I remember that day like it was yesterday, it really didn’t mean much for us at the time other than a day away from school and Mr Bradley’s English class.
My high school English class gathered at the Elgin theatre with another three classes as a movie day for a movie report rather than a book report.
The movie was Rocky.
It had been out for three months when we got to see it and had heard much about it but most of us had yet to go see it.
I went to a trade school and most of the guys there grew up on the streets and were a rough and tumble bunch.
Most were in some kind of racket by the time they were fourteen and a most if not all were veterans of many fights so when the main character, Rocky Balboa turned out to be a small time hood, the movie had our attention.
After all he was one of our own from the streets with nothing compared to what others had but we had dreams of having what others did and the opportunity of getting away from the life we now lived
Most of us at the movie came from lower income families or immigrants who didn’t have much to spare so we, the kids had to do what we could for money if we wanted more than the food and clothes our parents gave us.
School was a place we went to learn how to read and write but the streets was the school we went too to learn how to live and survive in that wilderness.
For some the street was their family because the parents were not there for them and many a friend ate dinner at my place.
Some of us never liked what we did but it was a job with perks and dangers but a job just the same.
Rocky was a collector for a Mafia bookie in the movie who did collections but hated hurting people to get the money.
He would have rather been in the ring boxing.
This to was something that brought him closer to us because most of us had trained with the school boxing and wrestling teams for something to do and let off steam but when it came to real fighting we were all street fighters first and foremost.
You stand your ground to the bitter end no matter if you are winning or loosing because giving up meant dieing sometimes.
As that first Rocky movie introduced us slowly to whom Rocky was he began looking like someone we knew that many of us related to.
Rocky showed us the human side of what is and always will be, the ugly side of life but he also brought light to it by showing us that even though this is how some people live, they are still people with dreams of a better way of life without the bullshit.
He showed us compassion when none was deserved with a gentleness that could only exist deep in ones soul.
He showed us what real unconditional love is through eyes void of bigotry and malice.
A man drowning in violence and disrespect reaching for his faith in god and man if it helped or not yet still believing it was the purest way for him to live.
He valued family above all and his word was his bond.
He was a blue-collar worker, the backbone of the world.
Without the blue-collar worker where would the world be?
It was the brawn and sweat that came from these people that built the world from nothing to it modern existance.The grunts of the world were the builders of pyramids that will last for thousands of years.
It was the smart educated ones that fucked it up.
Rocky saw beauty where it was hidden when he met Adrian, he saw past the cocoon hiding her beauty where no one else bothered to look.
She saw a man pure of heart, honest in a world of lies and deception who would help anyone who only needed to be ask for his help.
The hands that dispensed so much violence were the gentlest of hands when he reached out to touch her.
All Rocky wanted was to reach his dream of being a world champion but wasn’t good enough to achieve it and as the movie progressed a new dream developed and that was to be with Adrian, the women he loved.
All he needed was a chance, the opportunity, a shot at the title, at life and all they possessed.
He wanted the money that came with it so he could leave the life he lived now and to create the life he dreamed of to live in with his family.
By pure luck Rocky gets his shot at the title and at the woman he loves.
People laughed at him, mocked him said he was outclassed and that he couldn’t do it.
Those close to him didn’t believe in him and said so to his face but there was one that believed he could and that was the only person that mattered.
He believed in himself even when others didn’t.
The woman loved the man and only wished him to be happy but worried about him getting hurt.
He rose above the naysayers and we cheered him on.
First he won the people around him over to his side, and then he sent the world the message that he was real and wasn’t going to lay down but FIGHT for his dreams.
When he stepped through the ropes he was all that he could be and more.
He worked hard to get his body and mind prepared for the up coming battle, his heart was always there.
He was the man he always was, the man he wanted to be.
For the first time in his life he was complete, with one goal left and that was to show he was proud to be who he was, win or loose he was a champion.
When the bell went and they met in the center of the ring Rocky’s opponent wasn’t Apollo Creed (Rocky I&II), Clubber Lang (Rocky III)
, Ivan Drago (Rocky IV) ,Tommy Gun (Rocky V) or now Mason Dixon (Rocky Balboa)It was life that he was facing.
From the very beginning he was fighting for his way of life, the way he wanted to live not how others wanted him to live.
He did it his way and it was the best way for him.
When he was beaten to the ground, with nothing left to prove, where laying there would have been the safest thing to do, he chose not to but he found the little more needed to get up and get beaten down once more only to rise to face his opponent yet again to be sent back down to the ground until he said NO! he was not getting knocked down no more and the crowd in the theatre ROARED its approval and stood on its feet.
When Rocky stood his ground and fought back like the lion he was, our clenched fists RAISED TO THE SKY as if to send him our strength to fight harder, to beat back what is trying to keep us down.
