Apollo Creed – The Master of Disaster

This is Rummy’s Corner. During the long rich history of film and television, when it comes to fictional boxing related content, The Rocky Franchise undoubtedly represents the gold standard, and not without damn good reason. The Rocky movies produced an engaging saga that followed the life and boxing career of The Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa. The stories were dramatic and entertaining, the characters were interesting, likable and believable, and the strong direction and impeccable cast produced stellar classic performances that made the movies both magical and memorable. One of the most important key players who helped make the Rocky Franchise

such a magical and memorable viewing experience was the late great Carl Weathers, for his portrayal of one of the coolest and most iconic characters within the Rocky Universe: The Dancing Destroyer The King of Sting The Count of Monte Fisto The Master of Disaster The one and only, Apollo Creed! Apollo! Apollo! Apollo! Apollo! Apollo! Apollo! Apollo! Apollo! At the beginning of the original Rocky, Apollo Creed was the undisputed world heavyweight champion, and he was a dominant champion who was undefeated in 46 professional fights. In addition to being a powerhouse force inside the squared circle, Creed was

also a popular charismatic showman. We learn a lot of important details about Creed during his initial conflict in the original film. Creed was scheduled to have a Bicentennial championship showdown against

Mac Lee Green, but he suffered a hand injury 5 weeks out from the fight, putting the entire event in jeopardy. Creed demands a ranked contender as a replacement, exhibiting his pride and his championship heart – and these are two key traits that will forever define his character throughout his entire story in the Rocky Universe. Apollo cares a lot about his image, he has a great

deal of pride, and when he learns of the difficulty in finding a ranked contender on short notice, it reveals that he is extremely confident in his ability, but more importantly his intelligence and innovation emerge on full display. Apollo understands that the only way to save the show is to find a novelty – an unknown local challenger getting the chance of a lifetime in the land of opportunity. Of course Apollo ultimately found exactly what he was looking for – The Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa. Creed represented a perfect counterpart to Balboa. Rocky was an underachiever who lacked

self-belief, a man who never fulfilled his potential, be it professionally or with his personal life. Rocky respects Creed for taking his shot and earning the respect and adoration that came with his success – a shot that Rocky himself never took, in large part because he didn’t believe in himself. By contrast, Creed was the personification of exceeding one’s potential driven by his pride and unwavering will. Tony didn’t want Apollo messing with no southpaw, but Creed does not feel threatened by the unknown club fighter. A perfect storm scenario unfolded, where for the first time in his life,

Rocky had found a purpose and began believing in himself. He found Adrian. All of a sudden Rocky’s hibernating heart thawed into play, not just in terms of his romantic courtship, but also in terms of taking pride in himself, not just wanting to be another bum from the neighborhood. Rocky tapped into that reservoir of unfulfilled potential where he became driven like never before, training with intensity and raw determination. Duke saw his hunger and drive and realized they did not have some hopeless pushover before them. Meanwhile, Creed lost focus, spending so much time on publicity for the

showcase promotion that, unlike Duke, he didn’t even perceive the possibility that he might actually have a real fight before him. Creed had become civilized, and because of that he had lost that Eye of the Tiger. You ought to come look at this boy you’re gonna fight on TV, looks like he means business. Yeah, yeah. I mean business, too. Shirley, you got any more coffee out there? Creed’s sense of patriotism came into play during his ring entrance, where the dressed up champion was throwing money at the cheering crowd, and he even had some friendly banter with

legendary boxer, Smokin’ Joe Frazier. The crowd loved it! Everyone expected the fight would be a complete and total mismatch, especially Apollo. When the action got underway, Creed mistakenly believed he was toying with the inferior club fighter as he began to establish the jab. But before long, Balboa landed a clubbing left that sent Creed down. It was the first time Creed had ever been dropped during his professional career. Creed beat the count and suddenly realized he was in a real fight. Creed bounced back well and finished the round strong. The bout quickly evolved into a tactical

war, where by and large, Creed was throwing more and landing more, but Rocky appeared to be landing bigger and better when he landed. Creed was looking to control the action behind a snappy jab where he could box at range, and Rocky was looking to close the gap and attack the body whenever he could. There was a lot of back and forth action in this war of attrition, where both boxers exhibited tremendous heart, courage, and determination. Late in the fight both boxers were visibly tired, and in round 14 the champion bombarded and dropped an exhausted Balboa.

