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Charles "Chuck" Wepner (born February 26, 1939) is a former heavyweight boxer from Bayonne, New Jersey. 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.
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. 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. 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."
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. 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. 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.
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. Wepner lost the fight in a 12 round decision, but again proved durable, Ring magazine noted. He announced his retirement after the fight.
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.
Professional boxing recordEdit
|35 Wins (17 knockouts), 14 Losses, 2 Draws |
|Loss||35-14-2||Scott Frank||PTS||12||26/09/1978||Ice World, Totowa, New Jersey, United States||Referee: Jersey Joe Walcott. Lost USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.|
|Win||35-13-2||Tom Healy||KO||5 (?)||02/06/1978||Old Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||34-13-2||Johnny Blaine||KO||3 (?)||07/04/1978||Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States|
|Loss||33-13-2||Horst Geisler||TKO||10 (10)||20/05/1977||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||Duane Bobick||TKO||6 (10)||02/10/1976||Utica College Sports Complex, Utica, New York, United States||Bout was stopped on cuts.|
|Win||33-10-2||Tommy Sheehan||TKO||2 (10)||06/05/1976||Kearny, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||32-10-2||Johnny Dolan||KO||3 (10)||19/11/1975||Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States|
|Win||31-10-2||Johnny Evans||TKO||4 (10)||19/11/1975||Portland, Maine, United States|
|Loss||30-10-2||Muhammad Ali||TKO||15 (15)||24/03/1975||Richfield Coliseum, Richfield, Ohio, United States||For WBC & WBA Heavyweight titles. Ali down in the 9th round.|
|Win||30-9-2||Terry Hinke||TKO||11 (12)||03/09/1974||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||Charley Polite||KO||4 (?)||23/05/1974||Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||28-9-2||Randy Neumann||TKO||6 (12)||08/03/1974||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||Billy Williams||PTS||10||17/01/1974||Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||26-9-2||Ernie Terrell||PTS||12||23/06/1973||Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States||Won vacant National Americas heavyweight title.|
|Win||25-9-2||Billy Marquart||PTS||12||15/03/1973||Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States||Retained USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.|
|Win||24-9-2||John Clohessy||PTS||10||07/12/1972||Bayonne, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||23-9-2||Randy Neumann||PTS||12||15/04/1972||Jersey City, New Jersey, United States||Won USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.|
|Loss||22-9-2||Randy Neumann||PTS||12||09/12/1971||Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States||Lost USA New Jersey State Heavyweight title.|
|Win||22-8-2||Mike Boswell||TKO||10 (10)||14/10/1971||Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||21-8-2||Jesse Crown||KO||4 (?)||16/09/1971||Embassy Hall, North Bergen, New Jersey, United States|
|Loss||20-8-2||Jerry Judge||TKO||5 (8)||06/01/1971||Catholic Youth Center, Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Loss||20-7-2||22x20px Joe Bugner||RTD||3 (10)||08/09/1970||Empire Pool, Wembley, London, England, United Kingdom||Cut eye stoppage.|
|Loss||20-6-2||Sonny Liston||RTD||9 (10)||29/06/1970||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||Manuel Ramos||UD||10||26/01/1970||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States|
|Win||19-5-2||22x20px Pedro Agosto||PTS||10||19/12/1969||Felt Forum, New York, New York, United States|
|Loss||18-5-2||George Foreman||TKO||3 (10)||18/08/1969||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||Jose Roman||PTS||10||22/06/1969||22x20px Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||18-3-2||Mike Bruce||PTS||8||28/04/1969||Secaucus, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||17-3-2||22x20px Roberto Davila||MD||10||14/03/1969||Felt Forum, New York, New York, United States||Scoring: 5-4-1, 5-5, 6-4.|
|Win||16-3-2||Jerry Tomasetti||TKO||1 (10)||13/12/1968||Felt Forum, New York, New York, United States|
|Win||15-3-2||Mert Brownfield||PTS||10||09/11/1968||Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||14-3-2||Forest Ward||TKO||7 (8)||28/09/1968||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||Mike Bruce||PTS||8||20/05/1968||Plaza Arena, Secaucus, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||12-3-2||Eddie Vick||SD||10||30/04/1968||Walpole, Massachusetts, United States|
|Win||11-3-2||Clay Thomas||TKO||3 (?)||22/01/1968||Secaucus, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||10-3-2||Charlie Harris||TKO||6 (?)||27/11/1967||Secaucus, New Jersey, United States|
|Loss||9-3-2||Jerry Tomasetti||TKO||5 (6)||19/07/1967||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States|
|Win||9-2-2||Don McAteer||TKO||5 (6)||28/04/1967||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||Dave Centi||PTS||6||21/10/1966||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States|
|Win||7-2-2||Johnny Deutsch||KO||6 (?)||03/08/1966||Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||6-2-2||Cleo Daniels||PTS||6||06/04/1966||Westchester County Center, White Plains, New York, United States|
|Win||5-2-2||Jerry Tomasetti||PTS||6||22/02/1966||Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States|
|Loss||4-2-2||Buster Mathis||TKO||3 (6)||17/01/1966||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States||Wepner was knocked down in the 1st.|
|Loss||4-1-2||Bob Stallings||PTS||6||19/10/1965||Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States|
|Draw||4-0-2||Everett Copeland||PTS||6||23/03/1965||Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States|
|Win||4-0-1||Ray Patterson||SD||6||19/01/1965||Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States||Patterson was knocked down in the 2nd.|
|Win||3-0-1||Jerry Tomasetti||PTS||4||18/12/1964||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States|
|Draw||2-0-1||Everett Copeland||PTS||6||27/10/1964||Sunnyside Gardens, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States|
|Win||2–0||Rudy Pavesi||PTS||4||14/08/1964||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States|
|Win||1–0||George Cooper||KO||3 (?)||05/08/1964||City Stadium, Bayonne, New Jersey, United States|
- ↑ Chuck "The Real Rocky" Wepner's Official Web Site
- ↑ Chuck Wepner's Boxrec.com page
- ↑ Don’t Bleed For Me Bayonne | TheSweetScience.com Boxing
- ↑ "In Stitches". Time Magazine. 1975-04-07. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,917248,00.html. Retrieved 2007-05-24.
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E20UvJsBykg
- ↑ Ali Pounds Wepner
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3EksOFtILs
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozRTSSaP6p4&feature=related
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUhGoY3h0fY
- ↑ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084602/synopsis
- ↑ http://espn.go.com/boxing/story/_/page/IamChuckWepner/chuck-wepner-recognized-rocky-fame
- ↑ http://www.njboxinghof.org/cgi-bin/henryseehof.pl?486
- ↑ http://www.doghouseboxing.com/Ken/Hissner031011.htm
- ↑ http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/professional/35-years-after-facing-muhammad-ali-bayonne-bleeder-chuck-wepner-still-pulls-no-punches, dated March 23, 2010, accessed April 7, 2010.
- ↑ http://www.nj.com/sports/njsports/index.ssf/2011/09/politi_chuck_wepner_the_real_r.html
- ↑ "After 36 years, real-life Rocky's story coming soon". CNN. September 23, 2011. http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/09/22/wepner.boxing/index.html.
- Chuck Wepner's website
- Professional boxing record for Chuck Wepner from BoxRec
- Interview with Chuck Wepner
- Chuck Wepner at the Internet Movie Database