Rocky Balboa: Southpaw, Champion, Icon

During class this week we discussed icons and brands. Olivia brought up an excellent point that every icon and brand we discussed in class from Justin Bieber to James Frey had a shelf life. They all were essentially fads that had to reinvent themselves to stay relevant. While that is true for almost all icons I believe that one has an unending shelf life. One has continued to be an icon that affects a lot of people since its inception. That icon is the character of Rocky Balboa played by Sylvester Stallone. Rocky Balboa first appeared in 1976 in the prize fighting (boxing) film “Rocky.” Since it was first released it has spawned five sequels, video games, toys, reality shows, numerous parodies, and countless films attempting to imitate the underdog story of the Italian Stallion’s rise from nothing to champion (I’m looking at you “Cinderella Man” and “The Fighter”). However, no imitations have had as lasting an impact as Rocky Balboa. Rocky’s iconic status has risen so high that the steps before the entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Pennsylvania are known as the “Rocky Steps” due to Rocky running up them in his famous montage. Rocky also has a bronze statue at the bottom of the Museum steps, which is a big tourist attraction. Rocky’s iconic character status has even reached beyond the realm of film and into the real world. Not only has the American Film Institute named Rocky Balboa the 7th greatest movie hero of all time but also, in December 2010, it was announced that Rocky would be inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame. I could go on for days talking about Rocky and how, since its’ creation, this iconic character has been a commentary on America and the American Dream that anything is possible if one works hard enough to achieve their goal. “Rocky” has managed to create careers for actors like Mr. T and his famous catchphrase (first heard in “Rocky III”). I will conclude by saying that Rocky Balboa is one icon that has never had to change to stay relevant. His character is as relevant now as it was in 1976. And unlike some icons like Justin Bieber and James Frey, who some know of and others don’t, if you walk down the street and polled fifty people on who is Rocky Balboa, I’m positive you will hear fifty people say, “Great boxing character” or “He hit a side of beef and drank raw eggs” or even “Yo, Adrian!!!” To end this blog, I’m going to leave you with some of my favorite Rocky scenes in each film and a photo of Rocky’s statue.

Links To My Favorite Rocky Scenes:

Rocky 1: Iconic Montage

Rocky 1: Iconic Ending:

Rocky 2: Iconic Win:

Rocky 3: Mr. T’s Famous Line:

Rocky 3: Apollo and Rocky spar:

Rocky 4: Drago One-liner:

Rocky 4: Montage:

Rocky 4: US vs. USSR:

Rocky 5: Sucked. Worst Rocky Film. It doesn’t deserve clips remembering. No Clips

Rocky Balboa: Why he is still an icon: Rocky Speech

– Bryan Gleason


One thought on “Rocky Balboa: Southpaw, Champion, Icon

  1. Great post Bryan, though it’s James Frey, not Stephen – I think you might be mashing him up with Stephen Glass?

    And I loved the Rocky III quotes – I think you were referring to “I pit the fool” as Mr. T’s catchphrase, but that little segment also had my favorite line from Rocky III:

    Sports journalist: “What’s your prediction for the fight?”

    Clubber Lang: “Pain.”

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