CHUCK WEPNER/MUHAMMAD ALI
Coliseum, Cleveland, OH
March 24, 1975
Ali won a 15th round KO
About Chuck Wepner
Born February 26, 1939 in New York City
Currently resides in Bayonne, NJ
Career record: 35 wins (17 KO), 14 defeats (9 KO), 2 draws
"The Bayonne Bleeder", "The Bayonne Brawler"
Wepner was a National Golden Gloves champion, a member of the U.S. Marines boxing team and the New Jersey State Heavyweight Boxing Champion before turning pro. In 1975, he was given the opportunity to challenge Muhammad Ali for the world's heavyweight title. Time Magazine reported that Ali's purse was a guaranteed $1.5 million while Wepner signed for $100,000, much more than he'd ever earned in the ring. Al Braverman managed Wepner, noted cutman Bill Prezant trained him, and Don King promoted the fight. Wepner shocked the world by going the distance, a feat that inspired Sylvester Stallone to write the script for "Rocky". Just 19 seconds of the fight remained when Ali knocked down Wepner and the referee called the fight.
Wepner was a tough competitor, but one prone to cuts and bleeding. After a ten-round loss to Sonny Liston, he needed 120 sutures in his face. In 1976, Wepner lost by a count-out when professional wrestler Andre the Giant threw him out of the ring.
Late in 1985, Wepner was arrested for drug possession and given the maximum sentence of ten years. He served three years before his release on an Intensive Supervision Program, allowing him to live and work outside of prison as long as he maintained an 8 p.m. curfew. After his sentence was commuted in 1991, he rejoined Majestic Wines and Spirits in Carlstadt, NJ, a job he held at the same time he fought professionally. Sober since the day he went into prison, he now lives in Bayonne with his wife, Linda and his three children nearby. Wepner's lawsuit against Stallone for a share of the Rocky profits was finally settled, and he now receives a piece of the profits every time someone buys a Rocky DVD.