If Sylvester Stallone would have gotten his way in the 1980s, Rocky III would have had Philly’s most famous fictional fighter going toe-to-toe with the city’s most beloved real-life heavyweight boxing champ.
Only problem is, Joe Frazier beat up Stallone too badly to be in the flick.
As Stallone explained in a recent Instagram post, the star hoped to cast Frazier as Clubber Lang, Rocky III’s villain, who was ultimately portrayed by Mr. T (a.k.a. Laurence Tureaud). Stallone initially “thought we should use a real fighter just to push the envelope to where fighting films had never gone before.”
“I decided to use the legendary heavyweight champion from Philadelphia, Smokin' Joe Frazier,” Stallone wrote. “He wanted the part very badly and believe me, I wanted him to get it too. Smokin' Joe Frazier fighting Rocky! This would be seriously entertaining — actually unbelievable!”
However, a brief audition/sparring match resulted in six stitches for the Rocky star changed Stallone's mind. The star compared entering a boxing ring with Frazier to “going into a lions cage covered in steak sauce and asking, ‘how do you think I will taste?’”
Since people like the story about Hulk Hogan , maybe you will like this one which leads to the discovery of Mr. T who went on to give an incredible performance as CLUBBER LANG! In Rocky three I thought we should use a REAL fighter , just to push the envelope to where fighting films had never gone before. so I decided to use the legendary heavyweight champion from Philadelphia, Smokin' Joe Frazier to play the brutal CLUBBER LANG So he cheerfully came to the gym , Very excited, very happy, very brightly dressed all in green. Green pants , green shoes, green hat, green shirt, green suspenders! He wanted the part very badly , and believe me I wanted him to get it too ..Smokin' Joe Frazier fighting Rocky !? This would be seriously entertaining, actually unbelievable !!!!! SoI naïvely said why don't we get into the ring and move around a little and see how we look together. I didn't realize it at the time, but This was like going into a lions cage covered in steak sauce and asking " how do you think I will taste ?" This was a very Dumb idea… Very bad. Joe was one of the most punishing fighters that ever lived and other boxers would honestly say that after they fought Smokin' Joe, they were never , ever the same.… Of course I thought that was a slight exaggeration, and I wanted our movie to be special, very realistic no matter what the price… Again in retrospect, A very foolhardy, hazardous , and homicidal concept. Once in the ring, I figured I just move around and avoid his punches , and that idea work well for about two seconds .. Simply because the Next thing I knew there was a Thunderous left hook planted extremely deep in my body, And an overhand right that resembled a falling piano landing just above my left eye .. The world was now spinning in several directions at the same time… Anyway I felt bad for Joe and did not want him to hurt his hands anymore and decided to call it a day. In retrospect,It was a wonderful afternoon meeting The legendary Joe Frazier and getting six stitches but it was also A brilliant realization that I needed someone like Mr. T in my life, more about that later!
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“I felt bad for Joe and did not want him to hurt his hands anymore and decided to call it a day,” Stallone wrote. “In retrospect, It was a wonderful afternoon meeting the legendary Joe Frazier and getting six stitches but it was also a brilliant realization that I needed someone like Mr. T in my life.”
While he didn’t get to beat Rocky on screen, Frazier did make an appearance in the franchise. Smokin’ Joe can be seen in the first Rocky, where he makes a cameo during Rocky’s fight against Apollo Creed, who tells Frazier “You’re next, Joe.”
Rocky III was released in May 1982, and became the fourth highest-grossing film that year, pulling in more than $124 million at the domestic box office, according to Box Office Mojo. The film also resulted in the installation of the famous bronze Rocky statue, which Stallone had commissioned for the film, at the top of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Frazier passed away in November 2011 after a battle with liver cancer. Philadelphia unveiled a statue of the heavyweight champion boxer outside Xfinity Live! in South Philly in September 2015.
Stallone followed up his Frazier post with another flashback from Rocky III —an anecdote that had the actor/director doing handstands to “get some blood back into my head” in order to “carry-on with the complicated fight choreography”:
Just for fun… A flashback from Rocky three. Between rounds I would get lightheaded and quite exhausted. I was on a very high protein diet which did not provide Much physical or mental energy. During the period I only ate very small portions of oatmeal cookies made with brown rice and up to 25 cups of coffee a day with honey and a couple of scoops of tuna fish. Sounds incredible right? At the time my body fat got down to 2.9 which is a really dangerous level. I may have looked pretty good on the outside but inside it was very dangerous thing to do. But I wanted the movie to be about change. How people have to adapt to different challenges because if they don't they will be conquered. I will always believe the adaptation is the key to survival and that's what this story was all about ... and while, getting smashed by Superstrong,CLUBBER LANG continuously four months of rehearsal plus the fight, tended to wear a person out so I would literally go to the corner between rounds, when I wasn't directing and try to get some blood back into my head so I could carry-on with the complicated fight choreography … It's funny, I never knew this picture existed!
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