The people of Philadelphia are no strangers to boxing. It is more than just a sport out here; it is a way of life. Naturally everyone knows the story of Rocky and his underdog tale of courage and perseverance. The City finds it inspiring as well as the reason behind the many tourist who appear daily on the steps to the Art Museum. They need to prove to themselves, as Rocky did many years ago, that they too can go the distance. It is a beautiful story but it hits much closer to home than many people realize.
In 1975 another beloved, local underdog shed his inhibitions, gloved up and boldly stepped into the ring prepared to fight Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali.
This man was Chuck Wepner, the real life Rocky, who Sylvester Stallone has admitted inspired the screenplay for Philly’s most love film. Though Wepner is not a native Philadelphian, he hails from Bayonne, New Jersey, he had the determination to last 15 Rounds in the ring with Ali, a feat worthy of praise from any city. Stallone watched the fight in his living room and knew immediately that this story had to be told.
This year at the 20thAnnual Philadelphia Film Festival Chuck Wepner’s story will be told for the first time in the documentary The Real Rocky. Wepner and his credibility extend far beyond the ring and Muhammad Ali. In the new film his story is told from beginning to end and is even better than the Hollywood film for which his life was the inspiration. The 20th Annual Philadelphia Film Festival is proud to announce that at the screening of The Real Rocky on Friday, October 21 at the Ritz East, the audience will be in the company of not only the director Jeff Feuerzeig and Producer Mike Tollin but also professional boxer Larry Holmes and Chuck Wepner himself.
As amazing as that sounds, it is not the only surprise that the 20th Annual Film Festival has to offer.
Bringing the legend alive in his own special way is a Philadelphia local who also stepped into the ring with Muhammad Ali, and stepped out with a shiny new Heavyweight Champion belt around his waist. The story of Joe Frazier is one of struggle, he was the youngest of thirteen children, perseverance and ultimately a story of triumph. He has made a name for himself in the ring but is perhaps better loved for his work outside the ring and in the Philadelphia Community.
Frazier will be joining the Film Festival along with the director, Mike Todd, of the new documentary Joe Frazier: When the Smoke Clears on Saturday October 22nd at the Prince Music Theater. Both men offer inspiring stories and they capture the heart of Philadelphia in them. Everyone will be able to get something out of each screening and the life changing opportunity of hearing the story straight from the horse’s mouth.
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