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Why Sylvester Stallone turned from southpaw to right-handed in Rocky II

Stallone played the titular boxer in the Rocky film series, the first instalment of which released in 1976

Urmi Chakraborty Calcutta Published 24.04.24, 01:25 PM
A still of Sylvester Stallone from Rocky II.

A still of Sylvester Stallone from Rocky II. IMDb

Sylvester Stallone’s titular boxer fighting right-handed in Rocky II after an impressive showdown with Apollo Creed as a southpaw in the first instalment of the film series was not a creative decision but a fix to prevent a near-career-ending injury from escalating.

Recalling an accident at the gym while doing bench press ahead of Rocky II shoot, Stallone in a recent interview said, “So, I go down, and it’s maybe only 200 [lbs]. I’m just warming up, and I hear a pow. I fall on the floor. And Franco goes, ‘Let me see.’ He jams his fingers…I’ve torn my pec off the bone. I mean, bad. I could hear it go rip, and he’s jamming his fingers. And I think I’m going to black out.”


Stallone had torn his pectoral muscles in a near-career-ending injury and he had to fight right-handed in the film to save his left pectoral muscles from further damage, the 77-year-old said on TMZ special Arnold & Sly: Rivals, Friends, Icons on Tuesday.

Sharing an Instagram reel highlighting the moment from the show which also features his contemporary Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Rambo star wrote, “Now you know the real reason Rocky went from fighting left to right handed. Just like in life, we don’t stop. We don’t quit. We just keep going. We keep punching.”

Suffering from the serious injury, Stallone believed that it was the end of both the boxing franchise as well as his career. “I go home. I feel like my career is over. I’m supposed to start Rocky II, direct it, everything in a month and a half,” he said. “Here’s the difference, and [Schwarzenegger] would have done the same thing. I can’t use this arm, so I’ll change it in Rocky. He’ll fight right-handed.”

Rocky fans might have wondered why the boxer faces deteriorating eyesight and goes right-handed in his fight against Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in the lead up to the first film. “But I said, ‘I’m not stopping this movie just for this.’ And this was a bad injury … I switched arms. That was one of the key things,” Stallone said firmly.

Stallone signed off by looking back on his journey and reminding his fans to never quit in the face of challenges. “But it’s interesting the way these incredible journeys happen. But we don’t stop, we don’t quit,” he said.

Rocky II was released in theaters on June 15, 1979. It grossed approximately USD 200 million at the box office worldwide. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1979. The plot follows Rocky Balboa's struggle with his deteriorating eyesight as he decides whether to retire or pursue a rematch with Apollo Creed.

In TMZ’s Arnold & Sly: Rivals, Friends, Icons, Stallone and his rival-turned-friend Arnold Schwarzenegger open up about their competitive spirit, box-office clashes and eventual reconciliation. Their rivalry emerged during the 1980s and 1990s as they vied for dominance in the action movie genre.

Arnold and Sly: Rivals, Friends, Icons is currently airing on Fox Channel and will be available for streaming on Hulu from Wednesday onwards.

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