Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Boxing Hall of Fame's Most Interesting Induction - And It's Not Iron Mike

The Boxing Hall of Fame has really outdone itself this time.  In a year that features Mike Tyson as one of the inductees, the Hall of Fame may have actually shot itself in the foot with its most controversial inductee.  Similar to putting Paul Newman into the Hockey Hall of Fame for starring in Slapshot or Oliver Stone for directing Any Given Sunday, The International Boxing Hall of Fame has chosen Philadelphia's own Rocky Balboa to its 2011 class being inducted in June 2011. 

Well you say its not really Rocky Balboa, but actually Sylvester Stallone, who has become even more of a cartoon character than the one he's played in six movies since 1976.  He even parodied himself AND his character by coming out of retirement in 2006 after an upstart title holder made fun of him in a video game recreation.  While mostly critically acclaimed, it was clear that Rocky Balboa was just a much needed payday for Stallone - I guess he has a lot more in common with fading boxing superstars than I thought.  Interestingly, the justification for his induction was the great contribution he made to the sport of Boxing with his Rocky series.  Did the Hall of Fame committee forget to watch Rocky V while making their decision?

Maybe Stallone is being inducted instead for being one of the executive producers of The Contender?  Just kidding, that show did nothing to contribute to the sport of Boxing.  But I guess I can't blame the International Boxing Hall of Fame on this one.  Boxing has lost significant market share to the UFC and MMA over the last couple of years as the octagon has become more mainstream.  The Boxing Hall of Fame must also be hurting as a result.  Located about 30 miles east of Syracuse, the IBHOF's board must have thought that the combination of a little bit of Hollywood and little bit of controversy would only bring people into the turnstiles.  In fact, I might even go to Canistota, New York during the induction ceremony in 2011 because you know Hall of Fame visits are a staple for JMR.

My oldest son was listening to me talk about how ludicrous the whole Rambo idea was when we started talking about Rocky IV, one of his favorite movies (believe it or not).  I'm sure that he realizes that Stallone's not really boxing in Rocky IV. (In fact a couple of the punches in the movie were so bad that I cringe now just thinking about it.  I'm convinced that I could throw a better punch than Dolph Lundgren.) 

After explaining what Rocky was being honored for, I asked him what HE thinks about Rocky being enshrined:

"Well he beat up a Russian guy because that guy killed his best friend."  All right, I like the sound of where this his headed.  I ask him to continue.

"I remember that they fought in Russia and that the Russian guy was really tall and Rocky was really small.  And the Russian guy could lift a bunch of weights in a gym while Rocky had to pull horses and run up mountains to train."  Meanwhile, in real life, Stallone was probably shooting himself full of steroids to get jacked up for the role.

Listening to an 8 year old talking about it, Rocky IV was really a ridiculous movie, but still a lot of fun.  But C isn't done.

"I remember that everyone hated Rocky in the stands, because the Russian guy could lift 300 pounds.  But then they started liking him once he began to beat the Russian up."  Real front runners those vodka-sipping commies! 

Seriously, the original Rocky was a classic sports movie, with a plot that was retread four times by Stallone and his production company.  Rocky Balboa, the last installment of the franchise, was grittier and more enjoyable, but that was barely a sports movie.  It really had nothing to do with Boxing.  Inevitable questions are now going to be made about other boxing characters - Raging Bull, Ali and Million Dollar Baby come to mind.  And imagine Kevin Costner being inducted into both the Golf Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

The funny thing?  We're talking about this (and I'm writing this) while watching the UFC 124 Countdown on Comcast Sports.  I guest the International Boxing Hall of Fame has a long way to go to regain my interest.

Photographs courtesy of imdb.com

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