Sunday, February 21, 2010

Black History Month Heroes - Apollo Creed from "Rocky"

Sports. They provide us with moments of ecstasy that we will cherish forever. Living vicariously through the exploits of other men grants us the courage to continue our mundane, rootless, rudderless and seemingly meaningless existence, for the day-to-day chore of life would be difficult sans the momentous memory of "that one play."

Everyone who watches sports has "that one play"which sticks out from their other memories of the thousands of unproductive hours spent watching others compete and stands alone as the pinnacle moment.

Whether it was Michael Vick evading would-be tacklers and racing effortlessly away from the pursuing defense for a jaw-dropping touchdown; Michael Jordan or Larry Bird stroking in jump shots over the outstretched hands over a never-ending sea of defenders; or that last second field goal that sailed through the uprights, granting victory to your team and the ultimate defeat to the opposition, sports provide memories that leave an indelible mark.

Sports provide an escapism from the trappings of life and give us a reprieve from the ostensibly insignificant daily tasks, where we can fondly recall "that one play" to help keep us going. This was illustrated beautifully in the underrated 2006 film Invincible, the true story of a 30-year-old who ends up playing in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Vincent Papale was that player, and when it appeared he might get cut, his father told him the importance of "that one play":
Frank Papale: You know how I used to tell you about Van Buren scoring that touchdown back in '48?
Frank Papale: Yeah, I know.
[waving hands]
Frank Papale: I know. That touchdown got me through 30 years at that factory. Got me through all those times your mother being sick. When I told you not to get your hopes up... didn't mean that I wasn't.
Black History Month provides us with few to many actual events, people, inventions or innovations to recall and celebrate, so we created fictional Black History Month to fill that void. And today, with the notion of "that one play" echoing without end, we honor a pugilist of the highest order, Apollo Creed.

From the quintessentially American series of the fighting underdog given that one last chance to prove his worth, Rocky, Creed is the personification of the dream some view as uniquely American.

An articulate, brash, highly intelligent, savvy, marketable Black man with a high sense of pageantry matched only by his intense business acumen, Creed appears to be cut from a different genetic cloth than most of the boxers who live in the real world - our world:

Apollo Creed is far more than a clown. In fact, for many of us in 1976, black and white, especially us Muhammad Ali fans, he was a heroic, awesome figure. The movie shows him to be a businessman and a master marketer, the brains behind his operation, which happens to employ exclusively African Americans. He is Ali without the baggage -- a clean, polite Ali -- whose braggadocio is transparently for show. He advises kids, "Stay in school and use your brain. Be a doctor, be a lawyer, carry a leather briefcase. Forget about sports as a profession. Sports make you grunt and smell. See, be a thinker, not a stinker." And, in a twist on our normal expectations, it's the black man who gives the white man a chance to rise above his station.

And, as people might tend to forget, Creed defeats Rocky. The white man overcomes his own doubts and demons, and gives Creed the fight of his life, but the black man wins.
In the world we inhabit, it is always the white guy giving the Black guy the opportunity or chance to make a difference (think Michael Oher). Yet in Rocky, the story revolves around a washed-up white boxer granted one last opportunity thanks to luck and, more importantly, Apollo Creed's business-sense to create a Cinderella-story that all sports fans salivate to see:

Apollo Marvin Creed first appeared in the 1976 Oscar-winning film Rocky as the charismatic, intelligent and undefeated 33 year old World Heavyweight Champion. A planned Bicentennial fight against number one contender Mac Lee Green was scheduled for January 1, 1976, which Apollo gladly hypes whenever someone places a microphone in front of him. However, Green hurts his left hand in training, and when none of the other top ranked contenders, such as Joe Czak and Buddy Shaw, step up to face the champion, Creed responds with a promotion that will generate huge publicity. He will offer an unknown local fighter an opportunity to battle Creed for the title, in a match in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Upon reviewing the local boxers in Philadelphia, Creed is drawn to a club fighter named Rocky Balboa because Balboa is Caucasian and has a catchy nickname, "The Italian Stallion." Apollo brushes off the idea of the left-handed Balboa giving him a fight, pledging to knock him out in three rounds. In spite of his trainer's concern when he sees Balboa in a television interview, training by punching sides of beef in a meat packing plant, Apollo puts more effort into giving everyone a good show rather than training for the bout.

