Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



Rocky Balboa Elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame 10

Posted on December 08, 2010 by Dean Hybl

It was quite a journey for Rocky Balboa from a Philadelphia meat locker to the Boxing Hall of Fame.

Since the day he first burst onto the boxing scene with his improbable performance against Apollo Creed on January 1, 1976, it was probably inevitable that one day Rocky Balboa would take his rightful place as a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Of course the only trouble with that hypothesis is the reality that Rocky Balboa was a fictional character created by actor Sylvester Stallone and not actually a real-life boxing icon.

So, instead of actually inducting Balboa, the Boxing Hall of Fame has done the next best thing and bestowed that honor on Stallone, who not only created the character, but then played Balboa in six installments of one of the greatest sports movie franchises in history.

Because all of the Rocky movies have now been on television so many times that even casual Rocky fans can recite most of the lines and the story line has been hijacked in countless other movies, it is easy to forget the initial impact of this Cinderella story.

When Sylvester Stallone wrote and starred in the original Rocky in 1976 he was not the internationally recognized action star he has become over the last 35 years.

Rocky was filmed on a budget of $1 million and shot in 28 days. But this dark-horse movie immediately struck a cord with the American public and made over $225 million (a huge box office gross for 1976).

The film was so well thought of that it received 10 Oscar nominations and won three statues, including best picture.

History now tells us that the studio originally looked at such big-time stars as Robert Redford, James Caan and Burt Reynolds for the title role. I contend that had they decided to cast an already established actor the movie would never have reached the iconic level it enjoys today. Read the rest of this entry →

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      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

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