Sylvester Stallone has given fans another revelation surrounding the making of his hit movie franchise ‘Rocky’ during the 1980s.
Filming of Rocky III began in 1981 following two highly successful prequels which took over $400 million at the worldwide box office. Stallone was searching for a real boxer to star as his main rival for the film, which would see him losing his position as champion before heading off on the road to redemption trained by Apollo Creed.
Eventually portrayed successfully by Mr. T (aka Laurence Tureaud), the evolution of the fearsome Clubber Lang took some time before it eventually fell into place for Stallone, who took the directional reigns on Rocky for the second time.
“This story leads to the discovery of Mr. T who went on to give an incredible performance as Clubber Lang,” explained Stallone.
“In Rocky III, I thought we should use a real fighter just to push the envelope to where fighting films had never gone before.
“I decided to use the legendary heavyweight champion from Philadelphia, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, so he cheerfully came to the gym very excited, very happy and very brightly dressed all in green. (He had on) green pants, green shoes, green hat, green shirt (and even) green suspenders!
“He wanted the part very badly and believe me, I wanted him to get it too. Smokin’ Joe Frazier fighting Rocky! This would be seriously entertaining – actually unbelievable!
“So, I naïvely said why don’t we get into the ring and move around a little and see how we look together.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was like going into a lions cage covered in steak sauce and asking, ‘how do you think I will taste?’ This was a very dumb idea…very bad.
“Joe was one of the most punishing fighters that ever lived and other boxers would honestly say that after they fought Smokin’ Joe, they were never, ever the same. Of course I thought that was a slight exaggeration, and I wanted our movie to be special, very realistic no matter what the price.
“Again in retrospect, A very foolhardy, hazardous, and homicidal concept. Once in the ring, I figured I just move around and avoid his punches. That idea worked well for about two seconds.
“Simply, because the next thing I knew there was a thunderous left hook planted extremely deep in my body, (followed by) an overhand right that resembled a falling piano landing just above my left eye. The world was now spinning in several directions at the same time.
“Anyway, I felt bad for Joe and did not want him to hurt his hands anymore and decided to call it a day. In retrospect, It was a wonderful afternoon meeting the legendary Joe Frazier and getting six stitches but it was also a brilliant realization that I needed someone like Mr. T in my life,” he added.
Frazier had appeared in the original Rocky movie as a special guest before the main event between Balboa and Creed at the Philadelphia Spectrum.