Everything You Need to Know About 'Rocky' on its 40th Anniversary

After 40 years, Sylvester Stallone’s 'Rocky' still inspires the underdog in all of us and makes us want to drink raw eggs.


Boxing and film have had a common bond since the late 19th century. However, it wasn’t until Nov. 26, 1975, when Rocky hit movie theaters, that the sport of boxing and the silver screen forged a marriage to spawn its own genre in Hollywood.

Over the next 40 years, boxing films dominated the box office: Raging Bull, When We Were Kings, Ali, The Hurricane, Million Dollar Baby, Cinderella Man, The Fighter, and Southpaw, and, of course, the subsequent six Rocky films and Creed.

Rocky’s combination of sport, fighting, blue collarism, and underdog story lines drew an audience that was put on an emotional (even tearful) roller coaster to connect with Sylvester Stallone’s tough-guy character that exudes naïvety and vulnerability. Watching Rocky then, and now, you still feel for Balboa. Mickey, who felt Rocky “had the talent to be a good fighter,” mocked him for being a leg-breaking bum for a second-rate loan shark; Adrian kept snubbing Rocky’s one-sided courtship; and Paulie’s alcoholism almost led to Rocky’s being hit with a baseball bat.

Rocky’s influence was massive. Whether you’re a boxing fan or not, every time you hear those trumpets blaring during Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now,” you get the urge to throw on your rattiest workout clothes, drink a few raw eggs, and sprint up flights of steps. You feel compelled to tackle obstacles, take critics head on, and prove yourself to the naysayers.

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Despite having bad luck, Rocky never gave up. He took each punch–literal and figurative–and continued through life juxtaposed in a burned-out, struggling Philadelphia wondering if his career would ever have a prime. When Apollo Creed (played by Carl Weathers) knocked him down in the 14th round, Mickey implored him to stay down, but Rocky got up and became the first boxer to go the distance with the undefeated champ.

Rocky’s life reached a new start. He beat the odds as an unknown and was no longer just another bum from the neighborhood. He was gonna fly now.

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