The fight appeared to be over, but amazingly Rocky beat the count. Rocky was emboldened by the knock down and he finished the round strong. Balboa continued his momentum into the 15th and final round, where he had Creed badly hurt, reeling and ready to go before time expired. At the end of 15 rounds Creed was awarded a controversial split decision. Rocky lost the fight, but he succeeded in his goal of being the first to last the full 15 round championship distance against Creed. Immediately after the bout, Creed informed Balboa there would be no rematch, but it

didn’t take long before he changed his mind. Indeed, as the two were being admitted to the hospital, Creed got all fired up! His competitive spirit re-emerged, then and there in front of a slew of media, and he was ready to jump out of his wheelchair and go after Balboa in HIS wheelchair! It was absolutely bonkers. Creed proceeds to challenge Balboa to a rematch – anywhere, anytime. They later shared this pivotal moment where Apollo admitted to a curious Balboa that he did indeed give him his best. Even though Creed retained his championship, and even though Balboa

had retired and settled into a new married life, Apollo could not accept the fact that he had a perceived blemish on his record, and adding insult to injury, it was against a lowly club fighter no less. Creed wanted to prove himself after failing for the first time in his professional career. At least in HIS mind. He NEEDED to prove himself. Even his own wife and kids were taking a backseat to his need for redemption. Creed may have won the fight, but he did not win the event, and he did not live up to his own

expectations of himself. Creed was so hell bent on getting the rematch that he was prepared to abandon all of his goodwill with fans who loved and adored him. Apollo was prepared to be the bad guy and to do whatever it took to get that rematch. Creed wanted to prove to everyone that their first fight was a fluke, and most importantly he wanted to prove it to himself. Creed may have lacked the Eye of the Tiger going into their first bout, but his Eye of the Tiger was BACK with vengeance. Meanwhile, Rocky is having all sorts

of financial trouble in his new married life. Rocky wants to fight again, but a pregnant Adrian forbids it! Even Mickey is against the idea of Rocky fighting again. Creed’s anti-Balboa campaign ultimately worked, however. Creed’s attacks against Rocky’s pride eventually pissed off Mickey, and once Mickey was onboard, Creed got exactly what he wanted – a chance at redemption. Adrian be damned! Once the stage was set, there was a reversal of roles. Rocky was the one having a poor training camp, distracted by the fact his wife disapproved of his decision to have the rematch. On the other

hand, Apollo was highly motivated and completely consumed by his training and preparation, giving it everything he had, and making sure he was optimally prepared, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Rocky eventually regained his fire after Adrian told him to win after coming out of her coma, and Rocky was determined and back in form. This time the local Philly crowd was even more pro-Rocky than last, because Apollo had set himself up as the bad guy both before and during the lead up promotion. For whatever reason, Mickey was convinced having Rocky fight right-handed was a stroke of genius, something

that would confuse Creed, the plan being to eventually switch back to his natural southpaw stance that gave Creed so much trouble the first time around. That was his master plan to make boxing history. Right out of the gate Creed was schooling Balboa with a dazzling display of quickness, power and accuracy. Creed was dominating the action, and he dropped Balboa hard after a ruthless barrage. Rocky beat the count, had a nice flurry, and Creed went back to business. Creed resumed kicking Rocky’s ass in round 2, and before long Creed dropped Balboa again. But this time Rocky

was emboldened by the knockdown, and he came back with some nice firepower of his own. As the bout progressed, the difference in class became apparent. Creed was simply too skilled, too fast, and too determined. But Rocky’s own heart and courage allowed him to absorb a tremendous beating, where every now and then he would go on the attack effectively. But Creed was clearly winning the rounds, despite the fact Rocky was having some good moments along the way. Balboa finally won a round in the 9th, and he began consistently being more competitive, but he never truly capitalized

on that momentum. Apollo was still the one doing the better work, but it was evolving into another taxing and grueling encounter. Rocky had absorbed a tremendous amount of punishment, and he was hopelessly behind on the cards entering the 15th and final round. By this point Mickey is BEGGING Rocky to switch to southpaw, but he refuses. And Tony is BEGGING Apollo to stick and move, and he too refuses. Because in that moment, everything Apollo experienced since their first bout – the NEED to not just prove it to the world, but to prove it to himself! There

