- "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 ya grunt and smell. See, be a thinker, not a stinker"
- ―Apollo Creed
Apollo Creed (August 17, 1942 - August 31, 1985) is a tough agile heavyweight boxer and former Heavyweight Champion that starts out as an antagonist, followed by transitioning into a deuteragonist in the Rocky Franchise.
Creed is presented as the undisputed heavyweight world champion in Rocky, he was undefeated and had cleared out his division of challengers prior to his fight with Rocky Balboa, following his split-decision victory over Rocky, Creed challenges Rocky to a rematch in Rocky II, which he loses, losing his world championship and suffering his first career loss. Creed retires after this fight, but he returns to train his former foe, Balboa, in Rocky III following Rocky's loss to Clubber Lang. Creed and Balboa bond over this time, becoming close friends. In Rocky IV, Creed decides to make a one-off return to the ring to fight a Soviet Union boxer by the name of Ivan Drago. The fight is billed as an exhibition, but unfortunately, Creed is knocked unconscious in the second round, resulting in his death
Apollo Creed was born on August 17th, 1942 in Los Angeles County, California, there isn't much information regarding Creed's childhood, but based off Creed's bright intelligence, it is assumed that he had a good education and that his family was middle class. Creed began boxing in 1968 at the age of 26, it is revealed in the video game Rocky Legends that Creed's first ever professional boxing match was against an old Tony "Duke" Evers! At the end of the fight, Creed approached Duke and mentioned how it would be good to have an experienced fighter managing his career and training him, Duke agreed and began training him at the Delphi Boxing Academy! In the coming years, Creed met and married Mary Anne, they had two children together, an unnamed daughter and unnamed son. It is revealed in Creed that Apollo was having an affair around 1984-85, resulting in an illegitimate son being born posthumously, this child was later revealed to be Adonis Johnson Creed.
Apollo Creed first appears as a charismatic, intelligent, and undefeated 34-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 the other top ranked contenders, such as Ernie Roman Buddy Shaw, are either busy or don't believe that they can get into shape in time. Duke suggested he should fight Big Chuck Smith or Billy Snow, but Creed thought Smith was too dull, and Snow fouled too much. Unwilling to waste the time, effort and money he's already invested in the fight, Creed comes up 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 Italian and has a catchy nickname, "The Italian Stallion". Apollo also explains his choice by saying: "Who discovered America? An Italian, right? What better way to celebrate its 200th birthday than to get it on with one of his descendants?". Evers warns Apollo against facing Balboa since he fights left-handed, but Apollo brushes off the idea that he could be anything resembling a legitimate threat, pledging to knock him out in three rounds. Evers raises concern again when he sees Balboa in a television interview, training by punching sides of beef in a meat packing plant - breaking the ribs - however, Apollo puts more effort into giving everyone a good show rather than training for the bout.
For the fight, Apollo dresses up like both George Washington and Uncle Sam in the pre-fight festivities (with his matching trademark "stars and stripes" boxing shorts) is in a jovial mood until Rocky knocks him down in the first round with a single uppercut. It's the first time Creed has ever been knocked down in his career. He then endures a grueling 15-round fight with Balboa, who manages to get to his feet after Creed takes him down with an uppercut in the 14th round in what appears to be the end of the match. This was the first time anyone had ever taken the champion the full 15 rounds.
Both fighters are beaten, bloodied, and bruised by the end of the bout - Rocky with severe eye damage and Apollo with internal bleeding, caused by broken ribs. Apollo gains a controversial split decision victory, and neither fighter wants a rematch.
Creed is first seen in the ER alongside Rocky and a flurry of press, Creed, going against his earlier stance, denounces the fight as a fluke and challenges Rocky to finish the fight right there, which nearly happens when both men get out of their wheelchairs and look ready to brawl, only to be restrained by hospital employees. Later, when things have calmed down, Rocky goes to the recuperating Creed, and asks for Creed to be truthful if he gave his all in the fight against him. Creed replies in the affirmative.
