The names mentioned for induction into the Boxing Hall of Fame is very impressive. The biggest name is Mike Tyson, but not that much behind him in popularity is the great Julio Cesar Chavez. Kostya Tszyu is part of the class as well, and so is Sylvester Stallone, a name that has gotten harsh feedback from the boxing community because he never stepped into the ring.
When I first heard that Stallone was being inducted, I thought that it was well deserved, mainly because of the impact the ROCKY series had on me and how it was partially responsible for bringing me into the sport.
The first movie in the series I saw was ROCKY III when I was ten years old. It was well before I got into boxing and, at the time, I didn’t have much of an interest in the sport or the film, but HBO, when there was only one channel, didn’t give me much of a choice, so I watched it. I was hooked. Watching Rocky Balboa lose and then comeback was amazing to me at the time. The mixture of music and action, colorful villain, good storyline, and the idea of a person down and out climbing to the top was a can’t miss combination.
In the days of video stores, I rented the first two ROCKY films and although I didn’t appreciate them as much as I do now, I still found them fascinating and I began watching the sport when it was on.
I was happy to see ROCKY IV on the big screen in 1985, when I was 11 years old, and although much of the film was filler and montage after montage, music video after music video, it was still greatly entertaining. The horrible villain was back, an unbeatable monster that Rocky would have to defeat. It was unrealistic but it was fun. The ROCKY series began as a drama and went into the direction of 80’s action, just as the DEATH WISH movies had done. It capitalized on the times, and it brought boxing to the masses.
ROCKY would have two more entries after the fourth, a fifth flick featuring heavyweight Tommy Morrison as Tommy “Machine” Gunn, and a sixth, featuring Antonio Tarver as Mason “The Line” Dixon. Both entries have gotten mixed reviews…well, the fifth has been universally panned, but I enjoyed it. So, mixed reviews on ROCKY BALBOA, and everyone hates number five, but me.
Why is Stallone being inducted for six boxing movies? It’s not that he just played the fighter, but that he wrote the movies and he opted to employ boxers in the roles rather than take actors. Tommy Morrison benefited greatly from his role in the movie. Others like Tarver, Henry Tillman, Mike Williams, and Joe Frazier have also been featured. He brought boxing personalities in as well. He loves the sport and tries to bring attention to it through his films and has done so.
Stallone would produce the hit series “THE CONTENDER” for NBC, another contribution to the sport. He brought the viewers into the lives of the fighters, made good programming that the non-fans would enjoy, and helped boost the careers of fighters like Sergio Mora, Alfonso Gomez, Peter Manfredo, JR., and many more. Although the reality boxing show never made far beyond the first season, losing popularity as it progressed, it made a mark in the first run, and earned the sports some fans.
There is the contention that the inclusion of Stallone in the mix of inductees is a publicity stunt to draw even more attention and that an unfortunate side effect will be loss of attention to those like Chavez and Tszyu, and that may be true, but the decision has to be made to either include non-boxers or exclude them, and if you include them, Stallone has contributed greatly to the sport and as far as non-boxers go, he has earned a spot. It’s too bad that it may take away from the other inductees, but he shouldn’t be excluded because of that concern.
Boxing is a sport that gets very little respect and not the attention is deserves. When you look at the vast amount of talented fighters, it gets frustrating that only Manny Pacquiao seems to get the popular press. Boxing is the best sport in the world, featuring incredible drama and the most courageous athletes, but the lack of respect is offensive to its fans, and that is why there is a big rebellion against Sly Stallone coming to the Hall of Fame.
Publicity stunt, right or wrong, Stallone is in, and you can expect an enormously busy weekend for the inductions, bringing fight fans and just fans of Stallone. Who knows, we may even see the Arm Wrestling Hall of Fame try to bring him in for his role in OVER THE TOP, after all of the publicity surrounding this. Is there an Arm Wrestling Hall of Fame?
RSR congratulates Sly Stallone as well as Tyson, Chavez, Tszyu and the others. It’s going to be a great time for the boxing fans that attend this year’s HOF induction weekend.