was no way that burning flame was going to allow a champion like Creed to coast. Apollo’s pride and championship heart would not allow it! Creed had no intention of coasting, and every intention of knocking Rocky out! This all circles back to his first real conflict when Creed demanded a ranked opponent – pride and championship heart! Both warriors put everything on the line in the 15th and final round, with the momentum swinging back and forth, and both boxers landing bludgeoning shots in great abundance. It was absolutely bonkers! Things ultimately ended in one of the most dramatic

and ridiculous ways you could ever dream up to conclude this high profile championship rematch, when THIS happens! The sheer battle of wills to beat the count ultimately swung Balboa’s way by a mere second, and for the first time in his career, Apollo Creed had lost. Rocky Balboa was crowned as the new undisputed world heavyweight champion. Apollo was gracious in defeat, exhibiting good sportsmanship. There wasn’t gonna be no trilogy. Following the fight, Apollo Creed retired from boxing with a professional record of 47-1. Apollo’s boxing career may have been over, but his story wasn’t. Over the next

3 years, Rocky went on to defend the championship 10 times, leading into his toughest bout since he first won the crown. Rocky’s opponent was the powerpunching menace known as Clubber Lang. Former champion Apollo Creed was in attendance, like Smokin’ Joe Frazier before him. But unlike the friendly banter Creed shared with Frazier, Clubber Lang didn’t want to has-been messin’ in his corner. Creed wanted Rocky to do everyone a favor and drop that chump. But that didn’t happen. Instead, Clubber Lang overwhelmed Balboa with an extraordinary display of power stopping him in round 2. A visibly disappointed Apollo

saw himself in Rocky. Just like Apollo had lost the Eye of the Tiger going into his first bout with Balboa, Rocky himself had lost his Eye of the Tiger here. As Mickey duly noted, Rocky had become civilized, and Creed recognized this. Even worse than getting crushed and losing his championship, Rocky’s beloved manager Mickey had sadly passed away. Rocky is at an all time low, and Apollo is the one who offers to help Rocky. Apollo’s motivation is twofold. On one hand, Apollo was a smart businessman and a master of promotion, so there was a financial incentive

for him to offer his help. Beyond that, Apollo related to what his former foe was going through. Apollo himself missed the limelight and admitted such to Rocky, and he had experience with regaining the Eye of the Tiger. When Creed needed to rediscover the Eye of the Tiger, he reverted to his purest form – the man who was a champion on the INSIDE – a man who was confident, a man that exuded self-belief. And he regained his motivation after suffering a setback. Rocky on the other hand, reverted to HIS prior form – the man who didn’t

believe in himself, the man he always feared he really was – just another bum in the neighborhood. The dynamic duo would evolve into one of the greatest 80s bromances of the decade, but their partnership got off to a rocky start. Apollo knew a change of scenery, a change in training, and a change of approach were what was needed for Balboa to beat Clubber Lang. But Balboa’s heart wasn’t in it, because he had lost the confidence that he only briefly experienced when he had the life changing union with Adrian. Balboa’s training was nothing short of awful.

Creed was absolutely battering Rocky something fierce during the preparations! And if he wasn’t battering him inside the ring, he was schooling him in races. It got to the point where one might wonder why Creed himself didn’t decide to challenge Clubber Lang, because Rocky’s training sucked. Eventually a nice pep talk from Adrian got him to recognize that he was afraid for all the wrong reasons. This got him back on track, believing in himself again, and amazingly, Creed’s training produced incredible results. Rocky was originally struggling to do the doggy-paddle, but now he had mastered the most difficult

butterfly stroke. And now all of a sudden, Balboa finally beat Creed in a race, and their post-race celebration was the apex of their iconic 80s bromance. Creed succeeded in helping Rocky get back that Eye of the Tiger, and in a gesture of friendship Apollo insisted Rocky wear his trunks from their first bout. Rocky agreed, and now he owed Creed a favor. You got me curious. You got me curious, Rock. And you’re gonna owe me a big favor. What favor? When it’s over. You got me curious. You got me curious, Rock. You just make sure you

