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Chuck Wepner

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Chuck Wepner
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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.

CareerEdit

Early careerEdit

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 over 120 sutures in his face. He also lost a fight to Jose King Roman by a decision in Puerto Rico.

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 fightEdit

Then, 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 (manager) and Bill Prezant (trainer and noted cutman). 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."

In the ninth round Wepner knocked down Ali, though Ali later contended that Wepner had stepped on his foot. 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."[5]

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 nine before calling a technical knockout.[6] It is rumored that actor Sylvester Stallone watched the fight at home on television and was inspired to write the script for Rocky, based on Wepner's gutsy challenge, but Stallone subsequently denied that this was true. It is more likely that Stallone was influenced by Rocky Graziano's autobiography Somebody Up There Likes Me, and the movie of the same name. It's also interesting that Graziano's real name, Rocco "Rocky" Barbella is similar to the name Rocky Balboa. Wepner filed a lawsuit which was eventually settled with Stallone for an undisclosed amount. In 1976, Wepner fought professional wrestler André the Giant and lost by countout after Andre threw him out of the ring.[7][8] It is speculated that the 1982 film Rocky III was influenced by this fight, as the movie features a match versus wrestler Hulk Hogan as "Thunderlips", who throws Rocky out of the ring.[9][10][11]

Last fightEdit

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.[12] Wepner lost the fight in a 12 round decision, but again proved durable, Ring magazine noted. He announced his retirement after the fight.[13]

According to Sports Illustrated, he was convicted of cocaine possession (three ounces) in 1988 and sentenced to 10 years at Northern State Prison in Newark.

From approximately 2000 to 2010, Wepner worked for Majestic Wines and Spirits in Carlstadt, NJ.[14]

A film about Wepner's career is set to be released in 2012,[15] and ESPN aired a documentary titled "The Real Rocky" on October 25, 2011.[16]