When the last seconds of the final round ticked down to the end the match, the crowd on the screen chanted
ROCKY ROCKY ROCKY!!!!!!!!
but the audience in the theatre was drowning it out as they ALL stood arms raised chanting at the top of their lungs
ROCKY ROCKY ROCKY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Battered, beaten, body demolished with the crowd in delirium screaming his name all over the world, his thoughts were of one thing, a person, the most important part of his life, more than even winning and that was the one he loved, not the glory the fight might bring him because the only victory he sought was deep in Adrien's eyes.
As the years went by and other Rocky sequels came out they lacked what the first one had as a movie but they showed us what life was about as Rocky became a husband and father while trying to be a boxer at the same time.
We saw the struggles his family went through as he prepared to go into the ring time after time to be beaten up by someone.
We saw what happens when someone not used to money gets too much of it and doesn’t understand how to use it and in many cases gets taken advantage of because of it.
We saw how those we beat try to exploit us for their own interests, at our expense.
In Rocky III we felt the pain he felt when his long time friend, trainer and father figure passed away, we know that feeling as we have all lost those that mean so much to us.
In Rocky IV we saw the patriotic side of Rocky Balboa but in doing so, we learned that those we call our enemy are just like us and not that much different, as we have always been told to believe.
Rocky V gave us betrayal in the form of Tommy Gun and Rocky’s determination to show him what was right an honourable only to have to destroy what he had created in Tommy Gun for the good of Tommy and his own family.
Evil has many faces and fame is one of them.
We saw all his struggles, in the ring and out with Rocky trying to understand what people wanted of him and what his son who was growing up fast and getting farther away from him wanted him to do, to bring him closer.
Throughout the movie, Rocky’s best friend and brother in law, Paulie was Rocky’s alter ego, the cynic who always doubted Rocky but was first to exploit him, with Rocky’s blessing.
Even when Paulie lost all of Rocky’s money Rocky loved him and tried to help Paulie when he needed help.
Rocky Balboa is the final instalment in this saga of a man’s journey through life.
It is the culmination of decades of love, pain, failures and triumphs.
This is not a movie about boxing, non of them were, boxing is just the theme, its a chronicle of where our paths in life lead us and what we have to endure to reach our goals.
Rocky Balboa starts with Rocky alone at the cemetery talking to his beloved wife who he loves as much today as he did when we met her in the original movie.
He holds the memories of his past close to his heart because that’s where many of those he loves are now.
After 30 years, life has brought Rocky in a full circle right back to the beginning, alone again, a has been, a relic to be used only as an exhibit in the zoo we live in for others to point at and make fun of.
To stand in front of like an exibit, for pictures, mementos, like standing next to the lion’s cage, safe looking like great warriors but without the agnst that went with the journey to become a champion, but Rocky seeming oblivious to their mockery, he knew better, he knew what they were like and didn’t care.
It wasn’t in his soul to be bitter about it because he knows it makes them happy.
With everything now gone from his life Rocky reaches for the one thing that he always had and trusted, that was boxing.
He was going to box again for the fun of it, the one true love he has had for as far back as he could remember.
After all he was a fighter, born to be one and he did it well.
Again those who doubted them came out to mock him and tell him he was crazy to want to step into the ring at his age, but was he the fool or were they afraid that he would succeed and make them look the fools.
He was no fool, he knew he wasn’t the same man he was in his twenties but he was still the same person inside, the fighter and that’s what he wanted to bring back to life.
But the Jackals came to take away what he had left, to finally break him once and for all for that evil, many crave so much, fame.
At the end of the movie the crowd was standing chanting
ROCKY ROCKY ROCKY!!!!!!!!
I stood in front of my TV doing the same, how can you not shout for a person who goes out and gives all that he has to give and more until there is nothing left to give and then stands there naked infront of the world to see, not judge because he never judge people, just respected who they were.
He stood there for everyone to see heart and Rocky Balboa was all heart.
Who is Rocky?
He was the underdog, the one never expected to get far because of where he came from and how he lived.
He dared to dream and reach for them in a world where dreams are many and those that reach them are few.
Who is Rocky?
I am Rocky for all the beatings life has given me that I had crawl back from.
You are Rocky for not letting life beat you to the ground and hold you there.
We are Rocky because we want to live free to be who we want to be, to dare to dream.
We fight all that life throws at us from terror to disease and still push off the ground and stand and proudly declare is that “ALL YOU HAVE”?
Well it’s not enough because as Rocky said:
“IT AIN’T OVER T'IL IT’S OVER” and I have just begun to live so bring it on.
At 48 years of age today, I still get beaten physically and emotionally but when I am battered and bruised I hear a voice in the back of my head say, "What are you doing down there"?
"You still have one more round, now GET UP", and I crawl to my feet because I know I have one more round in me and always will.
We all do.
Rocky Balboa took us back to the original Rocky and put the final period on a great series of movies.
I want to thank Sly for showing that we can all have what we want if we are willing to fight for it and make our dreams come true.
Thank you for giving us hope to be more than we are, you will always be the Champ.
I'm off to party with 200 women, I’ll be back in a couple of days after I sober up.
Dare To Dream