Bronze Bayonne Bleeder

By Robert Ecksel on April 12, 2019
Bronze Bayonne Bleeder
“They did a great job with it,” said Wepner. “It actually looks a little like me—big and ugly!”

An eight-foot-tall bronze statue of Chuck Wepner, commissioned by an old friend who owns a tire repair shop, is in the works…

“Liston was the biggest puncher I ever fought, but all-around, the most skilled fighter, it was Muhammad Ali by far. It was an honor to fight the guy, and to this day I’m very proud of myself for what I accomplished in that fight.”—Chuck Wepner

Chuck Wepner, aka the Bayonne Bleeder, the former heavyweight contender who inspired an unknown actor named Sylvester Stallone to write the screenplay for “Rocky,” continues to get his due. It wasn’t Wepner’s bloodbath against Sonny Liston in 1970, which earned him a broken nose, broken cheekbone, 71 stitches, and his memorable nickname, that inspired the fledgling screenwriter. It was his fight five years later against Muhammad Ali, who Wepner put on the canvas in the ninth round of their championship fight, which made him a hero to underdogs everywhere.

Although a punch didn’t dropped Ali, it was ruled a knockdown, and Wepner was ebullient.

“I headed back to my corner and said, ‘Start the car,’” Wepner recalled, “‘we’re going to the bank, we’re millionaires.’ And my manager said, ‘You better turn around because he’s getting up.’”

Ali not only got up. He picked up where he left off and stopped Wepner in the 15th and final round.

Wepner’s glory was short-lived, but glory it was. He continued to fight for three and a half years after the Ali bout, winning five of his last nine fights, before retiring in 1978 with a 36-14-2 (19 KOs) record.

Wepner resumed his former life as a liquor salesman and made some poor choices along the way for which he was punished. But having mellowed with the years, and still an inspiration, he has been the subject of two feature films and a documentary, which isn’t half bad, all things considered.

And now, to add to his laurels, an eight-foot-tall bronze statue of Chuck Wepner, commissioned by an old friend who owns a tire repair shop, is in the works.

“I think they did a great job with it,” said Wepner. “It actually looks a little like me—big and ugly!”

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Muhammad Ali vs Chuck Wepner 1975-03-24

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  1. FrankinDallas 05:46pm, 04/15/2019

    Wepners statue may develop stigmata….he would be made the patron saint of bleeders.

  2. 30 Days In The Hole 06:48am, 04/13/2019

    Wepner certainly never backed down from anyone. He took on Joe Bugner in his next fight after Liston. I don’t think Bugner ever looked better. He busted Wepner up and the fight was stopped after the third round due to a bad cut of course. The fight is on YouTube along with Wepner’s fight with Duane Bobick. Bobick would stop Wepner on cuts as well.

  3. Lucas McCain 01:45pm, 04/12/2019

    Chuck may have been a pain to live with, as one film suggests, and his knockdown a bad call (it was no Tony Galento shot), but his quoted comments always make him sound like a good guy, happy to praise superior fighters like Liston or Ali.  He took a lot of lumps in his time both in and out of the ring and I can’t begrudge him any honors.  I’m sure my tax dollars have gone to worse places (think “shock and awe” or jet flights to various golf courses and country clubs) than to building statues.

  4. Chooglin' On Down To New Orleans 09:57am, 04/12/2019

    Man, Wepner has rode that one fight with Ali for better than 40 years and counting. Going the distance with Ali was no biggie at that stage Ali’s career, just two years later, Alfredo Evangelista pulled it off. And unlike Rocky vs. Creed, the Ali-Wepner fight was largely a snoozefest. Not to mention that Stallone also “borrowed” some things from the lives of other boxers like Frazier, Foreman, ( Foreman had a wife named Adrianne)  and of course Marciano. And Balboa sounds quite similar to Rocky Barbella aka Rocky Graziano. Wepner even claimed that Stallone “borrowed” from his life story when Stallone made the movie. “Lock-Up.”  I can’t remember the details but I think Wepner claims that Stallone got the idea for a prison flick after hearing about or seeing Chuck in the pokey. Speaking of statues. Corrupt former mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, announced back in 2017 that Atlanta would honor Evander Holyfield with a statue in downtown Atlanta. Taxpayers paid nearly 100,000 dollars for a bronze 9 foot statue of The Real Deal.  Good gawd, the thing doesn’t even look like Holyfield that much to begin with, and it has been sitting in a crate in some warehouse for over a year. Good to know that your money is being put to good use out there.

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