He's an American legend. Philadelphia even has a statue of him in its sports complex. And yet, for all intents and purposes, he doesn't even exist.
Sylvester Stallone made a name for himself in the film Rocky as Rocky Balboa, an underdog boxer from South Philly who refuses to quit, and eventually takes on Apollo Creed in the heavyweight championship.
The story is symbolic of the American ideal of perseverance and fortitude, and was especially relevant in 1976 (when the movie was released), as the U.S. had just ended its fight in Vietnam and the country was in an odd transition phase.
Rocky, the character, became an icon. Not just for boxing, but for the entire world. He's fictional, though. When you think Rocky, you think Stallone.
Perhaps that's why Stallone, a longtime actor who's been in 50 different films other than the Rocky series (there were five sequels), was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
Stallone has never been an officially sanctioned fighter, but he, or his persona, at least, has arguably had a bigger impact on the sport than any other person over the last 40 years. He was even given the "Lifetime Cinematic Achievement in Boxing" award by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
There has been criticism of the Hall of Fame's decision to allow Stallone to be enshrined. The Sacramento Bee's Victor Contreras thought the idea of his induction was laughable, and compared it to Mike Tyson winning an Academy Award (for his role in The Hangover, one would presume).
But obviously, Stallone is respected among the boxing community. And it's not like there isn't precedence for this sort of thing.
In the Baseball Hall of Fame, there is an entire wing dedicated to entertainers. Abbott and Costello will forever be enshrined in Cooperstown for "Who's on First."
No one is arguing that Stallone is a Hall of Fame boxer, nor is anyone making the same case for Rocky Balboa. But Rocky's impact on the sport cannot be understated, and it, along with Stallone, deserves to be recognized as pivotal members of the Boxing Hall of Fame.
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