Apollo Creed picked Philadelphia for the fight against the hometown white boy for pure, profit-driven reasons, as he reasoned a battle between the embattled Rocky Balboa and himself would create the iconic "David v. Goliath" fight everyone wants to see:
[Apollo is looking thru a book of Philadelphia fighters]
Jergens: What exactly are you looking for Apollo?
Apollo Creed: This is who I'm looking for. The Italian Stallion.
Jergens: Rocky Balboa? Never heard of him.
Apollo Creed: Look it's the name man. The I-talian Stallion. The media will eat it up. Now who discovered America? An Italian right? What better way to get it on than with one of its descendants?
Apollo's Trainer: He's a southpaw. I don't want you messing with southpaws. They do everything backwards
Apollo Creed: Southpaw nothing. I'll drop him in three. Apollo Creed meets the Italian Stallion. Now that sounds like a damn monster movie.
Apollo Creed defeats Rocky in the first film of the series, only to lose the championship in a re-match in the second film. He successfully trains Rocky to defeat Clubber Lang in the 3rd film and dies at the hands of doped-up Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, but his journey into the fictional Black History Month Heroes titans is confirmed by one unifying theme that pervades each film - Apollo is fabulously wealthy and he stays that way through the unique manner of saving money for the future, an act Black people and sports figures aren't particular known to perform.

The well-tailored, sinewy Creed has a vast entourage, but lacks any of the vices that haunt other sports stars and help doom them to lost fortunes of such unimaginable wealth that would even leave King Solomon envious of, and unlike Rocky in Rocky V, he manages to make fantastic investments that protect and insulate his family (Rocky goes bankrupt in Rocky V, but is able to recuperate his losses in the films denouement, Rocky Balboa).

Creed stands apart from other boxers, real pugilists who garnered untold fortunes only to squander them away in furious fashion. Pro athletes, as Sports Illustrated chronicled for us, have a tendency to stray from the sound financial advice that Apollo Creed followed and instead, opt for economic enslavement and bankruptcy:

What happens to many athletes and their money is indeed hard to believe. In this month alone Saints alltime leading rusher Deuce McAllister filed for bankruptcy protection for the Jackson, Miss., car dealership he owns; Panthers receiver Muhsin Muhammad put his mansion in Charlotte up for sale on eBay a month after news broke that his entertainment company was being sued by Wachovia Bank for overdue credit-card payments; and penniless former NFL running back Travis Henry was jailed for nonpayment of child support.

In a less public way, other athletes from the nation's three biggest and most profitable leagues—the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball—are suffering from a financial pandemic. Although salaries have risen steadily during the last three decades, reports from a host of sources (athletes, players' associations, agents and financial advisers) indicate that:

• By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

• Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.

Worse though, is the fate of Black boxers not named Apollo Creed, for they spend money faster than Brewster's Millions and live impoverished lives in their twilight years:

It appears even multi-millionaire fighters are feeling the biting effects of the credit crunch.

Evander Holyfield is once again facing foreclosure on his Georgia mansion and the news has sent a wave of disbelief and dismay through British boxing.

The sprawling, 109-room house on Evander Holyfield Drive, south of Atlanta, was due to be auctioned last June but Holyfield struck a deal to remain in the property.

However, the $10m manor is now due to go under the gavel on 7 July at the Fayette County Courthouse.

An Olympic bronze medallist in 1984, Holyfield participated in some of the biggest bouts of all time and is reputed to have earned over $200m in the boxing ring.

Yet his present financial predicament sees him join the legion of legendary fighters whose fortunes have dwindled, or who have fallen on hard times.

From old-timers, like the great Sam Langford, who ended up blind and broke, and Joe Louis, who went to his grave with the IRS still in dogged pursuit of a tax claim, to modern-day champs such as Mike Tyson, boxing's rich history appears to serve as a cautionary tale of how not to manage money.

Mike Tyson losing more than $120 million. Evander Holyfield more than $200 million. Black boxers going bankrupt is nothing new, as Riddick Bowe forced to sign autographs at flea markets and yard sales, despite $15 million once in the bank:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Amid all the items to be discovered at the Meadowlands Flea Market on Saturday, past the kettle corn and between the $2 leather belts and the $1 bottles of shampoo, was a two-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

Riddick Bowe sat on a folding chair behind a card table that straddled two parking spaces, labeled in chalk as Nos. 264 and 265. Most people sauntered past, holding bargains in a bag or grilled meat on a stick, not recognizing the large man who waited for someone to come see him.

