Chuck Wepner

From Academic Kids

Chuck Wepner (born approx. 1946) is a former Heavyweight boxer. Although Wepner had a career of ups and downs, he did something that transcended boxing.

Wepner, nicknamed "The Bayonne Bleeder" debuted as a professional boxer in 1964, and began posting many wins and some losses. But after losing fights to George Foreman (by knockout in three) and Sonny Liston (by knockout in ten) many boxing fans thought that his days as a contender were counted. After the fight with Liston, Wepner needed over 120 sutures in his face.

He also lost a fight to Jose King Roman by a decision in Puerto Rico.

However, after losing to Joe Bugner by a knockout in three in England, Wepner won nine of his next eleven fights, including victories over Charlie Polite and former world Heavyweight champion Ernie Terrell.

Then, in 1975, it was announced Wepner would challenge Muhammad Ali for the world's Heavyweight title. Wepner had previously been forced to work as a liquor salesman and security guard to make ends meet. This was the first time he had been able to train full time for a bout. Most fans took the fight as a joke, and Ali was heavily favoured to retain the belt in the fight, held on March 24 at Cleveland. Against all expectations, however, Wepner managed to knock down Ali when he reached his ribs with a right hand in the ninth round and sent the champion to the canvas. The knock down itself was questionable, and Ali may have just slipped, getting hit in the ribs as he was falling. Ali pummeled Wepner and was never in any trouble during the fight, but Wepner's brave performance in taking lots of punishment and 'knocking down' Ali inspired many. He was knocked out in the 15th round from a right hand to the jaw.

In New York City, a struggling actor named Sylvester Stallone had bought a television set with $100 he had as a birthday present to watch the Ali-Wepner bout. After watching the fight, Stallone became inspired to write the script for a Hollywood movie entitled Rocky, which became a blockbuster, spawning four sequels. Wepner hence also earned the nickname The Real Life Rocky.

Wepner used his newly found celebrity to venture in professional wrestling, and he went to Japan to participate in the undercard where he met wrestler Antonio Inoki.

Wepner kept boxing until 1978, when he lost to Scott Frank by a decision in twelve and then retired.

In 1986, he ran into trouble and was arrested, going to jail for a short period of time. During the 1990s, he was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, and he has led a relatively quiet life since.

In 2003, Wepner filed a lawsuit against Stallone for money supposedly owed to him for the Rocky movies. He has claimed that Stallone has used Wepner's name numerous times without permission when he talks about the inspiration for Rocky Balboa. Two of his other claims have already been thrown out by U.S. District Court judges. A trial date has not been set.

Wepner had a record of 31 wins (17 of which were knockouts), 14 losses, and 2 draws.


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