Sylvester Stallone’s incredible, inspiring story of Rocky Balboa instantly transformed my mind-set as a child, and continues to inspire me today. My wife and I recently watched all of the Rocky films, I-V, Rocky Balboa, & CREED. I’ve watched them countless times, (especially Rocky III, which remains my favorite and most motivates me,) and the movies never lose their appeal.
Those who know me well, know my personality & my will, and if they knew me in my childhood, they know where a big part of it was created. I still remember the first time that I watched ROCKY & ROCKY II. The training, the music, & the fights were each very special, but the character of ROCKY was even more so. From his street upbringing to his Italian Stallion wisdom, from his humble approach to his internal pride, he embodied the goodness and determination that anyone could look up to. We find ourselves looking up to this lofty character as we watch him grow, but at the same time, we identify with him because of his humble beginnings.
I was fortunate enough to meet Sylvester Stallone in the early eighties in the midst of the popularity of ROCKY. We were in the city for our annual Macy’s Santa visit & of course to see the tree at Rockefeller Center. We were stopped in traffic, and there, right next to me was Sly Stallone. I looked right at him, but couldn’t believe my eyes. Everyone, was yelling, “Johnny, open the window! It’s Rocky!!!” (I think my Aunt Ronnie said, “It’s Rocko!” She also called Chachi, (Scott Baio,) Choochy, when she & my sisters met him! LOL.) I rolled down the window, (in those days, we actually had to roll down the window.) Sly noticed that we had recognized him, and he was nice enough to roll down his window to say hello. He reached across traffic to shake my hand. There I was, shaking my idol’s hand in midtown traffic! He asked my name, said, “Nice to meet you, Johnny,” and the traffic started to move. He waved goodbye to us, and we waved goodbye as well. I’ll never forget that. I’ve met a lot of famous film, sports, & music stars, but meeting Sly Stallone at that particular moment in time really resonated with me.
I really grew up in a great time, with timeless movies like ROCKY that transcend generations and can have a profound effect on anyone at any age. There’re a lot of little things that you begin to notice about the character of ROCKY as you watch the movies more & more. I still discover new things every time I watch them. You also see beautiful moments & incredible acting from many of the other characters as well. There are really great life lessons in each movie, from the rough & tough Mickey to the smooth-talking Master of Disaster, Apollo Creed, from the mean Clubber Lang to the silence of Drago. Even Pauly’s wisdom at times is heartfelt and extremely meaningful.
As I stated earlier, my all-time favorite ROCKY movie still remains ROCKY III. I personally find this movie motivational & inspirational, partly because of several situational plots in the movie; 1. ROCKY’s on top of the world, and then, in one fateful night, he loses his manager & he loses the Title, 2. ROCKY feels that he was carried & protected by Mickey, and begins to doubt himself, 3. ROCKY is afraid for the first time in his life, & 4. With the help of his beloved Adrian & his friendship with Apollo, he finds the will within, builds himself back up physically & mentally, and becomes more than he previously was, ready to fight the mean, Clubber Lang, (whom I consider to be the # 2 cinema villain of all time, only succeeded by Darth Vader.) The second fight between ROCKY & Clubber is incredible, motivating, & very definitive of the indomitable will of the ROCKY character! It is this will that has always inspired me, and moulded me in a way that I have always sought to emulate.
So, if your feeling that you need a little motivation in your life, physically, mentally, (sometimes mentally irregular,) intellectually, & spiritually, (“Eh yo, Father Carmine!”,) watch each ROCKY movie and learn a lesson, feel inspired, & get motivated to go the distance in whatever it is that you set out to do. You never know when the chance of a lifetime can land on your doorstep. You never know when an opportunity may arise. How will you answer the sound of the bell? On your feet, having gone the distance, or face down on the canvas? I visualize myself as one who will always keep coming after the challenge in front of me, satisfied, partly in seeing the opposition’s expression, bowing their head in disbelief as Apollo did when ROCKY would not give up or stay down. That is always the image in my mind, as I keep moving forward. Sylvester Stallone wrote & directed these masterpieces for all of us to enjoy for all time, & I thank him for doing so.
Until next month,
In words of Micky, “There ain’t no ‘can’t’!!!”
“The Ultimate Meatball,” ~ John D.
P.S. Have a blessed & Happy Easter, and a blessed Passover for all of our Jewish friends.
P.S. Let ROCKY be a continued source of motivation for all of your goals this Spring, & always.