Professional boxing recordEdit

Boxing Career Stats
35 Wins (17 knockouts), 14 Losses, 2 Draws [1]
Result Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Loss 35-14-2 United States Scott Frank PTS 12 26/09/1978 United States Ice World, Totowa, New Jersey, United States Referee: Jersey Joe Walcott. Lost USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.
Win 35-13-2 United States Tom Healy KO 5 (?) 02/06/1978 United States Old Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States
Win 34-13-2 United States Johnny Blaine KO 3 (?) 07/04/1978 United States Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States
Loss 33-13-2 Canada Horst Geisler TKO 10 (10) 20/05/1977 United States Broome County Arena, Binghamton, New York, United States Wepner down in the 10th round.
Loss 33-12-2 22x20px Mike Schutte PTS 10 19/02/1977 22x20px Wembley Stadium, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Loss 33-11-2 United States Duane Bobick TKO 6 (10) 02/10/1976 United States Utica College Sports Complex, Utica, New York, United States Bout was stopped on cuts.
Win 33-10-2 United States Tommy Sheehan TKO 2 (10) 06/05/1976 United States Kearny, New Jersey, United States
Win 32-10-2 United States Johnny Dolan KO 3 (10) 19/11/1975 United States Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States
Win 31-10-2 United States Johnny Evans TKO 4 (10) 19/11/1975 United States Portland, Maine, United States
Loss 30-10-2 United States Muhammad Ali TKO 15 (15) 24/03/1975 United States Richfield Coliseum, Richfield, Ohio, United States For WBC & WBA Heavyweight titles. Ali down in the 9th round.
Win 30-9-2 United States Terry Hinke TKO 11 (12) 03/09/1974 United States Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States Promoter Dick Sadler billed this as for the American Heavyweight title. Wepner had been penalized 4 points for assorted fouls. Hinke ruled down 3 times in 11th.
Win 29-9-2 United States Charley Polite KO 4 (?) 23/05/1974 United States Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States
Win 28-9-2 United States Randy Neumann TKO 6 (12) 08/03/1974 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States Retained USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title. Neumann suffered a severe gash from a clash of heads.
Win 27-9-2 United States Billy Williams PTS 10 17/01/1974 United States Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States
Win 26-9-2 United States Ernie Terrell PTS 12 23/06/1973 United States Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States Won vacant National Americas heavyweight title.
Win 25-9-2 United States Billy Marquart PTS 12 15/03/1973 United States Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States Retained USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.
Win 24-9-2 United States John Clohessy PTS 10 07/12/1972 United States Bayonne, New Jersey, United States
Win 23-9-2 United States Randy Neumann PTS 12 15/04/1972 United States Jersey City, New Jersey, United States Won USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.
Loss 22-9-2 United States Randy Neumann PTS 12 09/12/1971 United States Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States Lost USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.
Win 22-8-2 United States Mike Boswell TKO 10 (10) 14/10/1971 United States Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States
Win 21-8-2 United States Jesse Crown KO 4 (?) 16/09/1971 United States Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States
Loss 20-8-2 United States Jerry Judge TKO 5 (8) 06/01/1971 United States Catholic Youth Center, Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States
Loss 20-7-2 22x20px Joe Bugner RTD 3 (10) 08/09/1970 United Kingdom Empire Pool, Wembley, London, England, United Kingdom Cut eye stoppage.
Loss 20-6-2 United States Sonny Liston RTD 9 (10) 29/06/1970 United States Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States Wepner down by body blow in the 5th round. Fight stopped by ring doctor after round 9 because of multiple cuts on Wepner's face.
Win 20-5-2 Mexico Manuel Ramos UD 10 26/01/1970 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Win 19-5-2 22x20px Pedro Agosto PTS 10 19/12/1969 United States Felt Forum, New York, New York, United States
Loss 18-5-2 United States George Foreman TKO 3 (10) 18/08/1969 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States Wepner's eye opened up slightly in the 1st round, and was bad enough by the beginning of the 3rd to give Foreman a TKO.
Loss 18-4-2 United States Jose Roman PTS 10 22/06/1969 22x20px Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 18-3-2 United States Mike Bruce PTS 8 28/04/1969 United States Secaucus, New Jersey, United States
Win 17-3-2 22x20px Roberto Davila MD 10 14/03/1969 United States Felt Forum, New York, New York, United States Scoring: 5-4-1, 5-5, 6-4.
Win 16-3-2 United States Jerry Tomasetti TKO 1 (10) 13/12/1968 United States Felt Forum, New York, New York, United States
Win 15-3-2 United States Mert Brownfield PTS 10 09/11/1968 United States Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 14-3-2 United States Forest Ward TKO 7 (8) 28/09/1968 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States Ward was down three times in the 7th round, triggering an automatic stoppage.
Win 13-3-2 United States Mike Bruce PTS 8 20/05/1968 United States Plaza Arena, Secaucus, New Jersey, United States
Win 12-3-2 United States Eddie Vick SD 10 30/04/1968 United States Walpole, Massachusetts, United States
Win 11-3-2 United States Clay Thomas TKO 3 (?) 22/01/1968 United States Secaucus, New Jersey, United States
Win 10-3-2 United States Charlie Harris TKO 6 (?) 27/11/1967 United States Secaucus, New Jersey, United States
Loss 9-3-2 United States Jerry Tomasetti TKO 5 (6) 19/07/1967 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Win 9-2-2 United States Don McAteer TKO 5 (6) 28/04/1967 United States Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States Won vacant USA New Jersey State heavyweight title. McAteer was a last minute sub.
Win 8-2-2 United States Dave Centi PTS 6 21/10/1966 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Win 7-2-2 United States Johnny Deutsch KO 6 (?) 03/08/1966 United States Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 6-2-2 United States Cleo Daniels PTS 6 06/04/1966 United States Westchester County Center, White Plains, New York, United States
Win 5-2-2 United States Jerry Tomasetti PTS 6 22/02/1966 United States Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States
Loss 4-2-2 United States Buster Mathis TKO 3 (6) 17/01/1966 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States Wepner was knocked down in the 1st.
Loss 4-1-2 United States Bob Stallings PTS 6 19/10/1965 United States Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States
Draw 4-0-2 United States Everett Copeland PTS 6 23/03/1965 United States Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States
Win 4-0-1 United States Ray Patterson SD 6 19/01/1965 United States Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States Patterson was knocked down in the 2nd.
Win 3-0-1 United States Jerry Tomasetti PTS 4 18/12/1964 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Draw 2-0-1 United States Everett Copeland PTS 6 27/10/1964 United States Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States
Win 2–0 United States Rudy Pavesi PTS 4 14/08/1964 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Win 1–0 George Cooper KO 3 (?) 05/08/1964 United States City Stadium, Bayonne, New Jersey, United States

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit


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