Rocky: The Greatest Boxing Movie of All Time

The Rocky franchise has become one of the biggest franchise of all time, featuring 6 movies and many other spin-off movies. The first movie “Rocky” has managed to become one of the greatest underdog stories of all time, and continues to inspire new generations of boxers and athletes.


Alan Light

Sylvester Stallone exiting a movie theatre in 1978.

By Niklas da Silva Ekberg, Staff Writer

The 70’s hit movie Rocky was the highest-grossing film in 1976 and solidified Sylvester Stallone’s career as a movie director and an actor. The movie follows Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer who never had a chance to make it big until Apollo Creed, the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, challenges him for the title. 

The movie opens with Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone, fighting in a small ring with a crowd of about 20 people. After winning the match, Rocky earns a whole 40.55 dollars, showing his current situation as a small-time boxer. In the next scene, Rocky goes to the pet store and talks to Adrian Pennino, played by Talia Shire, who works at the pet store and is generally irritated by Rocky. Despite what Adrian thinks of him, Rocky secretly loves her. 

In the bar scene, Rocky speaks to Paulie Pennino, played by Burt Young, who is Adrian Pennino’s brother, alcoholic, and Rocky’s friend. Rocky convinces Paulie to try to talk with Adrian to convince her to go out on a date with Rocky. The scene cuts to Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers, the heavyweight champion of the world and the main antagonist of the movie. The movie takes place in 1976, and Apollo needs a competitor to fight on America’s 200th anniversary, but none of the elite boxers want to lose to him, especially on America’s 200th anniversary. he decides to give a random Philadelphia boxer a shot at fighting him, that boxer happened to be the Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa. 

The movie cuts back to Rocky and Paulie walking back to Paulie’s house to try to get Adrian to go out on a date with Rocky. Paulie is very aggressive and tries to force Adrian out of the house, whereas Rocky talks softly to her and convinces her to go out on a date. they go to an ice-skating ring since that’s what Adrian loves to do and Rocky talks a lot about his past, like his old fights and why he got into boxing. The scene ends in Rocky’s apartment, where he and Adrian kiss. 

Rocky meets with his old boxing coach, Mickey Goldmill, played by Burgess Meredith, who owns the gym that Rocky has been training in for the past 6 years. Mickey is no longer interested in training Rocky, and when Rocky asks him why, Mickey tells him that he saw Potential, but Rocky never took a chance to become a professional. right afterward, Rocky accepts the challenge Apollo gave him and the news spread quickly. Mickey goes to visit Rocky to explain that he was a boxer for 50 years but never got a chance at the title because he never had a manager and then offers to become Rocky’s manager. Understandably, Rocky is angry, wondering where Mickey’s help was for the past 6 years. in the end, Rocky accepted Mickey’s apology. 

The next 35 minutes of the movie is filled with training montages, as well as Rocky going out with Adrian, all building up for the big fight. in the final scene before the match, rocky is lying in bed with Adrian, talking to her about the fact that he’s not there to win but to last as long as possible. “All I want to do is go the distance. no one has ever gone the distance with Creed, and if I can go that distance, I’ll know for the first time in my life, that I weren’t just another bum from the neighborhood” 

[THIS PARAGRAPH CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING THE MOVIE] Rocky enters the ring with small cheers and a robe that has a meat company logo sponsored on it, while Apollo entered dressed as George Washington, throwing money, while riding on a boat to the ring. this entrance scene really helps set the stage that Apollo does not take Rocky seriously and just wants a fight to celebrate America’s 200th Birthday. The first bell rings and Apollo enters by throwing punches and toying with Rocky. When Rocky finally lands a hit, it knocks the champion down. When Apollo gets up his expression changes, he’s no longer toying with Rocky and throws a series of punches and jabs. Rocky responds with his own series of jabs and punches straight to the champion’s chest. At the end of the round rocky gets knocked but is saved by the bell. The match then turns into a compilation of rounds, with Rocky and Apollo exchanging punches. Before the final round, both boxers are completely beaten up. Rocky had his eye cut open so he could see while Apollo had internal bleeding in his chest. the bell for the final round rings and both fighters act much differently from the first round. Instead of using a fury of punches, both boxers wait for the right moment to throw a single punch, while also covering their weak areas. The final bell rings and Rocky is still standing, and although the judges deemed Apollo the victor, Rocky still went the distance and lasted all 15 rounds with the champion. 

Rocky would go on to win the Academy Award for best picture, best directing, best film editing, as well as the Golden Globe Award Best Motion Picture – Drama. The actors did an incredible job with their roles, especially Burt Young and Burgess Meredith, who were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The clothing was spot on as it was really separated Rocky and Apollo by giving Rocky worn, and baggy clothes while giving Apollo sharp and expensive suits. The music was orchestrated by Bill Conti, who after his success with the Rocky soundtrack, went on to orchestrate music for other successful franchises, like James BondThe Karate Kid, and the rest of the Rocky franchise. Bill Conti orchestrated all-time classics in Rocky such as “going the distance”, “the final bell”, and the most well-known of them all, “Gonna fly now”. The film takes place entirely in a poor area in Philadelphia, where Rocky was born. one of the most impressive aspects of the film happens to be the budget. compared to other 1977 Golden Globe Award Best Motion Picture – Drama nominees like all the president’s men with a budget of 8.5 million USD and voyage of the damned with a budget of 7.3 million USD, Rocky only had a budget of a little over 1.1 million USD. 

Rocky is now 45 years old, and some of Rocky’s editing and sound design hasn’t entirely held up to modern standards. some of the commentary during the Rocky VS Apollo match is often cut off or incomprehensible, some of the music that plays in scenes will often play a second or two after the scene began, and some of the punch sounds don’t link up with the punches on screen. It’s nothing that would completely ruin the film, but it is noticeable. Rocky is an absolute classic of a film, and I would have to recommend this to people who enjoy inspirational movies or those who like a good underdog story.