Chuck Wepner is a liquor salesman from Bayonne, NJ who drives a Cadillac with “Champ” vanity plates. A former New Jersey State Heavyweight Boxing Champion, he took abuse from Sonny Liston, got his nose broken by Muhammad Ali, and inspired Sylvester Stallone to write “Rocky” which won three Academy Awards. Wepner was left out of the “Rocky” glory, and his career took turn after strange turn as he worked to stay in the spotlight: he went on to fight Andre the Giant as “The Assassin” and boxed a 900 pound bear. Twice.
Through interviews, photos and footage, director Jeff Feurerzeig tells Wepner’s story of being the “real Rocky”, the man who went almost the full 15 rounds with Ali in 1975 to inspire the Oscar-winning movie. In many ways, Wepner’s real-life story is actually more captivating than the one that has raked in more than $1 billion.
ESPN Films, creators of the Emmy-nominated and Peabody award-winning 30 for 30 film series, is airing a new film each Tuesday night through November 8. The remaining films of the series will air as follows:
· Tuesday, Oct. 25, 8 p.m. – The Real Rocky (Jeff Feuerzeig/Mike Tollin)
· Tuesday, Nov. 1, 8 p.m. – Unguarded (Jonathan Hock/Philip Aromando)
· Tuesday, Nov. 8, 8 p.m. – Roll Tide/War Eagle (Martin Khodabakhshian/Joe Tessitore)
ESPN Films’ new slate of documentaries will be available on iTunes and Amazon.com the day after each film’s broadcast premiere and will be available on DVD shortly thereafter at major retailers. A compilation of films from the series will be available in a collectible DVD Gift Set this holiday season.
About ESPN Films
Created in March 2008, ESPN Films produces high-quality films showcasing compelling sports stories. In October 2009, ESPN Films launched the Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated 30 for 30 film series. Inspired by ESPN’s 30th Anniversary, the films that made up the series were a thoughtful and innovative reflection on the past three decades told through the lens of diverse and interesting sports fans and social commentators. Additional projects from ESPN Films include, among others, the critically acclaimed and Television Academy Honor-winning 16th Man, Cannes Film Festival official selection The Two Escobars, and the Peabody Award-winning Black Magic. Catching Hell, from Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, and Renée, from filmmaker Eric Drath, are featured in the latest ESPN Films series airing this fall.