Chuck Wepner

Chuck Wepner

Born: February 26, 1939
Age: 78
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Biography

Charles "Chuck" Wepner (born February 26, 1939) is an American former professional boxer who fought at heavyweight. As a world ranked contender he almost went fifteen rounds with world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in a 1975 title fight. Wepner also scored notable wins over Randy Neumann and Ernie Terrell.

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Early life

Charles Wepner was born February 26, 1939 in New York City, New York, the son of Dolores (Hrynko) and Charles William Wepner. He is of German, Ukrainian, and Belorussian descent.

Wepner learned to fight on the streets of Bayonne, New Jersey, saying, "This was a tough town with a lot of people from the docks and the naval base and you had to fight to survive". Wepner was about a year old when he moved in with his grandmother on 28th Street near Hudson Avenue (now Kennedy Boulevard). He was raised by his mother and grandparents, living in a room that was a converted coal shed until he was 13. He was always an avid player of sports in his youth, playing basketball for the Police Athletic League when he was very young. With limited options for his future that included working as a longshoreman on the waterfront or joining the military, Wepner opted for the latter, joining the U.S. Marines, where he became a member of the boxing team, developing a reputation for being able to withstand other boxers' punches, and becoming a military champion at one of the airbases.

Career

Wepner turned professional in 1964 and became a popular fighter on the Northeast's Club Boxing circuit, fighting throughout the county, including arenas close to his boyhood home such as North Bergen and Secaucus. Nicknamed "The Bayonne Bleeder," he 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 72 stitches in his face.

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

In 1975, it was announced Wepner would challenge Muhammad Ali for the world's Heavyweight title.

Don King induced a Cleveland tycoon named Carl Lombardo to underwrite the show for $1.3‐million. Video Techniques put in $200,000 and that just about took care of the nut. Video Techniques had snatched the champion out of Top Rank's clutches but now had a mismatch in a cornfield; a million‐dollar turkey in a 5 and 10 cent store.

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. 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 scored a knockdown, which Ali claimed had occurred because Wepner was stepping 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 seven before calling a technical knockout.

Late career

In 1976, Wepner fought professional wrestler André the Giant and lost by countout after Andre threw him 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.

Later life

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.

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

Wepner sues over 'Copycat' film. Wepner, the boxer who inspired the character of Rocky Balboa, is preparing for a legal fight over his life story.

Ring appearances

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

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. Wepner filed a lawsuit which was eventually settled with Stallone for an undisclosed amount.

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.


Real-Life Rocky Sues Over 'Copycat' Film

In media and popular culture

  • Liev Schreiber is playing the role of Wepner in a sports film, The Bleeder.
  • Zach McGowan is playing the role of Wepner is another sports film, "American Brawler".

Professional boxing record

35 Wins (17 knockouts), 14 Losses, 2 Draws
Result Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Loss Scott Frank PTS 12
Win Tom Healy KO 5
Win Johnny Blaine KO 3
Loss Horst Geisler TKO 10
Loss Mike Schutte PTS 10
Loss Duane Bobick TKO 6
Win Tommy Sheehan TKO 2
Win Johnny Dolan KO 3
Win Johnny Evans TKO 4
Loss Muhammad Ali TKO 15
Win 30-9-2 Terry Hinke TKO 11
Win 29-9-2 Charley Polite KO 4
Win 28-9-2 Randy Neumann TKO 6
Win 27-9-2 Billy Williams PTS 10
Win 26-9-2 Ernie Terrell PTS 12
Win 25-9-2 Billy Marquart PTS 12
Win 24-9-2 John Clohessy PTS 10
Win 23-9-2 Randy Neumann PTS 12
Loss 22-9-2 Randy Neumann PTS 12
Win 22-8-2 Mike Boswell TKO 10
Win 21-8-2 Jesse Crown KO 4
Loss 20-8-2 Jerry Judge TKO 5
Loss 20-7-2 Joe Bugner RTD 3
Loss 20-6-2 Sonny Liston RTD 9
Win 20-5-2 Manuel Ramos UD 10
Win 19-5-2 Pedro Agosto PTS 10
Loss 18-5-2 George Foreman TKO 3
Loss 18-4-2 Jose Roman PTS 10
Win 18-3-2 Mike Bruce PTS 8
Win 17-3-2 Roberto Davila MD 10
Win 16-3-2 Jerry Tomasetti TKO 1
Win 15-3-2 Mert Brownfield PTS 10
Win 14-3-2 Forest Ward TKO 7
Win 13-3-2 Mike Bruce PTS 8
Win 12-3-2 Eddie Vick SD 10
Win 11-3-2 Clay Thomas TKO 3
Win 10-3-2 Charlie Harris TKO 6
Loss 9-3-2 Jerry Tomasetti TKO 5
Win 9-2-2 Don McAteer TKO 5
Win 8-2-2 Dave Centi PTS 6
Win 7-2-2 Johnny Deutsch KO 6
Win 6-2-2 Cleo Daniels PTS 6
Win 5-2-2 Jerry Tomasetti PTS 6
Loss 4-2-2 Buster Mathis TKO 3
Loss 4-1-2 Bob Stallings PTS 6
Draw 4-0-2 Everett Copeland PTS 6
Win 4-0-1 Ray Patterson SD 6
Win 3-0-1 Jerry Tomasetti PTS 4
Draw 2-0-1 Everett Copeland PTS 6
Win 2-0 Rudy Pavesi PTS 4
Win 1-0 George Cooper KO 3

[ Source: Wikipedia ]