At the Television Critics Association Cable Press Tour today, Inside Reel attended the ESPN panel where it announced several of the subjects for the second season of ESPN Films’ “30 for 30” documentary series. The series returns on September 27 at 8 p.m. on ESPN after a critically successful first season. On hand was the subject of one of the films, “The Real Rocky” directed by Michael Tollin.
The film tells the tale of Chuck Wepner, a New Jersey-born heavyweight boxer who is said to be the inspiration for Rocky Balboa. One year before that film, Wepner, a relatively unknown boxer, went 15 rounds with world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali until finally getting TKO’d in the final 20 seconds. It is said that Sylvester Stallone, watching the fight from home, was inspired to write the script for the Best Picture winner after watching Wepner’s performance.
Chuck Wepner was on hand at the ESPN stop of the summer press tour and had this to say about the status of heavyweight boxing in America today and his famed fight with Ali:
“I was only down one time with Ali in the 15th round. We don’t have good heavyweights [in America] anymore. Now it is these little guys. The people from Europe [still] train hard. The guys here want to go in a lot of different directions. They just want a payday and then they’re out. For the Ali fight, Don King sent me up to camp even though I was a 40-to-1 shot.”
“The Real Rocky” will debut on ESPN on October 25.