Creed's desire for a rematch with Balboa intensifies when it becomes clear that the prevailing public opinion is that Creed had either gotten lucky, or the judges were fixed in his favor. Evers tries to pacify Apollo that it was he who won by decision. Creed remains frustrated by the feeling that he didn't truly 'beat' Balboa, and continues to be haunted by negative fan mail. Evers pleads with Creed to not fight Rocky again. His reason is that despite the horrific beating Rocky received from Creed, Balboa kept coming after him. Rocky has married his girlfriend, Adrian, after recovering from the first fight, and is not keen on fighting again, especially given Adrian's disapproval. Rocky hopes to cash in on his new fame by making commercials, but this doesn't pan out. Rocky decides he wants to fight again, but is discouraged by Mickey because of an injury to his eye in the first fight. It is not until Creed challenges Balboa to a second fight on Thanksgiving Day, 1976 using various humiliation tactics that Mickey decides to train Rocky for a second fight. Creed insists at the press conference that he would "drop him like a bad habit" and tells Rocky when he leaves "Come November, you're mine!" In a press interview during training, he also insists that Rocky "cannot last five minutes in the ring with a superior athlete like me!" Creed plows through sparring partners and trains harder than ever before, with the intention of punishing Balboa for the embarrassment eleven months earlier.Unlike their first fight, Creed dominates Balboa throughout the second fight, managing to thwart Rocky's strategy of fighting right-handed. Despite this, he is unable to make good on his promise of an early knockout victory, as Rocky absorbs his punches. By the final round, he is well ahead on points and Evers begs Apollo to go on the defensive, as he'll win if he makes it to the end of the match; Apollo refuses, desperate to knock Rocky out rather than win on points. Apollo endures a substantial beating in later rounds, when it becomes apparent he cannot knock Balboa out, and Balboa begins landing his own punches on the tiring Creed. At the beginning of the 15th round he tells Rocky, "You're going down", to which Rocky replied, "No way". After going toe-to-toe for much of the final round, Creed is knocked down by a left from Balboa, with Balboa falling down in exhaustion as well. If neither got up, it would be a draw, keeping the title with Creed. Rocky is able to get up by the count of 9, but Creed is unable to pull himself up and is counted out, losing the match and the championship by knockout, his first professional loss. Apollo retires from boxing soon after. Even though he has lost, he gains his respect from the crowd back since it feels that he fought and lost in a fair fight. The fight also results in Creed finally acknowledging Balboa's ability as a fighter, rather than seeing him as a fluke.
Apollo (39 years old) first appears at the first fight between James "Clubber" Lang, 23 years old, and Rocky Balboa, 34 years old, as a guest analyst, a match in which Lang defeats Rocky by KO in the second round. Before the match, the former champion Creed steps into the ring to greet the fighters. When he steps up to Lang, the latter slaps away Creed's hand and mockingly and rudely insists that he "don't want no has-been in my corner". He further says, "You want to jump, Creed? Jump." When Creed walks away stunned at this rude display from the belligerent challenger, Lang laughs at him and calls him a "chicken". Creed then wishes Rocky luck, telling him to 'give everyone a present' and knock out Lang. Following the match, Rocky's beloved manager Mickey dies.Determined in part to put the disrespectful brute in his place, Creed finds Rocky at Mickey's gym and they agree to have Apollo take over as Balboa’s manager. The pair travels to the 'Tough Gym' in Los Angeles, California where Creed used to train in preparation for a rematch with Balboa. Creed encourages Rocky not to ignore the naysayers that say he is too old, but instead refocus himself. During this talk he states, "Now when we fought.. you had that eye of the tiger." This quote is referred to throughout the movie, including the film's theme song, "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor. Creed mentions that Rocky will owe him "a big favor" once he wins, which he does not specify at first. Rocky's training is geared toward making him quicker and more agile, to counter the larger, stronger brawler. Apollo teaches Rocky how to fight like Apollo Creed. Rocky has trouble concentrating during his training, suffering from guilt over Mickey's demise and self-doubt. Adrian helps Rocky recognize this as a simple fear of losing again and convinces him that he can't let fear control his life and that he has to fight again, not to prove a point, but to live without fear. Rocky agrees and begins to put his fear aside. Creed helps Rocky rediscover the fire inside, which he had lost in the time leading up to the Lang fight, that had won him the title. Creed calls this fire the "eye of the tiger". Before the match begins, Creed expresses his confidence that Rocky will win. He gives Rocky his signature "colors" (Apollo's stars and stripes boxing trunks) to wear during the fight (and tells him to wash them afterwards). Rocky dominated the first round, but the second round is to Clubber's favor with Rocky barely landing any punches. Between the second and third rounds, Creed shouts at Rocky not to test Lang, but Rocky protests he knows what he is doing with the "rope-a-dope". During the third round, Lang is weakened from wasting all his strong punches on Rocky, and is knocked out. Rocky wins the rematch and regains his title as Heavyweight Champion.
