Real Injury Changed Rocky II’s Story

In the first Rocky movie, Rocky as a southpaw. So important to the plot of the story, the word “southpaw” appears eight times in the “Rocky” script.

So, “Rocky” fans may have wondered why Sylvester Stallone’s character suddenly has eyesight problems in Rocky II and is forced to learn how to box with his right hand in order fight Apollo Creed (played by the late, great Carl Weathers). It turns out that wasn’t Stallone’s original plan for “Rocky II” but was simply the result of Stallone not being to box with his left hand due to the injury.

Stallone revealed on the TMZ special “Arnold & Sly: Rivals, Friends, Icons” that a near career-ending injury in the lead up to “Rocky II” threatened to end the boxing franchise before its first sequel got off the ground. Stallone was training with bodybuilder Franco Columbu about a month and a half before the “Rocky 2” shoot when he ripped his pec muscle right off the bone.

“So, I go down, and it’s maybe only 200 [lbs]. I’m just warming up, and I hear a POW!’ I fall on the floor. And Franco goes, ‘Let me see.’ He jams his fingers — I’ve torn my pec off the bone. I mean, bad. I could hear it go rip, and he’s jamming his fingers. And I think I’m going to black out.”

With Rocky 2 set to begin production in less than two months (with Stallone writing, directing and starring), Stallone is certain his career is over. Instead of quitting, Stallone says he pressed on. If Stallone couldn’t use his left arm, he’d change Rocky so he couldn’t either.

“Rocky II” opened in theaters in June 1979 and made $200 million at the worldwide box office to become the third highest-grossing movie of the year. It proved Stallone had a hit franchise on his hands after the 1976 original “Rocky” proved to be a sleeper hit and won the Oscar for best picture.

In a moment reminiscent of his onscreen character, Stallone said: “it’s interesting the way these incredible journeys happen. But we don’t stop, we don’t quit.”

Variety: Stallone Thought “My Career Is Over”

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