- "Prediction? ... Pain"
- ―Clubber Lang
James "Clubber" Lang (born May 21st, 1952), also nicknamed The Southside Slugger is an American former professional boxer who competed in the Heavyweight division during the 1980s. He reigned as the undisputed heavyweight champion and acts as the main antagonist in Rocky III.
Lang rose to prominence in 1983 (Rocky III), storming through the ranks and defeating all challengers, Lang accumulated a record of 28-0 before challenging then heavyweight champion Rocky Balboa to a fight, Balboa accepted and Lang knocked him out in the second round to become undisputed heavyweight champion. Balboa would receive a rematch, following training from former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. Balboa would knock Lang out and regain his heavyweight championship, giving Lang his first defeat.
James Lang was orphaned at an early age and spent most of his childhood on the streets of Chicago's Southside, as well as time in orphanages and juvenile facilities. Lang couldn't escape crime as he became an adult and was sent to prison for five years for one possible count of a felony and/or assault charge. In the game Rocky Legends we learn about Lang's prison life and how he discovered boxing. Lang gets into a confrontation with fellow prisoner Jack Jarrell. The two turn out to be scheduled for a fight in a boxing tournament held within the prison, Lang wins the fight and is released from prison not long after.
Lang would then begin watching Rocky Balboa's rise to the top, which began to bother him. He began training, and soon after turned pro.
Challenging Rocky Balboa
Rocky Balboa has become a huge celebrity and a household name since defeating Apollo Creed for the Heavyweight Championship! He has had countless endorsement deals and has made 10 consecutive title defences against opponents that are said to be "Out of Balboa's league" Meanwhile, James "Clubber" Lang has rapidly climbing the heavyweight ranks, winning 26 consecutive fights and earning himself a number one contender-ship fight for the heavyweight championship. Lang wins the fight and is then seen yelling at Rocky’s trainer Mickey, who was in the crowd, saying, "I want Balboa… I want Balboa, you hear me old man, you tell Balboa, NOBODY CAN BEAT ME, you tell him what I said, he's next, I’m gonna kill him, nobody can stop me, you tell Balboa that, I’m coming after him. You tell him!"Lang is displayed as being annoyed at the relative ease with which Rocky wins his bouts. Lang was being interviewed after the fight when he says, "I want a shot at the title, Balboa got the guts he’ll meet me in the ring or anywhere else. My whole life been directed to this title and nothing else, I live alone, I train alone, I’ll win the title alone, I want him, he can’t duck me forever, he can run but he can’t hide". After Lang says this, the sports anchor says that Lang will have to wait since Balboa just defended his title for the 10th time and that Balboa has also agreed to face the World Wrestling Champion Thunderlips, the more he has to wait the angrier it makes Lang. Lang is seen sitting in the stands during Rocky’s exhibition with Thunderlips, he looks annoyed and disgruntled, leaving the match before it ends.
Lang shows up at the unveiling of Rocky’s statue, hanging back in the crowd. Rocky begins his speech and mentions that he is considering retiring. Lang then pushes through the crowd saying "Getting out while you can?, don’t give this sucka no statue, give him guts!!, I told you I wasn’t going away, you got your shot now give me mine!" Mickey responds to Lang by telling him to get the hell out of here, Lang aggressively looks towards Mickey and says "Shut up old man, I ain’t going nowhere" Lang then says "They don’t want a man like me to have the title because I’m not a puppet like that fool up there" Rocky finally responds telling Lang he has a big mouth. Lang then puts his fists up and tells Balboa to do something about it, Balboa proceeds to walk down towards Lang, but Mickey stops him. Lang proceeds to tell everyone that he is the number 1 ranked fighter in the world, also that Balboa has been taking fights from other bums the "easy matches" and that he will fight Balboa anywhere and anytime. Lang continues insulting Balboa saying he isn’t a real man and that he’s a coward, Lang then makes a sexual remark toward Rocky's wife Adrian, causing Balboa to snap and storm towards Lang, causing a small melee that is quickly separated by the surrounding police. Balboa accepts the challenge.
Lang trains the same for this fight as his other fights and does not hire any trainers and works out in a squalid building using an old punching bag, a floor mat, a mirror, and rope attached to a doorway. Lang pushes himself to the limit during his training focusing on strength and power, by doing sit ups, pull ups, punching the punching bag, and boxing in front of the mirror, Lang trains by himself for the entire time in his quiet building, which may or may not also serve as his personal residence. Although not monitored like many other pro boxers, Lang's effort allows him full concentration into his exercise. This is in contrast to Rocky, who rented the lobby of a hotel and is constantly hounded by autograph seekers and souvenir peddlers.