Throughout the training, Creed repeatedly told Rocky, "Remember, when this is over, you owe me a favor", but left it at that. After defeating Clubber Lang, Creed reveals the cost of his training - a second rematch with Rocky. However, this fight is not a bloody battle in an arena, but a friendly sparring match at Mickey's Gym. Rocky happily accepts the challenge. The film ends showing each boxer hitting the other at the same time, symbolizing the equality of their greatness.
Rumors of the third fight would persist for decades afterward, but the outcome was apparently not known to anyone but the two fighters until 2015, when, asked by Apollo's son Adonis Johnson Creed, Rocky confided that Apollo had won.
Rocky IV and Death
In 1985, Apollo (43 years old), comes out of a five-year retirement to fight mammoth Soviet Olympic boxer Ivan Drago, who had come to the United States on behalf of the Soviet Union to enter the world of professional boxing. Not wanting the Soviets to appear superior to American fighters, and searching for a return to the limelight and the adoration of the public, the patriotic Apollo challenges Drago to an exhibition match, and calls out Drago at the press conference that sets up their exhibition bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 31, 1985.
Highlighted by a pre-match rendition of "Living in America" by James Brown, Apollo enters the arena from a descending scaffold overhead, dancing to the music in his old red, white, and blue Uncle Sam outfit. With Rocky, Duke and Paulie in his corner, Apollo was overly confident that he could dispense of Drago with ease. However, Apollo was not ready for the extreme size and strength of the Russian. After taunting the Russian and landing a number of ineffectual punches, Creed was pummeled badly in the first round. Rocky wanted to stop the fight but Apollo refused. Apollo told Rocky not to stop the fight "no matter what...no matter what!"
By the start of the second round, Drago continued to pummel Creed with ease. Rocky again tried to stop the fight by throwing in the towel. Apollo told Rocky not to stop the fight, giving Drago a chance to deliver a blow (as Rocky dropped the towel) that unfortunately killed Apollo, who died in Rocky's arms in the middle of the ring. Rocky then sets out to avenge Apollo's death by beating Drago in the Soviet Union, with the Soviet premier and the Politburo looking on. He succeeds as the film ends with Rocky Balboa winning the fight by knockout in the last round.
Rocky V and Rocky Balboa
After Rocky Balboa defeated Ivan Drago, Apollo's trainer Duke congratulated Rocky by showing that he made everyone proud, especially for Apollo by holding up his red, white, and blue trunks. Apollo was thereafter only mentioned briefly in past tenses, including a flashback scene between Mickey and Rocky before Balboa's first fight with Creed where Mickey states "Apollo won't know what hit him". Rocky's pupil Tommy Gunn also claimed to have been a fan of Rocky since his first fight with Apollo, Tommy was eventually allowed to wear Creed's trunks. During Tommy's fight with Union Cane, Rocky commented that it was like his own first fight with Apollo. Later during Rocky's street fight with Tommy, he began to hallucinate and saw images of Apollo's death at the hands of Drago, believing that he was about to suffer the same fate. However a vision of Mickey telling him to get up, gave Rocky the strength to win the street fight.
In the 6th installment of the Rocky franchise, Rocky is seen paying tribute to Apollo by telling customers at his restaurant stories about his friendship and fights with him. During the commentary before the Rocky vs Mason Dixon fight, a montage of Rocky's opponents was shown which included his two fights against Apollo.
In the year 2016, it has been revealed that Creed had an affair sometime before his death, and from that, Adonis Johnson Creed was born. After his biological mother's death
in the late '90s, Apollo's widow, Mary Anne, adopts him. At a young age, not only does he possess the boxing skills of his father, but also his fiery temper. Years later, presumed to be a well-educated young man, Adonis leaves his job to pursue a full-time career in boxing. He first seeks tutelage from Duke's son, "Lil' Duke", who runs the Delphi Boxing Academy. Duke refuses to work with Adonis to ensure his safety. Adonis, to his mother's dismay, moves to Philadelphia to seek out Rocky. While meeting up at Adrian's, Rocky is surprised when Adonis mentions a third fight between him and Apollo that happened behind closed doors, presenting himself to be Apollo's son. Rocky compliments his father's boxing ability and reveals that Apollo won their third match.
