Chuck Wepner, the inspiration of the “Rocky” films and the focal point of Oct. 25 ESPN Films documentary “The Real Rocky” (one of eight new docs the cabler is premiering this fall) provided the early highlights on the opening day of the Television Critics Assn. press tour.
Just a couple of moments:
Wepner was asked if he ever fought any Russians, akin to the Soviet boxer Ivan Drago that Rocky Balboa took on in “Rocky IV.” Wepner’s reply: “I did fight a couple of Russians, as a fighter and a bouncer.”
Wepner also recalled his confidence for his big heavyweight title bout against Muhammad Ali, the direct model for the plot of Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky.” Wepner bought some negligees for his wife and told her, “Tonight, you’re gonna be sleeping with the heavyweight champion of the world.”
After his 15th-round loss to Ali, the Bayonne Bleeder returned to his hotel room. “When I came back," he recalled, "she was in one of the negligees and said, ‘Am I going to Ali’s room?’ ”