“The champ is here!” Darren Antola, who set up the autograph session, called out, like a carnival barker. “He beat Evander Holyfield two out of three times!...

“Somebody I can whoop,” Bowe said. He smiled. She laughed. Then she bought an autographed picture for $35 that she intended to frame for someone named Pete. And Bowe, who said he had $15 million when he retired in 1996, thanked her.

A man working a stall behind Bowe watched.

“All those millions of dollars, and they’re gone,” the man said, and it was not in the form of a question, but a fact, readily apparent. “It’s a sad story.”

Antonio Tarver, another talent Black boxer, filed for bankruptcy. Holyfield though, has numerous women to pay child support for, as he found having children with more than one woman a splendid operation. $200 million lost for a decade of fine living though!

Mike Tyson found the life led by Apollo Creed to be one of pure fantasy and indulged in a joyous romp of fun that left him in a financial "hangover":

For the former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, a cash machine to himself and to others, record earnings in the boxing ring became a license to spend — on jewelry, mansions, cars, limousines, cellphones, parties, clothing, motorcycles and Siberian tigers. Despite making about $400 million over the past 20 years, Tyson managed to squander his fortune.

One of his most recent extravagances came on Dec. 22, when Tyson walked into a Las Vegas jewelry store and picked up a $173,706 gold chain lined with 80 carats in diamonds. But he never paid for the fabulous jewelry, which is among the $23 million in debts specified in the Chapter 11 petitions he filed Friday with the United States Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.

Tyson's free-spending past made him creditworthy at Jewelers Inc., which he departed without paying a cent for the diamonds. "Knowing him for so long, I gave him the merchandise and knew he'd pay later," Mordechai Yerushalmi, the store's owner, said by telephone yesterday. "He had open credit with me." He added: "He's been through his ups and downs. He will make good on it."

That may not be easy. At 37, Tyson's boxing skills are diminishing, and so is his earning power; he could once command $30 million for a night's work. His future earnings and the future proceeds from the sale of a Connecticut mansion will go to pay a $9 million divorce settlement to his ex-wife, Monica Turner. She also has a lien on Tyson's Las Vegas estate, which is beside Wayne Newton's.

Name the boxer and inevitably a tale of financial woe will follow, save Apollo Creed. He died in the middle of the ring, during an exhibition bout with an evil Communist from Russia, but he went to his maker a rich man. Stuff Black People Don't Like finds the example of fiduciary prudence exercised by Apollo Creed enough to warrant inclusion in the fictional Black History Month celebration. That Carl Weathers is one great actor.

Even Rocky fell victim to financial misery, but not Apollo though. Movies once again provide us an escape from reality, for Black athletes do go broke in real life. Those same players who perform the incredible feats that comprise "that one play" sadly end up living on only those memories and nothing else.


Anonymous said...

Ive never understood how whites could be so racist. I was in sweeden and convicted of drug crime I didnt commit. I was in jail for four years and pretty much everyone in there was racist. On the forth year a few months before I was scheduled to leave a couple of skinheads came into my cell when I was a sleep and said they were going to give me a little going away present I will never forget. Those last few weeks really changed my life. But I dont hate or view white people as inferior because what a few of them did to me that left me in wheelchair for life.

Derick Feathers

Stuff Black People Don't Like said...


Sorry to learn of your drug arrest in SWEDEN...
however, this article is once again based upon fact, or, hate facts.

Pro Athletes go bankrupt quite often (white or Black). However, since the NBA is overwhelming Black and the NFL has a similar racial makeup, this means that Black athletes go bankrupt at much higher rates.

Rocky went bankrupt in Rocky V. Apollo Creed died a rich man, unlike most Black Boxers in real life.

Sadly, fiction isn't reflected in real life. Thus, why Apollo Creed is a fictional Black History Month Hero.

There are many white people who fall victim to Black criminality (as you are purportedly a victim of Swedish malice).

May you live a life of peace, after your "ordeal".

Anonymous said...

Why does the owner of this blog make it appear a certainty that blacks will - or are now - running USA when it is apparent that most of them are personally bankrupt or close to it?
Nearly all of the wealth in this country is not in the hands of blacks, for sure. Even when with buy black campaigns most successful advertising is based on white preferences. In personal aesthetics as well, the white standard of female beauty is dominant. Perhaps as you have indicated the prowess of blacks in certain ball sports is undisputed but that prowess does not translate into social dominance. So why do you believe in BRA? Just to make an argumentative point?

