Forty years ago this month, Sylvester Stallone starred in the seminal boxing film Rocky, the ultimate underdog story about a working class boxer who won the hearts of American audiences even though [SPOILER ALERT] he lost his fictional title match with Apollo Creed. Since its debut, "Rocky" spawned six sequels as well as countless imitations and spoofs.
In honor of its 40th anniversary, here are comedy's very best tributes to the Academy Award winning film.
1. Will Smith's Schoolyard Rematch
The most parodied moment of the "Rocky" franchise is the training montage set to the movie's theme - Gonna Fly Now. It's been rehashed so many times that spoofing it is pretty much cliché. But one parody stands out from the rest. In the 1994 Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode "Philadelphia Story", Will Smith returns home for a rematch against the bully who beats him up in the show's opening credits.
2. South Park's Little League Heavyweights
Trey Parker and Matt Stone went beyond mocking the montage when they spoofed "Rocky" in the 2005 South Park episode "The Losing Edge". As the South Park boys rise in the ranks of little league baseball, Stan's dad Randy has to learn how to punch above his weight class if he's going to win bareknuckle brawls with other drunken, loud-mouthed fathers on the national stage.
He soon meets his match at the pivotal ballgame of the post season. During the fight, Randy gets knocked down in a daze after a thunderous punch from "Batdad."
He nearly throws in the towel until Rocky Balboa's trainer Mickey (Burgess Meredith) shows up to get him back in the fight.
And then he puts Batdad down for a nap on the outfield.
3. Family Guy's Parody Double Header
Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy has parodied "Rocky" again and again. The two best spoofs feature the Griffin family duking it out. In the Season 8 episode "Something, Something Dark Side" (2010), Chris' Jedi training montage splices in footage from Rocky IV as the Griffin family's eldest son chops down a tree with a lightsaber.
And in the Season 9 episode "Baby, You Knock Me Out" (2010), Lois "The Ovarian Barbarian" Griffin gets into a match for the boxing title of Rhode Island. During the fight, Peter sings the theme from Rocky III -- "Eye of the Tiger".
4. Rocky Ends the Cold War on ESPN
In 2010, CollegeHumor parodied both Stallone's sports franchise and ESPN in a mockumentary that treated Rocky IV as though the bout between Balboa and Soviet superman Ivan Drago was an actual event. The satire also featured real sports commentators like boxing analyst Max Kellerman.
"I've only cried twice 'cause of a sporting event," Kellerman says in the sketch. "When Happy Gilmore accidentally killed Chubbs. And then, when Apollo died [in the ring against Drago]."
They also mocked the film's portrayal of boxing.
"These guys landed 91 percent of their power punches -- that's unheard of," sports author Robert Flores quips. "From a technical standpoint, it's the worst defence I've ever seen in a boxing ring."
5. Jimmy Kimmel's 'Clubber'
In 2015, Rocky stepped back into the ring in Creed -- the unofficial "Rocky 7" that saw Balboa train the son of his former rival, mentor and partner Apollo Creed. Jimmy Kimmel jumped on the film's success last February with a mock trailer for "Clubber" -- a fictional spinoff featuring the son of Clubber Lang (Mr. T) from Rocky III.
The sketch stars Tracy Morgan as Clubber Lang, Jr. -- a boxer who's so down on his luck, he can't even get respect at the Wendy's drive-thru. "All I asked for was extra honey mustard," Junior wails.
Later on, Clubber gets into the ring against his own father -- played by a real life boxing legend impersonating Mr. T.
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