wash them before you bring them back, alright? Will do. After this you owe me a favor. What favor? You got me curious. Rocky went on to defy the odds, and he persevered overcoming two early knockdowns, before stopping the mighty Clubber Lang in round 3. Creed had succeeded in helping his former foe turned friend, and the favor he wanted was to compete in the trilogy fight that never was, behind closed doors, no newspapers, no TV’s – just Creed and Balboa, mano a mano. This was important because it illustrated that despite being a tremendous showman, and a

clever businessman, and a well respected celebrity with an endearing personality – deep down, being a warrior is what defined him, and it all circles back to that first scene, that first conflict, where Apollo demanded a ranked contender – PRIDE and CHAMPIONSHIP HEART – that was what defined Apollo Creed. Apollo’s pride wanted another crack at Balboa for his own piece of mind. When amateur Soviet heavyweight champion Ivan Drago arrived in the United States seeking out a goodwill exhibition against Rocky Balboa, Creed looked mighty perturbed. This reflects back on Apollo’s entrance before his first fight with Rocky.

While the ring entrance attire may have seemed like nothing more than a marketing gimmick for the Bicentennial celebration, Creed’s response here suggests that his patriotism was real. Creed was defined by his pride, but he was also a proud American. Creed saw Drago as a clumsy amateur who, despite being younger and bigger, still lacked the skill to match his level. Creed was confident, and his ability to remain competitive with Balboa both in training and in their secret trilogy match – this emboldened Creed. Creed was looking to fill the void left after leaving the competitive spotlight, and

he likewise saw an opportunity for himself to be the one to stop the giant Russian. Creed had been retired for 5 years at this point, but his warrior mentality had never left him. We have to be right in the middle of the action because we’re the warriors. And without some challenge, without some damn war to fight, then the warrior may as well be dead, Stallion. In what would ultimately be his final ring entrance, Apollo put on a grandiose performance with the aid of the one and only James Brown. Apollo is showboating like there is no

tomorrow, dancing around to the music and enjoying every second of it. Creed was ecstatic in the moment, reliving his glory days under the big spotlight, and he was doing everything in his power to entertain the crowd with his unique brand of showmanship. Of course the fight did not go well for Apollo. He was overmatched by his younger, stronger, juiced-up opponent, and he was getting clobbered. In addition to underestimating the powerhouse force before him, Creed’s own speed and reflexes and ability had greatly diminished. Rocky wanted to stop the fight, but Creed refused. True to form, Apollo

was defined by his PRIDE and his CHAMPIONSHIP HEART. And this led to his ultimate demise. The brutal beating he suffered at the hands of Ivan Drago had tragically ended his life. Apollo’s influence would be felt beyond his death, but that was the end of what we see of his character. During his onscreen time in the story, Apollo always acted as a perfect counterpart to Balboa, where the two started as competitors, they had a heated rivalry, and they ultimately had a working relationship that culminated with them developing a deep bond of true friendship that was predicated

on mutual admiration and respect. Apollo Creed may have arguably been written as a bit of a one dimensional character on the surface, but Carl Weathers was so brilliant in his portrayal that he made the character genuine and real, with a strong dose of nuance and humanity, and the end result was an iconic movie character for the ages. The boxing scenes may not have always been realistic, but the humanity most certainly was, with all of the flaws that come with the territory. Even when Creed acted as the antagonist in the original movie, and especially the second

movie – because Rocky’s main battle in the original was really against himself – but even after Creed became more villainous in Rocky II – the character still exuded a great sense of humanity and realism, where he was relatable. The following friendship that evolved between the two former foes only added to that realism. At the end of the day, not only was Apollo Creed one of the greatest fictional boxers to grace the big screen, dare I say, Apollo Creed was one of the most endearing and lovable and iconic characters during the long rich history of ALL

film and television. And Carl Weathers was the man who made all that happen, the man who brought Apollo Creed to life. I was sad to hear Carl Weathers passed away. I have always had a soft spot for Rocky III, because honestly, that was what FIRST got me interested in boxing before I started watching real boxing. So in a very real sense, Carl played a critical part in the initial inspiration that led me down the path that led to Rummy’s Corner. Apollo Creed was a big part of my childhood because of Carl, whose performances I still

