VS (Not Actual Size)
Sylvester ''Rocky'' Stallone---------------------- ''Smokin' Joe'' Frazier
Although I am not now, nor will I ever be a fan of pro wrestling, I usually find the people involved are nice and charismatic in real life. The WWE website has an often amusing segment that they do called Superstar to Superstar where they have a wrestling superstar interview a celebrity superstar of whatever other kind. These interviews include Mr. Kennedy interviewing Psych's James Roday and John Cena with Snoop doggy dog. Reading about my favorite sport-boxing, I stumbled across an amusing anecdote that other boxing fans will likely enjoy. Professional wrestler Montel Vontavious Porter, aka MVP, interviewed Sylvester Stallone in this edition as Stallone made the rounds promoting the fourth Rambo installment. Stallone is a longtime boxing fan, hence the Rocky franchise that he personally created. Well, MVP and Stallone eventually hit on the subject of actors VS real life athletes. Stallone couldn't resist mentioning an experiment he had done and he humbled himself by stating the following:
''I learned my lesson. You think that you play the role long enough, and you assume, “Oh, I can compete with a professional.” Well, I had that scenario set up. In Rocky III I decided I was going to use a professional athlete – this is before Mr. T came along.''
Stallone thought he would try out real boxers in a light sparring session. With whom did he choose to step into the ring?
''The first fellow I brought in the ring, I brought in Joe Frazier. Joe Frazier got in the ring, and I’ll never forget, he was wearing a green suit, he just took his shirt off – he was wearing his street pants, his street shoes – put on the gloves and again, within less than 30 seconds, he came across the ring and cracked me. He gave me four stitches over one eye. I was looking at the lights, I couldn’t believe it. My fantasy was completely destroyed that you can last more than however long it takes a professional athlete to actually get to you, that’s how long you last in the ring.''
Any boxing fan would note that Joe was one of the harder punchers of his time-arguably the most competitive time in heavyweight boxing history. Good move, Sly.
Having been quickly hurt by Frazier, who was likely pulling his punches as a courtesy, Stallone then goes on to pick a lesser-known boxing icon. Better safe than sorry, right?
''The next guy who came in – and this was idiotic on my behalf – was a fellow named Ernie Shavers. Ernie Shavers was sitting in the dressing room, and I saw him taping his hands, and he has a very high voice, and he goes, “Thank you, Mr. Stallone, for this opportunity. We’ll get in there and spar a little bit.” He was very cordial, and he had this really high voice. But I watched him tape his hands with air conditioning duct tape, and I’m going, “Oh my God.” So he gets in the ring, and I’ll never forget this, he hits me on the shoulder so hard that I capsize, go against the ropes, fall down to the ground, and I started to almost laugh hysterically, like when you hit your shin against a pipe. I never felt … I said, “Was there something in your glove?” Then his manager pulls me aside, and said, “Seriously, they don’t know how to pull their punches.” I said, “But he’s not even trying hard!” He said, “Oh, we have trouble in the gym because he actually breaks guys’ jaws off the hinges, that’s how hard he hits.” So I said, “He’s out.” ''
For the life of me, I can't understand why a boxing fan would try to avoid danger by going from Frazier to Shavers. For you non-boxing fans, understand, this is hilarious. While Frazier was one of the harder punchers of his time, the albeit, less successful Shavers is known to most serious fans as being potentially the hardest puncher EVER. I laughed while I cried real tears reading this interview and I don't laugh out loud or cry very easily. Poor, poor, pitiful Sly, thought he was safer but he could have died.
Stallone, not giving up on using a real athlete, decided to go for a lighter weight fighter, which is good. What wasn't good is that it was Roberto- Freaking- ''Hand of Stone''- Duran! This guy officially knocked out 70 professional opponents. Oh, and did I happen to mention his nickname was ''HAND OF STONE''?
Stallone on sparring with old stone hands:
''And then I tried one more time, and I got in the ring with Roberto Duran. He stood in one spot, to prove a point, and every time I threw a punch, he would slip and bang me, and bang me, to the body, that the next day my arms were green and purple. I looked like bad cheese.''
Interviewer, MVP, observes: ''You picked three of the hardest hitters in the history of boxing.''
Answer: They end up looking like bad cheese...
We all know who ended up in the film but let's hear it. Stallone's final decision?
Stallone on the final result of the real fighter experiment: ''So I got a pansy like Mr. T. (Laughs) He was a vacation compared to this. ''
Astonishingly, what does he do for the fifth Rocky, years later? He gets deadly puncher Tommy Morrison to play the ''bad guy''. Some people never learn.
Read the full original interview here:
Part 1: WWE: Inside WWE > Superstar to Superstar > Interviews > MVP & Sylvester Stallone: Superstar to Superstar
Part 2:WWE: Inside WWE > Superstar to Superstar > Interviews > MVP & Sylvester Stallone, part two: Superstar to Superstar