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CARL WEATHERS, MY HERO

“All I wanted from that moment on was to be like Apollo Creed, he was perfect. I realized for the first time that actors were pretending, because there was no way Apollo could lose to Rocky, no way”.


BY TY RAWLS 2024


When I was a kid, between five and six years old I saw two iconic movies, movies that I would never forget and I still have memories from the day I saw them. Star Wars, and Rocky. When I saw Rocky I was 5 years old. When I watch the movie now it seems surreal that adults would think it was ok for me to see that movie, at 5. I have a distinct memory of the adults around me discussing why it was okay for me to go, clearly making that decision because they really wanted to see the movie. I do understand, we were all starved for content back then, and it’s a good movie, but I was definitely too young to see it. Leaving that aside for now, the discussion I want to have revolves around Apollo, and Rocky. The hero and the nemesis.



As a five year old half white, half black child living among white people I distinctly remember feeling like Apollo was the hero. I remember feeling like Rocky was the bad guy, and I didn’t understand why everyone around me wanted Apollo to lose. He was clearly the better man, clearly the better fighter, he was smarter, better looking, and had class. When we meet Apollo he commands a room full of men, dressed in a suit, with a perfect afro, and he spoke perfect English with confidence and style. All I wanted from that moment on was to be like Apollo Creed, he was perfect. As a child I remember it was difficult to believe that Rocky could beat Apollo, I clearly remember realizing for the first time that actors were pretending, because there was no way Apollo could lose to Rocky, no way.




By the time we get to Rocky 2 and Apollo is angry, and really trying to put Rocky down, but he still can not, the whole thing became too obvious. The suspension of disbelief this film franchise was asking me to make was too much. By now I had accepted Luke Skywalker using the force, but Rocky beating Apollo was too

much for me, the jig was up, movies were pretend.




Now, its funny to realize that the magnificence of Carl weathers next to Sylvester Stallone made me realize that movies were not real. Carl weathers, Richard Pryor, and Mr T. were the first black actors and role models I had as a child. To me these men filled a void impossible to fill. I love them like a son.

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