When the word got out that Adonis is Apollo's illegitimate son, the media heavily publicized the story of his infidelity, which catches the eye of the trainer for the reigning light-heavyweight champion, "Pretty" Ricky Conlan. Both parties would want the fight to happen, however, on the condition that Adonis would assume his actual name instead of his mother's last name, Johnson, to which he agrees, similar to Apollo's desire to select Rocky due to his nickname: "The Italian Stallion". Leading up to the fight, Rocky has been diagnosed with cancer, which greatly impacts Adonis' behavior, including being incarcerated for the night after a brawl at a club. While Rocky visits him in jail, Adonis angrily blames him for his father's death, while Rocky tries to calm him down and understand Apollo, who isn't there to defend himself. After getting his mind straight, Adonis makes a pact with Rocky that they would both fight their respective battles together.In Liverpool, Adonis receives a gift from Mary Anne; boxing trunks that heavily resembles his father's trunks, who he passed to Rocky, who he passed to Tommy "The Machine" Gunn. The fight presents many parallels to Rocky and Apollo's original fight, with Adonis assuming his trainer's role. Conlan presents an unrelenting attack on Adonis, in which he knocks him down. After a less than stellar introductory round, Adonis finally manages a right hook strong enough to cut Conlan by surprise. In the eleventh round, after an intense flurry, Conlan manages a strong shot that seemingly knocked Adonis unconscious, however Adonis sees visions of his relationship with his girlfriend and Rocky's ailing composure, but finally wakes up after seeing a vision of his father in his prime, which baffles Conlan and the audience.
Before the final round, Rocky is adamant on stopping the fight to save Adonis from the long term effects of his injuries, a decision he contemplated 30 years after Apollo's death. However, Adonis wants to continue to fight to prove that he is not "a mistake". After the revelation, Rocky tells Adonis that, though he's never had the chance to thank Apollo for stepping in when Mickey died, it does not match what he's done for him and that he loves him. In the closing seconds of the fight, Adonis finally unleashes a style that is comparable to his father's and Rocky's, and manages to knock down Conlan for the first time in his career. A split decision determines Conlan the winner of the fight, and gives Adonis the ultimate respect, telling him that he's "the future of this division". During the post-fight interview, HBO Boxing analyst Max Kellerman asks Adonis what he would like to say to his father, to which Adonis tearfully says that he loves him and he knows he didn't leave him on purpose, in which he concludes the interview saying he's "proud to be a Creed".
Personality and Traits
Because the original film was released in 1976 during the reign of Muhammad Ali, it is reasonable to assume that, with Ali being considered the quintessential boxer by having defeated some of the best of the time, Creed was based largely on him, although his public image is more in the vein of Sugar Ray Leonard or Joe Louis.
Like Ali, Apollo was an outside fighter, relying on his speed and power to get through fights. His jab-cross-hook combination were his mainstay, and also just like Ali, Creed's defence was heavily contingent upon his speed. Apollo used Ali's "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" philosophy, being able to bob and weave and frustrate his opponents. A notable difference was that though Creed had Ali's unorthodox hand positioning, he ducked, bobbed and weaved in the classic style, as opposed to Ali who preferred to move backwards, in contradiction to boxing's basic tenets, but with a delightful degree of success. Perhaps the reason for this was that only Ali could do be that unorthodox and look convincing; where most boxing instructors would tell you that you can't land a punch when you're retreating backwards, Ali did that too with alarming regularity.
But just like Ali, Creed was susceptible to taking a lot of damage during fights because of the level at which he held his hands, a fact which ultimately proved to be his undoing. By the second film, he also has the bolo punch (wind up one fist and punch with the other) in his arsenal, which seems to be a result of the punch being used by then welterweight champion Sugar Ray Leonard. This punch, originated by Ceferino Garcia, a world middleweight champion hailing from Philippines, is a variation of the feint. One of the fists is winded up in rather spectacular fashion; the catch there is that the opponent may expect a punch from this hand or, sensing a trap, from the other. Whichever hand the opponent focuses on, the aggressor here may easily throw the other. This is more of a humiliating, crowd pleasing punch. A clear example was seen in the now famous no mas bout between welterweights Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto 'Hands of Stone' Duran.
