Who wrote the screenplay to the 1976 boxing film Rocky?

And the answer: Sylvester Stallone.  

Photo credit: United Images via Men's Health

After watching the championship match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner, Stallone wrote the screenplay for Rocky in just a few days. The movie went on to receive ten Academy Award nominations, and won for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing.

Before Rocky, Sylvester Stallone was yet another aspiring actor in New York City. But after being cast in The Lords of Flatbush (1974), Stallone was convinced to move to California and find success there. However, the endeavor was not without struggle, and Stallone hovered near poverty for several years. That is, until the young actor witnessed the iconic Chuck Wepner vs Muhammad Ali fight.

When there's a match against a great like Ali, the winning bet is rarely placed on the underdog. Yet during this 1975 fight, Wepner delivered a series of blows in the ninth round that ultimately led to Ali's iconic knockdown. This moment of upset served as the major inspiration for Stallone's Rocky. Three days later, the screenplay for Rocky was complete.

However, the road to Rocky's success was still far from over. On the way out of a casting call for a role that he didn't get, Stallone struck up a conversation with producers who were interested in his idea. After reading the script, they were sold, and offered the actor $330,000 to buy the rights. Poverty-stricken Stallone, with only a $106 to his name, refused. In a roll of the dice, he convinced the producers, instead, to invest $1 million in the film's production while letting him star in the film as Rocky himself. Somehow, the producers agreed.

Rocky is a rags-to-riches story of a poor Italian man named Rocky Balboa, an uneducated, kind-hearted working class boxer in the slums of Philadelphia. Rocky's match is against the acclaimed Apollo Creed, the heavyweight boxing world champ. Inspired by the story, the audiences flocked to theaters to watch the fictional match, and Rocky became the highest grossing movie of 1976. The film has since earned many sequels, including one released as recently as 2018.  

Check out the trailer for iconic film below.

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