Chuck Wepner

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Chuck Wepner
WepnerRossman.JPG
Charles 'Chuck' Wepner (left) and former World Light Heavyweight Champion Mike Rossman ringside at The Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, October 12, 2012
Statistics
Real nameCharles Wepner
Nickname(s)The Bayonne Brawler a.k.a. The Bayonne Bleeder
Rated atHeavyweight
Height1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)
NationalityAmerican
Born(1939-02-26) February 26, 1939 (age 75)
New York City, New York, United States
StanceOrthodox
Boxing record
Total fights51
Wins35
Wins by KO17
Losses14
Draws2
 
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Chuck Wepner
WepnerRossman.JPG
Charles 'Chuck' Wepner (left) and former World Light Heavyweight Champion Mike Rossman ringside at The Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, October 12, 2012
Statistics
Real nameCharles Wepner
Nickname(s)The Bayonne Brawler a.k.a. The Bayonne Bleeder
Rated atHeavyweight
Height1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)
NationalityAmerican
Born(1939-02-26) February 26, 1939 (age 75)
New York City, New York, United States
StanceOrthodox
Boxing record
Total fights51
Wins35
Wins by KO17
Losses14
Draws2

Charles "Chuck" Wepner (born February 26, 1939) is a former heavyweight boxer from Bayonne, New Jersey.[1][2] As a tough journeyman boxer he went 15 rounds with world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in a 1975 fight. Wepner claimed that he was the inspiration for the movie Rocky. Wepner also appeared in the book Operation Bullpen about the $100 million fake autograph scam. The last chapters of Operation Bullpen focus on the John Olson-Chuck Wepner counterfeit scheme in which Olson forged Muhammad Ali autographs on a variety of Ali merchandise, including photographs of Ali and Wepner. Wepner sold forgeries in partnership with Olson, and in 2002 the FBI arrested them both. Each received probation for their crimes.

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Wepner, nicknamed "The Bayonne Bleeder," debuted as a professional boxer in 1964 and began posting many wins and some losses. He had formerly boxed while a member of the United States Marine Corps, and had worked as a bouncer before turning pro.[3] He was the New Jersey State Heavyweight Boxing Champion and popular fighter in the Northeast's Club Boxing circuit. But after losing fights to George Foreman (by knockout in three) and Sonny Liston (by knockout in ten) many boxing fans thought that his days as a contender were numbered. After the fight with Liston, Wepner needed 72 stitches in his face. He also lost a fight to Troy Kim (by knockout in 2) in Virginia.

However, after losing to Joe Bugner by a knockout in three in England, Wepner won nine of his next eleven fights, including victories over Charlie Polite and former WBA Heavyweight champion Ernie Terrell.

Muhammad Ali fight[edit]

In 1975, it was announced Wepner would challenge Muhammad Ali for the world's Heavyweight title. According to a Time magazine article, "In Stitches", Ali was guaranteed $1.5 million and Wepner signed for $100,000. This was considerably more than Wepner had ever earned and he therefore did not need any coaxing. Wepner spent eight weeks near the Catskill Mountains under the guidance of Al Braverman (trainer and noted cutman) and Bill Prezant (manager). Prezant prophesied that the fight would be a big surprise. This bout was the first time Wepner had been able to train full-time.[4] The fight was held on March 24 at the Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio south of Cleveland. Before the fight, a reporter asked Wepner if he thought he could survive in the ring with the champion, to which Wepner allegedly answered, "I've been a survivor my whole life...if I survived the Marines, I can survive Ali."[citation needed]

In the ninth round Wepner knocked Ali down, though Ali later contended that Wepner had stepped on his foot, a claim confirmed by photos.[5] 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."[6]

In the remaining rounds, Ali decisively outboxed Wepner and opened up cuts above both Wepner's eyes and broke his nose. Wepner was far behind on the scorecards when Ali knocked him down with 19 seconds left in the 15th round. The referee counted to seven before calling a technical knockout.[7]

In 1976, Wepner fought professional wrestler André the Giant and lost by countout after Andre threw him out of the ring.[8][9]

Last fight[edit]

Wepner's last fight was on May 2, 1978 for the New Jersey State Heavyweight Championship against a new rising prospect, Scott Frank, noted for a useful heavy left hook.[10] Wepner lost the fight in a 12 round decision, but again proved durable, Ring magazine noted. He announced his retirement after the fight.[11]

Later life[edit]

Wepner works today with his second wife Linda in the liquor store management field for Majestic Wines and Spirits in Carlstadt, New Jersey, and is an expert in consumer liquors, wines and spirits.[12]

A film about Wepner's career was released in 2012.[13] and ESPN aired a documentary titled 'The Real Rocky' on October 25, 2011.[14] The ESPN film features a clip of Wepner's ninth round knockdown of Muhammad Ali in their 1975 world heavyweight title bout.[15]

Ring appearances[edit]

Wepner occasionally makes ringside appearances at boxing cards in his home state of New Jersey, signing autographs and posing for photos with boxing fans. On October 12, 2012, Wepner appeared ringside with former World Light Heavyweight champion Mike Rossman in Atlantic City, New Jersey at a Tropicana Casino & Resort Atlantic City fight card featuring a WBA NABA Lightweight title bout in the main event. Wepner held the WBA NABA heavyweight title during his boxing career.

