I just watched the replay of a song from “Rocky” the musical on Letterman and it set me to suss around a bit about Chuck Wepner, Sylvester Stallone, the Rocky franchise and this new musical.
More to come.
I must have seen the 2006 Times article about Wepner suing Stallone for $15 million. I remember Wepner, in that from age 8 thru 18 or 28 I was an avid Sports Illustrated reader, and remember the guy who fought Ali.
I think there is a certain amount of racism in the hagiography of Wepner, white standing up to Ali, black and Muslim.
The Bayonne Bleeder, Wepner was called. I looked it up and find that it is closer to Staten Island than Philly.
It would be interesting to do a Bayonne Story or Chuck Wepner the Musical and musical influences could include the guitarist from Ozzy, the guy who wrote “Sweet Georgia Brown” and Clem Burke the drummer for Blondie who is also an associate of Mark Stewart, whose life story reached Broadway as “Passing Strange.” Maybe Stew could be the one to do Don’t Weep For Me, the Wepner Musical. I also had a riff on Eugene Robinson and I creating a truer (i.e. more black) version of what became “The Set-Up”, a good Robert Wise boxing film — and a source methinks for Tarantino “Pulp Fiction” — although they make the fall guy Pansy Jones white not black.
The song I saw on Letterman was a little too Christian rock, with the “you” referring either to Adrian or Jesus, and him crossing himself. It kinda reminded me, it’s still standing them, of the September 11, 2001 incident, which I guess is truer to the original Wepner story or myth in that it is New York not Philly.
What inspired Sly is that Wepner hung in there, bleeding. Others were psyched that Wepner knocked down Ali, with a body blow although there is photo evidence that he stepped on the champ’s foot.