From Box Office to Boxing Ring

Upon learning that actor Sylvester Stallone had been inducted into the boxing hall of fame, I had to laugh. Doesn’t the sporting world understand that “Rocky Balboa,” is simply a character in a series of films?

Yes, I’ve heard all the rhetoric that Stallone has done much for the sport of boxing, but that’s like saying Stallone has done much for the Vietnam vet because he portrayed “John Rambo,” in “First Blood.” I hope that doesn’t mean he’ll get his name carved into the Vietnam Memorial Wall when he dies.

Stallone is a nice guy, the one time I met him.  He was filming an arm-wrestling movie called, “Over the Top,” at the Sparks Nugget, while I was working in the casino as a keno writer.

In “Over the Top,” Stallone portrays Lincoln Hawk, a widowed trucker trying to make amends with his son. As I recall, the son doesn’t think too much of him until he enters a wrestling competition in Las Vegas.

Yeah, Vegas — it’s not the first time Reno has doubled for Sin City, nor has it been the last. I must admit though, Stallone is shorter than I had expected, but I think that’s because of his on-screen persona and my own lack of height.

Now that the door has been opened to include actors in the boxing hall of fame, I’d like to nominate some of my own. The first would have to be Robert DeNiro as Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull,” a film about an emotionally self-destructive boxer, whose temper takes him to the top in the ring, but destroys his life outside it.

Another film worthy of nomination would be, “The Hurricane.” This movie stars Denzel Washington portraying fighter Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who was wrongfully convicted of murder and imprisoned for several years until he was cleared of the crime.

Then there is the performance of Will Smith as Muhammad Ali in the film, “Ali.” So far Smith is the only actor who has been able to capture the essence of arguably the greatest boxer in the late 20th century.

Lastly, I toss the movie, “Million Dollar Baby,” into the ring. Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank should both get a nomination nod for his portrayal of hardened trainer working a determined woman in her attempt to establish herself as a boxer, even though the movies ending is a bit hard to believe.

Maybe the whole idea should be TKO’d.

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