Recognized as “The Real Rocky,” retired professional boxer Chuck Wepner was honored by many members of the Bayonne community at the local premiere of his biopic – nearly 40 years after legendary fight with Muhammad Ali.
Prior to the world premiere at the Frank Theatres – South Cove Stadium 12, over 100 people gathered at the Otaiko Hibachi & Sushi Lounge for a chance to grab dinner, drinks and a photo with Wepner.
Early on, Hudson County View had the pleasure of speaking to Wepner about the film, which opened last week to mostly positive reviews.
“I love the film. You know, Liev Shreiber, Naomi Watts, what’s not to love? It’s a truthful story, I didn’t try to gloss over anything and I was honored they would take the time to do a movie like this, a major motion picture,” he said.
When asked how it felt to finally see his story told on the silver screen, years after the iconic Rocky Balboa series had a very successful box office run, Wepner expressed nothing but content and fulfillment.
“It’s absolutely amazing … it was in the works for over 11 years, but we finally had the right script, pretty much, and we got the best actors: Liev Schreiber, I’ll tell you something, Naomi Watts … it all came together at once and it was really amazing.”
On a short aside, he also told us that his favorite power puncher of the past is Ali, also predicting that Gennady Golovokin will retire undefeated (he’s currently 37-0).
Inside the theatre, the walls were decked out in tribute to the former USA New Jersey State Heavyweight champ, including his encounters with Ali, George Foreman, Sonny Liston, Andre the Giant and Victor The Wrestling Bear.
When he made his grand entrance, Wepner was greeted by Mayor Jimmy Davis and Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti (D-31) before taking pictures with his fans.
In fun twist that many patrons enjoyed, a Rocky Balboa impersonator also made it a point to attend the premiere.
Just outside the venue, we had a brief word with Bruce Dillin, one of the event organizers, who said he and Wepner are hopeful the picture will bring home Academy Awards.
“I thought it was great, it’s an 86 out of a possible 100 on the critic’s scale and we’re looking for Academy Awards: Chuck promised me Academy Awards.”
Former Councilman Ray Greaves and local Republican party chair Vincent Cuseglio also helped organize and run the event.
“Chuck” is rated R and has a run time of 141 minutes.
Below is a video of Wepner entering the theatre that originally streamed live on our Facebook page.