Chuck Wepner

"The Bayonne Bleeder"

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Real name

Charles Wepner


The Bayonne Brawler a.k.a The Bayonne Bleeder

Rated at



US American

Birth date

February 26, 1939 (1939-02-26) (age 69)

Birth place

New York City, New York, U.S.



Boxing record
Total fights




Wins by KO






Chuck Wepner (born February 26, 1939) is a former heavyweight boxer from Bayonne, New Jersey.[1][2] As an obscure boxer who went 15 rounds with world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in a 1975 fight, Wepner has often been credited as the inspiration for Rocky Balboa.

Early career

Wepner, nicknamed "The Bayonne Bleeder," debuted as a professional boxer in 1964 and began posting many wins and some losses. He had formerly boxed while a member of the United States Marine Corps, and had worked as a security guard before turning pro.[3] [4] He was the New Jersey State Heavyweight Boxing Champion and popular fighter in the Northeast's Club Boxing circuit. But after losing fights to George Foreman (by knockout in three) and Sonny Liston (by knockout in ten) many boxing fans thought that his days as a contender were numbered. After the fight with Liston, Wepner needed over 120 sutures in his face. He also lost a fight to Jose King Roman by a decision in Puerto Rico.

However, after losing to Joe Bugner by a knockout in three in England, Wepner won nine of his next eleven fights, including victories over Charlie Polite and former WBA Heavyweight champion Ernie Terrell.

Muhammad Ali fight

Then, in 1975, it was announced Wepner would challenge Muhammad Ali for the world's Heavyweight title. According to Time magazine ("In Stitches"), Ali was guaranteed $1.5 million and Wepner signed for $100,000.[citation needed] This was considerably more than Wepner had ever earned and therefore did not need any coaxing. Wepner spent eight weeks near the Catskill Mountains under the guidance of Al Braverman (manager) and Bill Prezant (trainer and noted cutman). Prezant prophesied that the fight would be a big surprise. This bout was the first time he had been able to train full time.[5] The fight was held on March 24 at the Richfield Coliseum, near Cleveland. Before the fight, a reporter asked Wepner if he thought he could survive in the ring with the champion, to which Wepner allegedly answered

I've been a survivor my whole life...if I survived the Marines, I can survive Ali.

The bout was promoted again by Don King who promised Ali the astonishing sum of $1.5 million. King was now firmly associated with Ali and a player on the heavyweight scene.

In the ninth round, Wepner landed a punch to Ali's chest and Ali was knocked down. Wepner went to his corner and said to his manager, "Hey, I knocked him down." "Yeah," Wepner's manager replied, "but he looks really pissed off now..."

In the remaining rounds, Ali opened up cuts above both Wepner's eyes and broke his nose. However, the far-behind-in-points Wepner made a dramatic comeback but lost in the final minutes.

Young actor Sylvester Stallone watched the fight at home on television and was inspired to write the script for Rocky, based on Wepner's gutsy challenge. Wepner would later sue Stallone three times (twice unsuccessfully) for a share of the profits. Stallone settled for an undisclosed amount in the third suit, having publicly stated that Wepner was his inspiration for the script. In 1976, Wepner fought professional wrestler Andre The Giant, similarly to how Rocky fought Thunderlips in Rocky III.

 The "Real" Rocky

Wepner served as the inspiration for the character of Rocky Balboa in the film Rocky.[6] In 2003, Wepner filed a lawsuit against Sylvester Stallone for money supposedly owed to him for the Rocky movies. He has claimed that Stallone has used Wepner's name numerous times without permission when he talks about the inspiration for Rocky Balboa. Two of his other claims were dismissed by U.S. District Court judges, and Sylvester Stallone settled the latest claim out of court for an undisclosed amount. In a published interview by Jim Clash of Forbes, Wepner got a question about his thoughts on Stallone. Wepner said he thought Stallone was a great actor and writer, and that he still considers Stallone a friend.

Career totals

Wepner had a record of 35 wins (17 of which were knockouts), 14 losses, and 2 draws.