In Rocky I a reporter asked him if it was a coincidence that he was fighting a white man on the most celebrated day in our country's history; to which Apollo replied, "I don't know about that. Is it a coincidence that he's fighting a black man on the most celebrated day in our country's history?"
Professional Boxing Record
48 Wins (47 KO) 2 Losses 0 Draws
Before the movies:
Tony Duke-Win by way of KO4(1-0)1968
Sam Monroe-Win by way of KO1(2-0)
Troy Miller-Win by way of KO2(3-0)
Joe Adams-Win by way of KO3(4-0)
Virgil Abrams-Win by way of KO2(5-0)
John Barkley-Win by way of KO3(6-0)
John Barkley-Win by way of KO4(7-0)
Maurizio Medina-Win by way of KO1(8-0)
David Cole-Win by way of KO3(9-0)
Jack Jared-Win by way of KO2(10-0)
Jose Mendosa-Win by way of KO6(11-0)
Marco Chaves-Win by way of KO5(12-0)
Luigi Monroe-Win by way of KO3(13-0)
Bob Cray-Win by way of KO5(14-0)
Razor Robinson-Win by way of KO4(15-0)
Big Chuck Smith-Win by way of KO9(16-0)
Salvador Martinez-Win by way of KO1(17-0)
Carlos Arguello-Win by way of KO2(18-0)
Ken Klaasen-Win by way of KO10(19-0)
Alan Jerar-Win by way of KO11(20-0)
George Fullmer-Win by way of KO12(21-0)
Wolfgang Peltzer-Win by way of KO9(22-0)
Bob Cray-Win by way of KO1(23-0)
Floyd (Fantom) McCallum-Win by way of KO13(24-0)25.02.1972-Won Champion Tittle
Franklin Nixon-Win by way of KO2(25-0)
Mike Dallas-Win by way of KO1(26-0)
Floyd (Fantom) McCallum-Win by way of KO1(27-0)07.09.1973
Cameron Whitaker-Win by way of KO3(28-0)
Jared Taylor-Win by way of KO4(29-0)
Shane Letterman-Win by way of KO7(30-0)
Donald Ryder-Win by way of tKO1(31-0)
Kit Yankee-Win by way of KO6(32-0)
Andrew Thomas-Win by way of KO2(33-0)
Antonio Brown-Win by way of TKO9
Gary Khan-Win by way of KO3(34-0)
Quil Hall-Win by way of KO3(35-0)
Paul Burch-Win by way of KO5(36-0)
Vince Kennedy-Win by way of KO9(37-0)
Francis Hellerd-Win by way of KO8(38-0)
Seth Jackson-Win by way of KO1(39-0)
Chak Wepner-Win by way of TKO14(40-0)
Tony Quimby-Win by way of KO4(41-0)
Dewey Stern-Win by way of KO3(42-0)
Billy Calihan-Win by way of KO5(43-0)
Rico Jameson-Win by way of KO2(44-0)
Luigi Monroe-Win by way of TKO2(45-0)
Ernie Roman-Win by way of KO1(46-0)
Carl Hamilton-Win by way of KO3(47-0)
Rocky Balboa-Win by Decision (Retained Heavyweight Title; 48-0)
Rocky Balboa-Loss by KO15 (Lost Heavyweight Title; 48-1)
Rocky Balboa (Informal match, Rocky later claims Apollo won the fight).
Ivan Drago-Loss by KO2 [death] (Exhibition Fight; 48-2)
"Apollo Creed fights the Italian Stallion. HA! sounds like a damn monster movie."
"I WANT YOU!"
"I will end him like a bad habit"
"Come November, you're mine"
"You´re goin' down"
"Raise your hands! IT´S TIME TO GO SCHOOL"
"Remember Eye of the tiger, Rock. Eye of the tiger"
"THERE IS NO TOMORROW!"
"Don't stop the fight, no matter WHAT!"