Becoming Heavyweight ChampionBefore the fight, Lang is seen preparing in his locker room, the press have all squeezed their way in and are attempting to ask Lang questions, but Lang isn't having any of it. He is ignoring them and continuing to stick to himself, but with every question that is asked, Lang continues to get more and more infuriated. He tells them to go away, but they don't listen. Lang eventually snaps and hits his locker, followed by heading over to the press and smashing their camera on the ground. Lang leaves his locker at the same time that Balboa does, prompting Lang to yell out to Balboa in the hallway "Ay Sucka, Balboa you through, you washed up." Balboa fires back at Lang which angers him, a brawl ensues and both men try to get through the crowd to get to each other, and during the pushing, Lang pushes Mickey over, this caused him to fall and have a heart attack, and later die. Apollo Creed, guest commentating, enters the ring to shake both fighters’ hands. Creed approaches Lang to shake his hand, Lang slaps Creed’s hand away and says "Get out my face, don’t need nothing you ain’t got no more, don’t need no has-been messing up my corner and you better get that bad look off your face before I knock it off". Creed has a strong disliking to Lang after this and tells Balboa to do everyone a favour and "Drop this chump". When the two fighters meet in the middle of the ring, Lang does not take his eyes off of Balboa, he just whispers "Dead meat
Rocky bursts out of his corner throwing hook after hook and body shot after body shot, the punches seem to have little effect on Lang and when Lang decides to start hitting back, he unleashes deadly hooks onto Balboa, at one stage trapping him in the corner, and throwing hook after hook. The damage of Langs punches begin to show as Rocky has several cuts on his face and a badly bruised eye. The second round is completely dominated by Lang, he unleashes more hooks onto Balboa until he has Balboa stunned, wobbling in the corner, and staring at Lang, as if he to say finish it. Lang loads up and throws a huge right hook, dropping Balboa and winning the fight by KO! Lang won his 28th consecutive fight and became the new Heavyweight Champion.
Rematch with Rocky Balboa
After Balboa agrees to train with Creed, he calls out Lang and asks for a rematch, Lang would respond during an interview on TV by saying "I reject the challenge because Balboa is no challenge, but I'd be more than happy to beat up on him some more". The interviewer proceeds to ask what Lang thought of Balboa being trained by Apollo Creed which he replies by saying "Apollo who? You talking bout that old fool Apollo Creed, shucks, one has-been is enough, all Apollo been doing is running off at the mouth lately and when I see him I’m gonna close it for him." When asked when the fight will take place, Lang says "the sooner the better" he goes on to say that he can’t be beaten and that he will train even harder this time and make sure there is no quick knockdown "I’m gonna torture him, I’m gonna crucify him real bad".
An example that Lang may have lost his focus or just isn't taking this fight as serious, is that he allowed the press in his locker room before the fight, usually, Lang prefers to be alone. Lang is interviewed and is asked for his prediction for the fight. Lang simply says, "Prediction? ... Pain." It's clear that a large portion of the audience doesn't have much respect or love for Lang, he has failed to gain the kind of admiration and respect that Rocky did after he defeated Apollo. Lang is loudly booed by the audience upon his entrance except for a small portion of the crowd that calls themselves "Clubber Fans". On his way down to the ring, a spectator jumps out in front of Lang, prompting Lang to forcefully shove the spectator back into the audience, not caring at all. Lang climbs into the ring and immediately turns his attention to Balboa, playing more mind games and talking trash. Lang calls over to Balboa and says "Ay fool you ready for another beating, you should have never came back" Balboa and Creed choose to ignore Lang and his theatrics, but Lang doesn't stop. Lang then hovers around Creed and starts saying "Ay boy... Ay boy" Creed decides to turn around and Lang proceeds to say "After I crucify him, your next" Creed shakes it off and simply respond with "Just stay out of my face chump." followed by turning his back on Lang, which infuriates Lang, prompting him to say "Don't turn your back on me" and forcefully push Creed in the back, causing a small melee to ensue that is quickly broken up by the fighters corners. Lang and Balboa meet in the middle of the ring, Lang again stares Balboa down, not taking eyes away. Before they separate, Lang tells Balboa "I'm gonna bust you up" to which Balboa responds "Go for it"
Losing Heavyweight ChampionshipJust like the last fight Balboa comes right out of his corner and unleashes a flurry of jabs onto Lang, however, these didn't seem to deter Lang too much physically, but his temper built, and Lang begins throwing hooks wildly, but every hook Lang threw Balboa ducked or weaved out of the way. Lang threw around 15-20 punches in the first round with none of them connecting, while Balboa connected with all of his punches. Lang did not seem fazed by the punches physically. In the second round, Balboa started it just like the last round, hitting Lang with a few punches while once again ducking and weaving Lang’s hooks. Lang finally gets a break when he pushes Balboa into the corner and brutally unleashes with hook after hook, busting Balboa open, Balboa finally gets out of the corner, but Lang still continues to punish him with hooks, knocking him to the ground. Balboa gets up before the 10 count and once again Lang unleashes more punches and knocks Balboa down again. Balboa is able to get up before the 10 count for the second time. Just before the round ends Balboa puts his gloves in front of his face and Lang punches Balboa's arms over and over, trying to break the defence. As the round ends Balboa says "You ain’t so bad, huh? You ain’t so bad" and puts his glove on Langs head and pushes him.
