The Rocky Road To Success Is Paved With Hard Work


The Rocky Balboa statue in Philadelphia.

It was a typical lazy Sunday that was dark, dreary, rainy and cool from the latest tropical storm. The weather squashed hopes of any outside activity. Even the dogs didn’t want to go out, making it the perfect day to vegetate.

Turning on the TV, I start channel surfing. It didn’t take long to find something of interest — “Rocky.” Even though I’d seen this movie about a thousand times, I’m always a sucker for it.


Doing quick arithmetic, I was shocked to learn it’s been 47 years since I originally saw this movie in the theatre. It’s been a favorite since then, and the more I learn about the movie, the more I like it.

I was in 10th grade, and my older brother was a senior in high school. It was Christmas break, and we were in limbo mode — the period between Christmas and New Year’s. My mom, brother, and I decided to go to the movies. All we knew was it was a boxing movie. I started wrestling that year, and the parallels were obvious.


Rocky Balboa was a down-and-out boxer fighting in clubs for a few bucks in Philadelphia. He supplemented his income as a debt collector for the local bookie. Then, he was given a one-in-a-million chance to fight the current heavyweight champ when the scheduled opponent got hurt during training. It was supposed to be more exhibition than anything.

Sylvester Stallone and his “real life” dog Butkus,
who starred in the movie “Rocky.”

Hard Work

Rocky started training like crazy for the upcoming fight with the help of his crusty old trainer, Mick. He enthralled us with his training routine, which started by getting up early, cracking five raw eggs into a glass and then chugging the whole mess, with some running down his chin for added effect. With breakfast over and donning trademark gray sweats and black Chuck Taylor basketball shoes, Rocky began a painful run through the streets of Philadelphia, ending by running up the 72 steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Tired, cramping, and out of breath, Rocky looked rough.

But the whole theme of the movie is about hard work and perseverance. There’s a three-minute training sequence showing Rocky working out, which, for me, was the whole movie. Viewers saw Rocky getting stronger over time with one of the most kickass movie theme songs ever written — “Gonna’ Fly Now” by Bill Conti. Even to this day, each time I hear this song, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

The training sequence involved one-armed push-ups, sit-ups, being punched in the gut repeatedly, running with bricks in his hands through the train yard, and hitting the speed bag. This time, he ended up flying up the Museum steps, taking three and four at a time, then shadowboxing once he reached the top — full of energy. He was ready!

Rocky exemplifies something long forgotten. Hard work pays off! You don’t need fancy equipment; you just need to work hard.

Every great film has a love story, and Rocky is no different. He fell in love with a shy, homely girl who developed into a beautiful woman as she herself gained confidence. Yo, Adrian!


On the eve of the fight, Rocky concluded he couldn’t beat his opponent Apollo Creed. Instead, his goal was to go the distance by lasting 15 rounds with the champ, as no one has ever done before. The fight is classic! Rocky landed some good blows, even knocked the champ down a few times, but took more blows than dished. But he was tough and never gave up! Another great life lesson lost today: never give up!

The fight ended with a split decision, with Creed declared the winner. At the end of the fight, Creed stated, “Ain’t gonna be no rematch. Don’t want one!” Rocky almost beat the world heavyweight champion of the world through the basic traits of hard work, never giving up, and being tough.

These same traits are transferable to any aspect of a successful life but are especially pertinent to concealed carry and self-defense. No matter what you have on you, never give up, be tough and train like your life depends on it … because it does. The harder you work, the harder it is to give up.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Did you know Sylvester Stallone was so poor before “Rocky” that he had to sell his dog for $25 because he couldn’t afford to feed him? When he sold the rights to Rocky, he hung out at the liquor store for a week looking for the man he sold his dog to so he could buy him back for $15,000. Butkus appeared in the movie as himself.

Stallone was initially offered $265,000 for the screenplay of “Rocky” but turned it down. Stipulating he was to play the main character, he finally found a buyer and accepted an offer for $25,000 plus a percentage of gross movie sales. “Rocky” went on to achieve blockbuster status. Reportedly, Stallone walked away with over 2.5 million from ticket sales. He followed up with a string of sequels, as well as “Rambo.” Stallone’s movie career was established, and he’s been very successful, all because he never gave up, believed in himself and worked his tail off!

In Summation

Maybe it’s the totality of circumstance that makes me love the “Rocky” movie so much. Being in 10th grade, and the holiday season, my mom was still alive, and it’s just a warm memory of seeing a great movie with those I loved, reinforcing everything I believe in. Whatever it is, I always stop and watch “Rocky” whenever I channel surf.

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