Rocky[edit]

Sylvester Stallone watched Wepner's fight against Ali and shortly afterwards wrote the script for Rocky, but Stallone subsequently denied that Wepner provided any inspiration for the movie.[16][17] Wepner filed a lawsuit which was eventually settled with Stallone for an undisclosed amount.[17]

It is speculated that the 1982 film Rocky III was influenced by his fight against Andre the Giant, as the movie features a match versus wrestler Hulk Hogan as "Thunderlips", who throws Rocky out of the ring.[16][18][19]

Professional boxing record[edit]

35 Wins (17 knockouts), 14 Losses, 2 Draws [20]
ResultRecordOpponentTypeRoundDateLocationNotes
Loss35-14-2United States Scott FrankPTS1226/09/1978United States Ice World, Totowa, New Jersey, United StatesReferee: Jersey Joe Walcott. Lost USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.
Win35-13-2United States Tom HealyKO5 (?)02/06/1978United States Old Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States
Win34-13-2United States Johnny BlaineKO3 (?)07/04/1978United States Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States
Loss33-13-2Canada Horst GeislerTKO10 (10)20/05/1977United States Broome County Arena, Binghamton, New York, United StatesWepner down in the 10th round.
Loss33-12-2South Africa Mike SchuttePTS1019/02/1977South Africa Wembley Stadium, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Loss33-11-2United States Duane BobickTKO6 (10)02/10/1976United States Utica College Sports Complex, Utica, New York, United StatesBout was stopped on cuts.
Win33-10-2United States Tommy SheehanTKO2 (10)06/05/1976United States Kearny, New Jersey, United States
Win32-10-2United States Johnny DolanKO3 (10)19/11/1975United States Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States
Win31-10-2United States Johnny EvansTKO4 (10)19/11/1975United States Portland, Maine, United States
Loss30-10-2United States Muhammad AliTKO15 (15)24/03/1975United States Richfield Coliseum, Richfield, Ohio, United StatesFor WBC & WBA Heavyweight titles. Ali down in the 9th round after Wepner knocked him down with a body shot, Wepner almost went the distance and was TKOed with 19 sec. left in the 15th and final round, This fight was the inspiration for Rocky.
Win30-9-2United States Terry HinkeTKO11 (12)03/09/1974United States Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, Utah, United StatesPromoter Dick Sadler billed this for the American Heavyweight title. Wepner was penalized 4 points for assorted fouls. Hinke ruled down 3 times in 11th.
Win29-9-2United States Charley PoliteKO4 (?)23/05/1974United States Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States
Win28-9-2United States Randy NeumannTKO6 (12)08/03/1974United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United StatesRetained USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title. Neumann suffered a severe gash from a clash of heads.
Win27-9-2United States Billy WilliamsPTS1017/01/1974United States Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States
Win26-9-2United States Ernie TerrellPTS1223/06/1973United States Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United StatesWon vacant National Americas heavyweight title.
Win25-9-2United States Billy MarquartPTS1215/03/1973United States Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United StatesRetained USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.
Win24-9-2United States John ClohessyPTS1007/12/1972United States Bayonne, New Jersey, United States
Win23-9-2United States Randy NeumannPTS1215/04/1972United States Jersey City, New Jersey, United StatesWon USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.
Loss22-9-2United States Randy NeumannPTS1209/12/1971United States Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United StatesLost USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.
Win22-8-2United States Mike BoswellTKO10 (10)14/10/1971United States Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States
Win21-8-2United States Jesse CrownKO4 (?)16/09/1971United States Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States
Loss20-8-2United States Jerry JudgeTKO5 (8)06/01/1971United States Catholic Youth Center, Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States
Loss20-7-2Australia Joe BugnerRTD3 (10)08/09/1970United Kingdom Empire Pool, Wembley, London, England, United KingdomCut eye stoppage.
Loss20-6-2United States Sonny ListonRTD9 (10)29/06/1970United States Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, United StatesWepner down by body blow in the 5th round. Fight stopped by ring doctor after round 9 because of multiple cuts on Wepner's face.
Win20-5-2Mexico Manuel RamosUD1026/01/1970United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Win19-5-2Puerto Rico Pedro AgostoPTS1019/12/1969United States Felt Forum, New York, New York, United States
Loss18-5-2United States George ForemanTKO3 (10)18/08/1969United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United StatesWepner's eye opened up slightly in the 1st round, and was bad enough by the beginning of the 3rd to give Foreman a TKO.
Loss18-4-2United States Jose RomanPTS1022/06/1969Puerto Rico Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win18-3-2United States Mike BrucePTS828/04/1969United States Secaucus, New Jersey, United States
Win17-3-2Peru Roberto DavilaMD1014/03/1969United States Felt Forum, New York, New York, United StatesScoring: 5-4-1, 5-5, 6-4.
Win16-3-2United States Jerry TomasettiTKO1 (10)13/12/1968United States Felt Forum, New York, New York, United States
Win15-3-2United States Mert BrownfieldPTS1009/11/1968United States Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States
Win14-3-2United States Forest WardTKO7 (8)28/09/1968United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United StatesWard was down three times in the 7th round, triggering an automatic stoppage.
Win13-3-2United States Mike BrucePTS820/05/1968United States Plaza Arena, Secaucus, New Jersey, United States
Win12-3-2United States Eddie VickSD1030/04/1968United States Walpole, Massachusetts, United States
Win11-3-2United States Clay ThomasTKO3 (?)22/01/1968United States Secaucus, New Jersey, United States
Win10-3-2United States Charlie HarrisTKO6 (?)27/11/1967United States Secaucus, New Jersey, United States
Loss9-3-2United States Jerry TomasettiTKO5 (6)19/07/1967United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Win9-2-2United States Don McAteerTKO5 (6)28/04/1967United States Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, United StatesWon vacant USA New Jersey State heavyweight title. McAteer was a last minute sub.
Win8-2-2United States Dave CentiPTS621/10/1966United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Win7-2-2United States Johnny DeutschKO6 (?)03/08/1966United States Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States
Win6-2-2United States Cleo DanielsPTS606/04/1966United States Westchester County Center, White Plains, New York, United States
Win5-2-2United States Jerry TomasettiPTS622/02/1966United States Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States
Loss4-2-2United States Buster MathisTKO3 (6)17/01/1966United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United StatesWepner was knocked down in the 1st.
Loss4-1-2United States Bob StallingsPTS619/10/1965United States Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States
Draw4-0-2United States Everett CopelandPTS623/03/1965United States Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States
Win4-0-1United States Ray PattersonSD619/01/1965United States Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United StatesPatterson was knocked down in the 2nd.
Win3-0-1United States Jerry TomasettiPTS418/12/1964United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Draw2-0-1United States Everett CopelandPTS627/10/1964United States Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States
Win2–0United States Rudy PavesiPTS414/08/1964United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Win1–0George CooperKO3 (?)05/08/1964United States City Stadium, Bayonne, New Jersey, United States

