“THE BAYONNE BLEEDER”. Mary Jane and I were talking about the Oscars. The Rocky movies came up in the conversation and Mary Jane said that she had heard that Rocky was based on Rocky Graziano’s autobiography SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME. Oh no, I said, the movie is based on Chuck Wepner, the “Bayonne Bleeder”.
I looked up this wikipedia entry, which tells about Wepner’s fight with Muhammad Ali in 1975. Ali had been world champion. Wepner had been fighting for ten years. Looking at wikipedia, I would say that at that point the high points of Wepner’s career had been being knocked out by Sonny Liston and by George Foreman. Although he had fought elite fighters, the fight with Ali was going to be Wepner’s biggest payday. Ali, of course, was a heavy favorite.
Wepner went into the 15th round with Ali, and lost to a technical knockout with 12 seconds to go in the fight. True to Wepner’s reputation for courage, when the fight was stopped, Ali had opened up cuts above both Wepner’s eyes and broken his nose.
Wikipedia has a sidelight: “In the ninth round Wepner knocked Ali down, though Ali later contended that Wepner had stepped on his foot, a claim confirmed by photos. Wepner went to his corner and said to his manager, ‘Al, start the car. We’re going to the bank. We are millionaires.’ To which Wepner’s manager replied, “You better turn around. He’s getting up and he looks pissed off.”