Anonymous said...

From a fan - can you return to posting some funny/satiricle stuffblackpeopledontlike stereotypical but still pretty true posts instead of long long political rants and evidence to back it up (I don't mind the evidence), kinda thing, like when you started out, as a satire off of stuffwhitepeoplelike? Post whatever you want, of course, including long political thoughts, but as a fan of your website, especially the early stuff, I would greatly appreciate that somewhere in there every now and then were more stuffblackpeopledontlike short, funny, satirical lists that were actually satirical and funny, while still true and poignant, like in the good ol' days of the site. My only guess (just a guess) is that you ran out of funny but true stereotypes, as you have covered all the ones I can think of. But that is just what I would like to see. Thanks - a fan.

PS - my favorites - the grillz, tipping, big butts (I like big butts too - latinas are great!), making it rain, crazy attention cars, camping, stuff like that. I like the humor of the site more than the politics of it.

Ok, thanks for all of your time dedicated to this site!
Sorry Derick for that in Sweden, sounds shitty...


Stuff Black People Don't Like said...

From a Fan,

Thanks for the comment. Don't worry. I have a list that is growing daily, that now includes over 400 entries to do.

This month is dedicated to Fictional Black History... I have to post about 10 new ones. After this month, I'll make a deal with you. I'll do one serious one and alternate with one funny one.

Yes, the site has evolved since its inception and will continue to do so, but it's always important to listen to your audience.

Don't worry. We haven't run out of anything!

We'll get back to the humor in posts.

Stuff Black People Don't Like said...

Black Run America is not that difficult an idea to wrap your head around. I will create a post that rundowns the statistics of BRA for all in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thank you so much (I'm the fan that posted above) - Thanks for responding and listening to me, that's really cool.
Sounds like a great deal!
And by all means do your fictional black history month, I like the satire that that conveys. And I liked your new stepping post, I definitely was subjected to that in college and was made to watch a glorified patty-cake routine many times (really?).
But again, thank you very much for responding to me and listening to me. I am a much bigger fan now. You are awesome. And I look forward to the rest of fictional black history month, and the upcoming humorous posts, and will definitely read your political thoughts as well if they are accompanied by humorous posts as you say. That's an awesome deal, given to a random fan over the internet. I didn't expect that. You're great.
I know you have 400 entries to write, but here's one that bothers me as an English teacher (maybe you covered it already, I'm not sure) - why don't they conjugate their verbs? What is so wrong with verbs that they shouldn't be conjugated correctly? And when is it appropriate to conjugate the verb incorrectly, as in "I is..." and when should you just not conjugate it at all, as in "I be..." But basically, what's so bad about verbs that they should not be conjugated (which is a large foundation of ghetto speak, among other grammar errors)? Why don't they like verbs? Why that be?

If I didn't miss it somewhere I hope you do a post about the English language.

Again, thanks for all of your dedicated time!

Anonymous said...

So, sorry I have no idea where to send you a topic. This is the wrong place. But in college I attended cross-cultural meetings and was faced with large groups of angry blacks talking about how if there was a white person in the dorms that talked about going on a "picnic" that was extremely racist and could possibly result in violence towards the person that said "picnic". That is because there was an email rumor that said "picnic" is a word that resulted from slave times when it meant "pick a nigger" to pick a black person to lynch. And according to this cross-cultural exchange in the US, there are violent consequences to having a picnic. showed this to be a silly email rumor, with the word picnic existing in at least French before the USA existed (and simply meant a normal picnic)... but the angry blacks at the cross-cultural dialog between university campuses insisted that having a picnic was racist and implied that a white person wanted to lynch a black person, and that they were very angry at white people about this, even if the white person had no idea about this email rumor.

The notion that black people can't be racist as being ridiculous is done very well by stuffblackpeopledontlike.

And why are they so angry all the time? Society is not out to get you! Just study and be chill and do something productive with your life and stop blaming everything on everyone like a child without McNuggets or a teal car. And conjugate your damn verbs! What's wrong with verbs in English? I conjugate my verbs when speaking in Spanish, and try to do so well, to respect the language. If I wanted to speak Swahili, I would also try to speak the grammar correctly. WTF?

Stuff Black People Don't Like said...

Anon at 11:17 -

You are welcome. To contact SBPDL, write to

I try and answer all the email I can, so don't hesitate to write with suggestions!