In the third round, Balboa started to block Lang's extremely powerful blows and even started to taunt him as he did at the end of the second round, prompting Lang's temper to build, and prompting Lang to throw even more punches. However, due to Rocky's blocking techniques, Lang's extremely powerful punches weren’t connecting fully and due to fatigue, weren’t doing as much damage, eventually, Lang fatigued severely, being near incapable of landing his blows onto Rocky. Balboa then unleashed punch after punch mainly targeting Lang’s body to gas him even more. Lang would then fall and was unable to get up before the count of 10, therefore suffering his first ever loss and losing his title to Balboa. At the end of the fight, Lang is seen rejecting medical attention for his bloody nose, followed by hanging his head in his lap, clearly disappointed in his loss.
Events after Rocky III
The series has yet to specify Lang's fate after the events of Rocky III and his loss to Balboa. It is unknown if he retired or continued fighting. According to Sylvester Stallone, Clubber Lang later became a born-again Christian and a ringside announcer. In one version of the script of Rocky Balboa, it was planned that Mr. T reprise his role as Clubber Lang, who is now retired from boxing and working as and one of the sportscaster commentators of the Rocky vs. Mason fight. In the proposed sequel to Creed II, the primary choice for an antagonist is Deontay Wilder playing Clubber Lang's son.
Personality and Traits
- "Don’t give this sucka no statue, give him guts!!, I told you I wasn’t going away, you got your shot now give me mine"
- ―Clubber Lang
Clubber Lang was very belligerent and had a violent temper. He argues with people several times in the movie, loves to crash parties and ruin people's celebrations. An example of this is when Clubber provoked Rocky into fighting him while the citizens of Philadelphia were putting up a statue of Rocky Balboa.
In addition to his violent temper, Clubber is extremely egotistical and wants people to know how great he thinks he is. While his fighting style suggests that he is supposed to be like George Foreman, his personality and quest for respect after champions of grace like Apollo Creed and Rocky is similar to how Larry Holmes dealt with the press when he became champion after Muhammad Ali. Another inspiration for the character is Sonny Liston.
In addition to his narcissism, Lang is also overconfident. This is shown when he proclaimed to Mickey that he was unstoppable and that Rocky would never beat him. When he told his opponent that he would knock him out easily like the last time, claiming that Rocky's fighting style was "predictable", this attitude eventually lead to Rocky's victory who used wits and techniques rather than hits. He is also shown to be a sore loser when he was defeated by Rocky, as he was upset and crying alone in the corner.
Clubber Lang, the hard-hitting brawler, has a character which is much like his boxing style: direct, aggressive and brutal. His fighting style and record show a similarity to a young George Foreman and perhaps Mike Tyson (although it would be a few years after the film's debut that Tyson would become a renowned boxer). His quest for respect from pro boxing and the media is similar to Larry Holmes. Also, he is mentioned by a reporter that he is a southpaw like Rocky. However, there is a weakness in this fighting style, as Lang relied entirely on knockout punches, and never made serious effort to study combos or technique. This allows him to fatigue severely if he doesn't make quick work of his opponents, which Balboa exploited in their rematch, knocking out Lang fairly early, in just the third round.
Professional Boxing Record
List of Clubber's fights during the series.
|30||Loss||28-1-0||Rocky Balboa||KO||3 (15)||12/01/1982||New York City, New York||Lost Heavyweight Championship|
|29||Win||28-0-0||Rocky Balboa||KO||2 (15)||15/08/1981||New York City, New York||Won Heavyweight Championship|
Heavyweight Champion (1 time, 1982 - 1982) (defeated Rocky Balboa, lost to Rocky Balboa)
- "Dead meat!" - Clubber Lang to Rocky Balboa.
- "I want Balboa" - Clubber Lang.
- "No, I don't hate Balboa, but I pity the fool, and I will destroy any man who tries to take what I got!" - Clubber Lang.