enjoy to this day because they were magical and memorable. And it wasn’t just the Rocky movies – he was awesome in Predator with one of the greatest 80s handshakes there ever was, and he was excellent in Happy Gilmore, and me personally – I always loved Action Jackson, and as a kid I long hoped that one might have a sequel, and that’s another movie I may not have watched had I not been like WHOA! Look at that, it’s the actor who played Apollo! And he was good as Greef Carga in The Mandalorian. But the role I’ll

always most identify him with was The Master of Disaster, the one and only Apollo Creed. Apollo Creed will forever remain one of my favorite all time movie characters. Thanks for all the memories Carl. May you rest in peace. Thank you very much for watching everyone, I hope you enjoyed, and have a wonderful night. This is Rummy’s Corner. And in keeping with great events throughout the country’s history, Apollo Creed will duplicate the cracking of the Liberty Bell by cracking Mac Lee Green. I believe we can find a solution. Solution nothing. Now you better find me another

ranked contender, and I mean in a flash, Jergens. Be a doctor, be a lawyer, carry a leather briefcase. Forget about sports as a profession. Sports make you grunt and smell. See, be a thinker, not a stinker. Without a ranked contender what this fight is gonna need is a novelty. A Snow White underdog, and I’m gonna put his face on this poster with me. And I’ll tell you why, because I’m sentimental. This is what I’m looking for, The Italian Stallion. Rocky Balboa? Never heard of him. Apollo Creed meets the Italian Stallion. Sounds like a damn monster

movie. Rocky, ain’t you Italian? Yeah, I’m Italian. Well now what does that mean? That means, if he can’t fight, I’ll bet he can cook. Hey Joe. Now you’ve been ducking me long enough. No Joe. You next, Joe. You next, you next, Joe. There ain’t gonna be no rematch. There ain’t gonna be no rematch. Don’t want one. Look! Nobody goes the distance with me! Get up out of that chair, chump! And let’s finish this fight right now! Look, chump! Any place, any time! Did you give me your best? Yeah. Yeah. How much did you get to

carry that bum for 15 rounds? You’re a disgrace to your people. Why can’t you ignore it? Are you serious? Do you think I beat him the last time? Do you? You got the decision. Man I won, but I didn’t beat him! I’m ready to have a rematch, to prove that this lucky clubfighter, and that’s what he was, lucky, does not have the skill to last 5 minutes in the ring with a superior athlete like me! Apollo Creed will provide the ultimate gala spectacle, on Thanksgiving, in front of this man’s home crowd. I’m gonna drop him

like a bad habit! Does this look like a circus to you, man? Come November, you’re mine. Get up! Now get me another one, alright? Come on, you gotta ease up on these sparring partners. You just get me another man. You’re going down! No. No way. Give everybody a present and drop this chump, alright? Alright, good luck to you. Now when we fought you had that eye of the tiger, man. The edge. You gotta get that look back, Rock. Eye of the tiger, man. Eye of the tiger. Come on. Maybe we can win it back together.

Eye of the tiger, man. He’s hookin’, he’s hookin’. Damn, Rock! Come on! It’s over. It’s all over. What’s the matter with you? Tomorrow. We’ll do it tomorrow. There is no tomorrow! Hey, boy! After I crucify him, you next! Just stay outta my face, chump. Don’t turn your back on me, sucka! We have a brawl before the bell. I know what I’m doin’. I swear I know what I’m doin’. Don’t tell me what you think! Go out there and do it, Rock! Eye of the tiger! You understand? Yeah. No TV, no newspapers, just you and me.

Nothing, just you and me. Age before beauty? Anything you say, Stallion. I do all the work, okay. No, Stallion! Maybe you think you’re changing. But you can’t change what you really are. And you can forget all this money and stuff you got all around you, man. Because it don’t change a thing. That’s where you’re wrong! This is not just an exhibition fight that doesn’t mean anything. Look, this is us against them! What are you talking about? Come on! You don’t stop this fight no matter what. No matter what. My God! Creed is down! Apollo is

down and he could be badly hurt. I’ll never forget you, Apollo. You’re the best.

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