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Sylvester Stallone Says Fans Who Misremember Rocky Winning At The End Missed The Point

"Rocky" creator Sylvester Stallone was the poster child for struggling actors before his most famous character went toe-to-toe with the heavyweight champion of the world, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in 1976. Broke and down on his luck, and without the necessary wherewithal, Sly initially turned down $360,000 for his "Rocky" screenplay, according to an interview he had with the "Q with Tom Power Podcast". The studio originally didn't want to cast a nobody from nowhere in the lead role, but Stallone stood his ground and won the part.

The film took home the Academy Award for Best Picture. Stallone won Best Actor in a Leading Role, and he also garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Today, the famous underdog story of the Italian Stallion is known the world over, but it still breaks Sly's heart when the fans wrongly recall that Rocky Balboa, not Apollo, won their first fight. The point of the original movie was never about Balboa becoming the top boxer, and it's something else entirely that Sly wants "Rocky" enthusiasts to remember.

"It's [about] him going the distance — surviving," Stallone said during the same sit-down on Power's podcast. "I just thought him winning would have been — it defeats the whole purpose because not all of us are ever going to be 'the champion.' But we can go the distance. We can put up a great fight." The point of the film wasn't about Rocky being a champion pugilist, but, rather, a champ at life. 

Rocky's message wasn't about beating Apollo

Sylvester Stallone landed a heavyweight haymaker back in 1976, and "Rocky" went on to make $117 million during its original theatrical release. Many moviegoers may have viewed the film strictly as a sports story, but those fans were missing the point if they couldn't grasp the heart and breadth of the romance between Rocky Balboa and the woman he loves, Adrian (Talia Shire). And therein lies the story "Rocky" is truly trying to tell.

"The main thing is, the only thing he [Rocky] wanted was his woman, Adrian," Stallone said during his interview on the "Q with Tom Power" podcast. "That's all he was there for. Just prove to her that he wasn't a bum from the neighborhood. And that's something that's attainable." In the film, Rocky does far better in the ring than anyone expects. The Italian Stallion actually forces the judges to make a split decision: two of the men scored Creed the winner, but one actually voted for Balboa.

"Being a champion, it's very rare, difficult," Stallone said in the same interview. But, at the end of the day, Rocky won what mattered most: Adrian's heart. "He wasn't that kind of guy," Stallone elaborated on Rocky's priorities in life. "It [winning] wasn't important to him. She was important to him."