Editors' Choice

Rocky: The Best Boxing Movie Of All Time

Steve Porter / November 17, 2016

Boxing movies will always have a place on the big screen, and one of the best boxing movies ever, arguably the best one ever, is Rocky.


If there was ever a perfect storm, this movie had to be it. Before the world came to know Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, Stallone had to shop the Rocky script around to find a potential suitor, the only condition being that Stallone was to play the lead role. Stallone was an unknown at the time, but United Artists liked the script, and although they originally wanted someone else to play the lead, the two parties compromised on a smaller budget in order for Stallone to play Rocky. It was a gamble that paid off for everyone involved. With only a budget of $1.1 million, the film would gross over $225 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film in 1976. Rocky was nominated for ten Oscars and even went on the win three Academy Awards, one of which was the highly coveted Best Picture Award. In the process, Stallone became only the third person in history to be nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor for the same film.


Stallone was great at portraying Rocky, but he also had help from his fellow castmates. Talia Shire was the perfect choice to play Adrian and was nominated for the Best Actress in a Leading Role award. For their work in supporting roles, Burgess Meredith as Mickey and Burt Young as Paulie were both nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.


Source: imdb (© 1976 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.)

Talia Shire/Burgess Meredith/Burt Young. Source: imdb (© 1976 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.)


The movie is so much more than a sports movie. Yes, boxing is the foundation of the film, but it’s about relationships, hard work, and making something of yourself when you have nothing to start with. At the heart of it all, it’s the characters that bring the story to life.


The movie follows Rocky as he’s on his last legs as a boxer, fighting in low-level bouts and collecting cash on the side from people who owe money to the local loan shark and bookie, Tony Gazzo. You get to meet Paulie, his best friend and older brother of his love-interest, Adrian.


Mickey, aka Mick, a former lightweight boxer turned trainer, felt that Rocky had the talent to become a great fighter, but instead threw it away to be a “leg-breaker” for Gazzo.



It wasn’t until Rocky was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fight heavyweight champion Apollo Creed that Mick asked to be his trainer. In this emotional scene, Stallone shows how offended he feels that Mick only offers his help now when in the past he never received any. After airing out all his resentment, Rocky is able to swallow his pride and accept Mick’s offer.



On the outside, Rocky may seem tough, but the more you see him you’ll find that he’s caring, sensitive and non-violent. This is shown when he has an opportunity to break a someone’s thumbs and chooses not to, and not hitting Paulie when he’s drunk and acting violent (which you’ll see below). In another scene, Apollo Creed insults Rocky on TV and later on, Rocky admits to Adrian that Creed’s words actually hurt him.


Adrian starts out much shyer and closed-off than Rocky is, but as the film progresses, you can see the influence that Rocky has on her and she’s slowly able to come out of her shell. Paulie, who helped set the two up for romance, is an alcoholic and prone to act out. The best of Adrian and Paulie can be seen in this scene here:



In addition to the acting, the sound was also outstanding for the film. “Gonna Fly Now” was nominated for Best Original Song and Rocky was also nominated for Best Sound Mixing.


Featured image via YouTube (MGM – 1976)