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5 Times Rocky Balboa Inspired The Hell Out of You Self Discovery

Yo, Adrian. 

The Rocky series is the franchise that keeps on giving (well, except maybe for the very regrettable Rocky V). The latest addition to the franchise, Creed, more than does it justice, with Rocky passing on the torch to his young, hungry protege Adonis Creed, the illegitimate son of his nemesis-turned-friend Apollo Creed. While the formula of an underdog boxer triumphing over the odds seems a well-worn one, there are so many reasons why audiences never seem to tire of it. These are the moments that made you fall in love with Rocky, over and over again.

1. When he showed kindness to the undeserving Paulie

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The cantankerous Paulie is Rocky’s friend turned brother-in-law. Frequently drunk and angry, he believes the world owes him a living, and he’d always been jealous of Rocky’s success, making no attempt to hide it. For most people, having your friend coming at you attempting to hit you with a baseball bat might be somewhat of a dealbreaker, but Rocky rose above it, even helping Paulie by putting an advertisement for the meatpacking factory Paulie was working at on his boxing robe for his fight. Later on, in Rocky V, Paulie gets Rocky and his wife Adrian to hand their accountant power of attorney and as a result, the family loses all their money and assets in a housing deal that went sour. For some reason, despite this, Rocky remains Paulie’s steadfast friend.

2. When he reminded us that kindness is its own reward

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In the first Rocky, he tugs Marie, a young teenage girl he knows from his neighbourhood, away from a bunch of up-to-no-good teenagers, berating her for smoking and hanging out with the wrong crowd. In Rocky Balboa, he reunites with Marie when he visits the dive bar she’s working at, offering her a job at his restaurant and volunteering to take her son Steps under his wing, making sure he stays out of trouble. She initially rejects his offer of a job, telling him that he owes them nothing. Rocky’s response? “Why do you gotta owe something to get something?”

3. His undying love and loyalty to his wife Adrian was all sorts of #relationshipgoals

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At its heart, the Rocky franchise is a love story. In the first movie, he gets the timid and bullied Adrian to come out of her shell, and after the big fight scene at the end, he can’t do anything but shout her name over and over again. That’s not to say she’s the stereotypical wife who’s merely part of the supporting cast in the champ’s life. She comes into her own in the later movies as well, proving to be one unfaltering and stable presence in Rocky’s life as he deals with the highs and lows of fame. In the third movie, Rocky is plagued by a moment of intense self-doubt, thinking he’s not as worthy as people around him had him believe. Adrian confronts him saying, “There’s nothing wrong with being afraid. You’re human, aren’t you? You’re going to to want to have to do it for the right reasons. Not for the title, not for the people, not for the money, but for you. Just you alone. If you lose, at least you lose with no excuses.”

In Rocky Balboa, we find out that Adrian has died from cancer, and Rocky never quite gets over her death. Not only does he open a restaurant named after her, he also frequently spends hours by her grave, telling her what’s been going on in his life.

4. When he delivered one of the most hard-hitting truth bombs in recent cinematic history

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Rocky’s son Robert is all grown up in Rocky Balboa, trying to carve out a career for himself. Robert, however, can’t quite escape Rocky’s looming legacy. He’s frequently called “Baby Rocky” by his colleagues, and his resentment towards his father reaches its peak when he finds out that Rocky has decided to fight Mason Dixon for the light heavyweight title.

In response, Rocky tells him: “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it … But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

Lesson learnt: Don’t make excuses for why you haven’t made it. You are in charge of your destiny and the main agent that determines how successful you’ll become.

5. When he epitomised the phrase, “It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game that counts”

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Rocky isn’t the most brilliant or tactical fighter. In fact, we see him lose a lot. He lost by split decision to Apollo Creed in the first movie, and won by a hair’s breadth in the second. He again lost by a split decision to Mason Dixon in Rocky Balboa. But what Rocky lacks in tactical skill, he more than makes up for with heart and a never-say-die attitude. As he tells his Adrian in the first movie before the big fight, “It really don’t matter if I lose this fight. It really don’t matter if this guy opens my head, either. ‘Cause all I wanna do is go the distance. Nobody’s ever gone the distance with Creed, and if I can go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and I’m still standin’, I’m gonna know for the first time in my life, see, that I weren’t just another bum from the neighbourhood.”

Lesson learnt: There’s no shame in losing if you’ve given it your all.


She may have been born and bred in Singapore, but Denise considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and needs to make a yearly pilgrimage there to maintain her sanity. Competitive by nature, she enjoys combat sports and is currently obsessed with Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which she picked up just under a year ago. To no one’s surprise, the country currently at the top of her travel bucket list is Brazil.

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