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Chuck "The Real Rocky" Wepner's Home Page with Muhammad Ali". Wepner.homestead.com. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  2. ^ "Chuck Wepner : Boxer". Boxrec.com. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  3. ^ "Don’t Bleed For Me Bayonne". Thesweetscience.com. 2004-11-06. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  4. ^ "In Stitches". Time Magazine. 1975-04-07. Retrieved 2007-05-24. 
  5. ^ http://boxrec.com/media/index.php/File:Wepner_on_Ali_foot.jpg. Retrieved 2013-12-11.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Real-Life "Rocky" Boxer Chuck Wepner Talks w/ Jim Clash". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ "Andre The Giant | Chuck Wepner (ex) 1/1". YouTube. 2009-04-21. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  9. ^ "Andre the Giant vs. Chuck Wepner". YouTube. 2006-08-26. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  10. ^ "Scott Frank". Njboxinghof.org. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  11. ^ "Interview with Chuck Wepner: Blood, Sweat & Tears! - Boxing News". Doghouseboxing.com. 2011-03-10. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  12. ^ "35 years after facing Muhammad Ali, 'Bayonne Bleeder' Chuck Wepner still pulls no punches | Professional | NewJerseyNewsroom.com - Your State. Your News". NewJerseyNewsroom.com. 2010-03-23. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  13. ^ New Jersey. "Politi: Chuck Wepner, the real 'Rocky,' to have his story told by Hollywood, ESPN documentary". NJ.com. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  14. ^ "After 36 years, real-life Rocky's story coming soon". CNN. September 23, 2011. 
  15. ^ "ESPN Films - Chuck Wepner Knocks Down Muhammed Ali". YouTube. 1974-10-30. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  16. ^ a b "Chuck Wepner finally recognized for 'Rocky' fame - ESPN". Espn.go.com. 2011-10-25. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  17. ^ a b Feuerzeig, Jeff (Director) (2011-10-25). The Real Rocky (Motion picture). ESPN Films. 
  18. ^ "Thunderlips.wmv". YouTube. 2010-07-02. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  19. ^ "Synopsis for Rocky III (1982)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  20. ^ "Chuck Wepner : Boxer". Boxrec.com. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 

External links[edit]