Sylvester Stallone On Taking Monster Punches

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Sly talks to MF about Grudge Match, which sees him going toe-to-toe with Robert DeNiro in a clash of veteran Hollywood heavyweights

You’re obviously a huge boxing fan. What’s the appeal?

I love the metaphors about boxing. There’s a real classicism where it breaks down to a man’s athletic ability coupled with his courage. The two don’t always go hand-in-hand. I’m always watching the character of a fighter more than the punches. You see what a person is made of under duress.

Who have you been most privileged to share a ring with?

Believe it or not I’ve actually sparred with Roberto Durán, Ken Norton and Earnie Shavers. Shavers promised not to hit me in the head, but even hitting me in the shoulder, he managed to knock me across the ring. I have tremendous respect for fighters and I always tell people that boxing in movies is one thing but when you get into the ring for real, even the worst heavyweight in the world is going to murder you. You’ve just got to appreciate the pain and the suffering and the glory and skill that goes into what they do. That’s why I love the sport so much.

What’s your all-time favourite grudge match?

I think every weight division has them, but for me it has to be Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier. I knew both of them really well – at one point I was actually going to use Frazier in one of the Rocky films.

Jake LaMotta versus Rocky Balboa. Who do you think would win?

Rocky, but only because I’d be writing the script! No, Rocky would have a really tough time with the real-life Jake LaMotta. People always say that it would be interesting because one’s a heavyweight and one’s a middleweight, but my money’s on Jake.

You a look leaner in Grudge Match than you have in recent films. Was that deliberate?

Bobby [DeNiro] is lighter than I am, so I actually had to come down to around 168lb [76kg] so that we’d look like we were in the same weight class. I’ve not been there since 1981. For me that’s really thin. I mean thin.

Coach Staff

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