis has chosen a career as a professional boxer, this can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Being competitive in sports is the nature of the beast, but Adonis does have a tendency to let his need to win cloud his judgment. If he wasn't so determined to prove to the world how good he was, he wouldn't have ended up broken and in the hospital after his first fight with Viktor Drago.

The Gemini is also known to have the gift of gab, with a tendency to be very talkative. We can see that whenever Adonis gets into the ring or anywhere near someone he wants to intimidate. He loves trash-talking. He can't stop himself from telling his opponent what he's going to do to them or boasting about what he's just done.

Adonis would have been conceived during Rocky IV

With Adonis Creed being born after his father Apollo was killed in the boxing ring, one starts to question the timeline of Apollo's infidelity. Apollo was married to Mary Anne Creed and the couple had one son and one daughter together, whose names aren't mentioned in the films. Apollo decided to come out of a five-year retirement in order to fight Soviet Olympic boxer Ivan Drago. Tragically, Drago kills him in the ring.

That fight took place on August 31, 1985, in Las Vegas. With Adonis' birthday being June 1, 1986, it's apparent that his fling with Ms. Johnson would have been sometime in August. With all of the training he was supposed to be doing, how did he find the time? While Expert Boxing outlines the possible pros and cons of boxers having sex before a fight, maybe abstaining could have saved his life. 

He's earned impressive fight stats

When we meet Adonis as an adult, he's holding down an office job while getting his fight experience by sneaking out to Tijuana and boxing on the weekends. These excursions have earned him an undefeated record of 15 – 0, all 15 being knockouts.

After his training with Rocky Balboa begins in Philly, he's approached to fight Light Heavyweight Champion "Pretty" Ricky Conlan, who's facing jail time on gun charges and looking for an easy win in one last big fight before he goes in. "Pretty" Ricky's trainer recommends that Adonis carry that record over so he doesn't look so green up against the current Champion.

Adonis gives Ricky a run for his money for all 12 rounds. After being knocked out, continuing with one eye swollen shut, his determination keeps him going until the bitter end, when it comes down to the judges making the call for Ricky's triumph as the reigning Champion. It's Adonis' one loss out of 25 total matches. Yes, technically he did lose that first fight with Viktor Drago, but Viktor was disqualified for hitting Adonis while he was down. 

Adonis can be a tender man

When Adonis Creed moves to Philly, he soon finds that his downstairs neighbor, who plays her music way too loud, may be the woman of his dreams. When he goes to complain about the music, both he and Bianca Taylor are taken aback by their first sight of each other. It doesn't take long for Adonis to ask her out for cheesesteaks and from there, their relationship starts to blossom.

As aggressive as Adonis feels he needs to be in life, that aggression gets put to the side when he shares moments with Bianca. He's genuinely interested in her and her life, keeping up with what she's working on. Knowing she's a musician with her own dreams and her own path, he continues to be a supportive partner in accomplishing her dreams.

The progression of their relationship is beautiful to watch, weaving intimate real-life moments into the larger-than-life sports drama. One need look no further than the scene early in their relationship when he tenderly helps her re-twist her hair. As any Black woman can tell you, this is a true moment of mutual trust and vulnerability.

He picked up a particular pre-fight ritual from Rocky

One can imagine what it must take to get into the proper mindset to go out in front of thousands of people to confront another fighter who wants to take you out. In those few moments before Adonis Creed has to step into that ring, Rocky takes the time to help him center himself. After everyone else gets shooed out of the room, when the cameras are no longer flashing and his adrenaline must be through the roof, there is a calm. Rocky provides this calm by reminding Adonis that the only person he needs to impress is himself. The two fall into a rhythmic sway as Adonis mimics Rocky's jabs.

The other, more delicate part of his ritual is, well, releasing his bowels. While still in the locker room, right before his first big professional fight with Leo "The Lion" Sporino, the anxiety gets the better of Adonis. He begs Rocky to cut his gloves off because he's "freaking out" and has to poop. This gets carried over to "Creed II" before his fight to win his mustang back from Danny "Stuntman" Wheeler, when Bianca asks him in ASL if he has already taken a dump. Quite frankly, this could be the most sensible thing a boxer could do before stepping into the ring.

Adonis' walk-out music holds significance

A boxing match is a show, starting off with a dramatic entrance into the ring from each boxer. According to Sporting News, we have Muhammad Ali to thank for that. When Ali walked out to the "Star Wars" theme for his fight against Ernie Shavers in 1977, it was a game changer. Soon after that, other boxers followed suit. 

Adonis Creed's ring entrances may not be as elaborate as his father's, but it could be said that they have some meaning. In "Creed", "Pretty" Ricky Conlan has a ring entrance that would make Apollo applaud, complete with flashlights in a sea of darkness and a fire breather. By contrast, Adonis has no theatrics, just himself and his team walking out to a "Hail Mary" by the late 2Pac. One lyric that rings through the arena — "I ain't a killer, but don't push me" — may suggest that Adonis isn't really trying to intimidate, just make it known that he is to be watched.

By the time he's the Heavyweight Champ, fighting Viktor Drago for the first time, Adonis is all ego. He walks out to "Icon" by Jaden Smith, with the first line being "What you call an icon living?" Finally, for his re-match with Drago, his now-wife Bianca leads him out singing "I Will Go To War." 

Adonis wants to prove that he's not a mistake

During the final fight in "Creed," Rocky starts to feel some deja vu, wanting to stop the fight like he should have done for Apollo 30 years before. Adonis, recovering from a knockout blow from "Pretty" Ricky Conlan, begs Rocky not to because he has to prove that he's not a mistake. Adonis Creed's life hasn't been the easiest — never knowing his father and losing his mother at such a young age, he's felt that he had to fight constantly for anything and everything, always on a quest to prove himself.

For most of his life, Adonis used his mother's last name, Johnson. Even when he gets to Philly and gets his first fight under Rocky's tutelage, he continues to use Johnson as his surname. After he defeats Leo "The Lion" Sporino, the world pays attention, and it soon comes out that he is the son of Apollo Creed.

"Pretty" Ricky Conlan's manager Tommy Holiday tells Adonis that he has to use the name Creed in order to fight Ricky. This brings up a lot of insecurities for the fighter, as he confesses to Bianca that he's afraid of not being good enough to carry the name. It's not until Mary Anne sends him a pair of boxing trunks that are a replica of Apollo's, with both names embroidered on the waistband, that he begins to fully embrace his birthright.

His hubris could be his downfall

One thing about Adonis Creed is that he will not back down. This trait surely helped to keep him alive in his early childhood, but it carries over well into his adult life. Seemingly a common trait among professional boxers, Adonis will not ignore what he sees as disrespect.

In both "Creed" and "Creed II," he incites several altercations for would could be seen as small infractions. For example, he has to spend the night in jail for beating a guy who called him "Baby Creed." At a weigh-in, he tries to fight Ivan Drago for commenting, "You're much smaller than your father." This guy is always a hair trigger away from throwing a punch.

He doesn't listen to those closest to him when they warn him not to fight Viktor Drago. Adonis wants to believe that he's doing this as a way to avenge his father's death at the hands of Viktor's father. But it seems he no longer needs to prove that he's as good as his father. Now it seems he wants to prove that he's better.

Fighting Viktor proves to be a bad decision that puts Adonis in the hospital with multiple injuries. If Adonis isn't careful, his ego will force his story to end the same way his father's did.