- "Prediction?...Pain!" - Clubber Lang in reference to his rematch with Rocky Balboa.
- "I'm the baddest man in the world" - Clubber Lang
- "I'm gonna torture him. I'm gonna crucify him. Real bad" - Clubber Lang
- "I'm going to bust you up" - Clubber Lang to Rocky Balboa
- "I'm the champ, I´m the champ and I beat you like last time" - Clubber Lang
- "Getting out while you can? Don't give this sucka no statue. Give him guts! I told you I wasn't going away. You got your shot, now give me mine." - Clubber Lang to Rocky Balboa
- [Screaming] "I want Balboa! I want Balboa! You hear that, Old Man? You tell Balboa to come here! Nobody can beat me! You tell him what I said! And he's NEXT! I'm gonna kill him! Nobody can stop me! You tell Balboa that! I'M COMING AFTER HIM! YOU TELL HIM!" - Clubber Lang to Micky
- [slaps Creed's hand away] "Get out of my face! I don't need no has-beens in my corner. And you better wipe that look off your face before I knock it off. You wanna jump, JUMP! Come on! Come on, Creed! Come on!" - Clubber Lang to Apollo Creed
- [to Rocky Right Before The Final Fight] "Hey fool! You ready for another beating? You shoulda never came back!" - Clubber Lang to Rocky Balboa
- In total, 1,200 people auditioned for the role of Clubber Lang. The role eventually went to Mr. T, which would later become his film debut.
- Clubber Lang was the only villainous role that Mr. T has ever played in his career. Clubber is also the first Rocky antagonist to be considered a true villain due to his ruthless and vile nature.
- Clubber is considered the most vile Rocky villain aside from Ivan Drago.
- Had Rocky not fought Clubber Lang, Apollo would likely have never been killed by Ivan Drago, Rocky would have not been severely injured by Drago to the point of brain damage and Adonis Creed would have stayed in school and not become a boxer. It is also very likely that, had Lang not attacked Mickey, he would have not suffered the heart attack that killed him. It can be argued that Lang indirectly caused the events of all the subsequent movies.
- Most of Mr. T's famous quotes have come from this character, such as "I pity the fool"., which has often been misassociated with his better-known role on The A-Team. However, the phrase was reused in Mister T, an animated cartoon showing a heroic Mr. T who helped kids solve crimes. One piece of merchandise associated with the cartoon was a bookmark with Mr. T saying "I pity the fool who loses his place in this book!"
- One of Lang's most famous moments, when Clubber shouts at Adrian that she should be with him instead of Rocky was actually improvised by Mr. T. Stallone, who was directing Rocky III, liked it and kept it in the final cut because it helped show how despicable Lang was, as well as really drove Rocky to fight again. However, Mr. T's mother was allegedly upset with its inclusion, saying to him at the premiere "I did not raise you to talk to a lady like that!".
- Earnie Shavers was initially the favorite to land the role of Clubber Lang. According to Shavers, Sylvester Stallone called him and told him the role was his once they got a formal audition out of the way. The audition was set up, with Shavers and Stallone sparring. As Shavers tells it, Stallone kept goading him not to hold back and to hit him with everything he had, but Shavers was reluctant to do so. Eventually, after Stallone began to hit him, Shavers lost his temper and punched him under the ribs, doubling Stallone over. Stallone was helped out of the ring without saying a word, and according to Shavers, he never heard from Stallone again. Interestingly however, this story has never been corroborated by anyone involved with the film.
- The rematch with Clubber Lang at the end of this film is the last time in the series Rocky fights for the title. In Rocky IV, the end fight with Ivan Drago is not sanctioned by the American boxing board (a fact that is confirmed by a commentator before the fight). In Rocky V, Rocky didn't fight in the ring. In Rocky Balboa, the end fight was an exhibition bout against the reigning champion, Mason "the Line" Dixon.
- Mr. T looks at the camera and breaks the fourth wall when he delivers the famous "pain" line.
- Rocky makes the exact same mistake as Apollo in the first movie of underestimating an opponent. He invested more time in making a show of the first fight with Clubber Lang that it severely cost him.
- In Rocky II, one of the hate letters to Apollo Creed read: "How much did you get to carry that bum for 15 rounds? You're a disgrace to your people." It has been theorized that this letter was written by Clubber Lang, who at that point was still a relatively unknown boxer. If true, this would explain Lang's hatred for both Apollo and Rocky as seen in Rocky III. It would also make sense considering that Lang's primary hatred for Rocky stemmed from Rocky not "earning" his fame from boxing but rather effectively being handed it by both of Creed's exhibition fights.