A Character Analysis of Rocky Balboa
The time-honored belief in hard work overcoming obstacles is personified in Rocky Balboa, the main character of John Avildsen’s 1976 film Rocky. Balboa is an underdog, an unsuccessful boxer whose best days seem behind him. Despite this fact, Rocky’s pride prevents him from abandoning his dream of being “somebody”—not just another bum from his Philadelphia neighborhood. When Balboa is miraculously offered a shot at the heavyweight boxing title, Rocky trains with determination and does not surrender to the overwhelming odds. Rocky Balboa is an apparent loser whose pride and determination lead him to moral victory. He exemplifies the importance of believing in oneself.
One of the most appealing aspects about Rocky Balboa is that he is a character many people can identify with—he feels like a loser. Roger Ebert writes, “Balboa is an everyman who is given the opportunity to be a hero after all else seems lost in life” (307). Try as he might, Rocky cannot seem to make a decent living as a boxer. In order to support himself, Rocky takes on the demeaning job of collecting money for a loan shark. Mickey, the owner of the gym where Rocky trains, looks down on Rocky and calls him a “has-been” for wasting the athletic talent Rocky once had in his youth. It is the rare moviegoer who has not felt defeated by life (and a lack of money) at some time or another, and most people see a little bit of themselves in Rocky.
Although Balboa’s life seems to be headed nowhere, Rocky’s pride rescues him from failure when an amazing offer comes his way. Apollo Creed, the boxing heavyweight champion of the world, desperately needs to find an opponent when the scheduled challenger drops out of an upcoming title fight due to a broken hand. As a stunt, Creed subsequently offers the title shot to Rocky, who recognizes this boxing match as a chance to regain his pride. As Rocky states to his girlfriend Adrian, “If I can just go fifteen...
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