In the first Rocky movie, the climax comes near the end of the film when an unknown Italian southpaw gets a chance to box the reigning heavyweight champion. Apollo Creed, the flamboyant titleholder, sees the fight as an exhibition more than a serious boxing match. He plans to dance around the ring, give his opponent a chance to have his moment in the spotlight, entertain the crowds, and then knock out Rocky. The problem is, no one told Rocky Balboa, the “Italian Stallion,” that it was a show. He came to fight.
In the first round, Rocky catches Apollo Creed with the full force of a left uppercut and Apollo hits the mat like a sack of wheat. It is the first time he has ever been knocked down in a fight. When he gets to his feet he begins to beat on Rocky mercilessly, but the challenger simply won’t stay down. He won’t quit.
When the bell sounds for the second round, these two men go to war. They exchange punches over the next twelve rounds and Rocky is on the receiving end of most of them.
By the fourteenth round, Rocky is stumbling around the ring like a drunken man. Then Creed floors him with a fierce right upper-cut that sends him sprawling to the mat. The referee begins the ten-count as Rocky tries to stand. His face is swollen and bloody, his body is beaten, and his energy reserves have been on empty for at least three rounds. His trainer, Mickey, screams, “Down! Down! Stay down!” He pleads with Rocky to just give in to the inevitable and stay on the mat.
But as the referee gets to “nine,” Rocky staggers to his feet. The crowd chants his name over and over again. Apollo, who has thrown his hands in the air as a declaration of victory, looks over at Rocky in disbelief. The fight continues. Rocky pounds the champ with a shattering punch that cracks his ribs just as the bell sounds to end the fourteenth round.
In Rocky’s corner, the fatigued and relentless boxer’s eye is so puffy that he can’t see. He orders Mickey, “Cut me.” In Apollo’s corner, his trainer tells the champ, “You’re bleeding inside; I’m gonna stop the fight.” The injured champ responds with fierce determination, “You ain’t stopping nothing! You ain’t stopping nothing!” Just before the bell sounds to bring the two boxers back to the center of the ring, Rocky says to his trainer, “You stop this fight, I’ll kill you.” By the end of the fifteenth and final round, both fighters are standing — but barely!
This movie won three Oscars, including best picture of 1976. It was made on a budget of 1.1 million dollars and was filmed in twenty-eight days. But it eventually made over 225 million dollars and inspired six more Rocky films.
There is something compelling about a person with an unquenchable spirit. We are drawn to those who won’t give up, won’t give in, and won’t stay down on the mat. In our hearts, all of us wish we had the strength and courage to get back up on our feet when life has knocked us down . . . again.
Let's chat! Give an example of a movie or book character with an unquenchable spirit and shocking resiliency when faced with powerful adversity. Who are people drawn to a character like this?