|Birth Day:||February 26, 1939|
|Birth Place:||New York City, United States|
He claimed to be the inspiration for the Rocky movies, and fought 15 long and hard rounds against Muhammad Ali in 1975. He compiled a career record of 35-14-2.
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He was a bouncer at a club before pursuing his boxing career.
Charles Wepner was born on February 26, 1939 in New York City. He is of German, Ukrainian, and Polish descent.
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, but after losing fights to George Foreman (by cut eye stoppage 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. Wepner said after his career was over that Liston was the hardest puncher he ever fought.
In 1975, it was announced Wepner would challenge Muhammad Ali for the world heavyweight title.
After Wepner's fight, Sylvester Stallone wrote the script for Rocky, which was released in theatres in 1976. Like Wepner, (Rocky) Balboa lasts 15 rounds, but unlike Wepner, he actually "goes the distance". For years after Rocky was released, Stallone denied that Wepner provided inspiration for the movie.
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.
After his retirement from boxing, Wepner began abusing drugs. In 1979, Sylvester Stallone wanted to cast Wepner as a sparring partner in Rocky II, but he failed the audition due to his drug problems.
In November 1985, Wepner was arrested on drug charges when he was found with four ounces of cocaine in an undercover police investigation. Under a plea-bargain agreement, he was sentenced in 1988 to ten years in prison. He served 17 months in Northern State Prison, Newark, New Jersey, then spent another 20 months in New Jersey's intensive supervision program.
In 2003, Wepner sued Sylvester Stallone, seeking payment for his use as the inspiration for Rocky and the film series. The lawsuit was settled with Stallone in 2006 for an undisclosed amount.
As of 2010, Wepner had been working for 10 years with his third wife Linda in the liquor sales field for Majestic Wines and Spirits in Carlstadt, New Jersey, and was 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 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.
Currently, Chuck Wepner is 82 years, 0 months and 9 days old. Chuck Wepner will celebrate 83rd birthday on a Saturday 26th of February 2022.
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