Monday, June 13, 2011

A Fictional Boxing Farce?

WARNING: I might throw some Philly history/reference into this post. It could make a Mets fan or a Cowboys fan possibly puke while reading it. You have been warned.

Yesterday, Mr. Sylvester Stallone spoke during the International Boxing Hall of Fame ceremony to induct the famed fictional boxer Rocky Balboa.

And to think, 35 years and a few odd sequels later, he's in the real Hall.

A lot of people may see this decision to induct the film boxer to be one of three things: a publicity stunt, a monumental move in the boxing world, or an absolutely dumb idea. I'll give my view on each of the three...

Publicity Stunt: Since boxing is nowhere near as big as it once was and that it's been almost completely overshadowed by everything MMA, you would think the International Boxing Federation would go to great lengths to spice things up and regain attention by inducting Balboa. I won't lie, it got my attention once it was announced six months ago.
Monumental Move: Because the concept of boxing is dying in a lot of regions, inducting a well-known figure such as Rocky Balboa could possibly have a chance of revitalizing the product and go, "Albeit fake, this guy is what boxing is all about." Because of what he did in the sport, such as inspiring future boxers and having surprisingly good record (I'm not joking, look it up yourself), the IBF may have found it fair and fit to make Balboa a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame
A Totally Stupid Idea: He's not real. Need I say more? Sure, he fought Carl freakin' Weathers and Mr. T., but does that mean he would be able to win a non-scripted fight? Do you think he would be able to fight a guy like Evander Holyfield in real life? I pity the fool who would even picture that bout.

Since the announcement was made in December, I've been on the fence about the whole idea of inducting a fictional character into a prestigious Hall of Fame. I've juggled the three ideas mentioned above as of late, and I've come to decide that what the IBF did was a sly (no pun intended) move.

I don't care if he's a Kenzo or Italian or anything like that at this point. He's the pure definition of an underdog and what an underdog should be. People associate the city of Philadelphia being the city of bums, the city of trashy people, and a city filled with crime and pompous idiots. The character Rocky sort of erased that and proved that a small seed could be a big tree when given the chance to grow. He showed that not all bad things come out of a life of a "bum." Sure, he had some awkward happenings after being champion (like having a robot in his mansion and then fighting a 'roided Russian'), but he always had that "comeback kid" inside of him. Once he was given the time to shine, he shocked the heck out of everyone.
Not only could he be an inspiration to the underdogs of the world, but he could be an inspiration to the people that no longer think they have the "fight" in them, whether it's physically, mentally, or emotionally. Grant it, he was always portrayed as a knucklehead, but he knew what he was talking about at certain times.

If you follow this link, you'll see what I mean.

But hey, if the IBF thinks they made the right choice, then more power to them. The sport of boxing is heavily lacking nowadays, and inducting Rocky Balboa might have been the right thing to do. Even though he isn't real, he made a huge contribution to the world of boxing, and there really is no denying it. He taught fighters to have heart and to live out your dreams. It's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get back up after being knocked down.
As many people are already familiar, the city of Philadelphia does in fact have a statue of Rocky. Although the statue isn't in front of the Art Museum anymore [It's been moved a few times over the past 20-odd years], it's still a tourist attraction and huge icon in the city. Heck, even tourists today still run up the Art Museum steps just because Rocky did it. I have yet to do that (as I have mentioned on Twitter recently), but someday I will...because I want to be a champion in what I do.

All I can say is congratulations to Sly Stallone for creating such a memorable character. 
Yo Adrian, he did it.

Now I wonder if Maggie Fitzgerald from Million Dollar Baby will now be posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame. Uh oh, I just blew the ending for people who never saw the movie. Whoops.

PS - I listened to this song while I was writing this piece. I think it could pump anybody up. Rocky IV had some good 80's workout music.



Greg said...

Only real rebuttal I could give at the moment is that while it is encouraging (great movie, great representation of the underdog in our city), it's kind of a slap in the face to those who really did make it to the hall of fame with real efforts and their unique stories. I feel a character may have more of a prominence than some of the boxers in there just because he's more well known since he was in a highly advocated movie.

The movie is great motivation, as well as the soundtrack from some of them as well. However, a character who was created through a writer's thoughts and portrayed in on the big screen doesn't seem to pack the same punch as any of the members careers if you get right down to it.

Sue said...

Sue says... I agree. It is a slap in the face to all of the real people who work so hard at their sport. I liked the movies as much as the next guy but NOT REAL.