Muhammad Ali surprising Sylvester Stallone at the 1977 Oscars will never get old

  • Tom Ward

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali surprised Sylvester Stallone at the 1977 Oscars by creeping up behind him onstage.

The Hollywood actor wrote, directed and starred in the cult film ‘Rocky’ before being nominated for his leading role in the 1976 classic and rocked up to the Academy Awards dressed in a white shirt and black tuxedo to present the Best Supporting Actress award to Beatrice Straight for the movie ‘Network’.

But he had a little help from ‘The Greatest’ who gave him quite a fright as he hilariously loomed over his shoulder.

They then had a bit of a playfight before resuming their official duties.

It was later revealed that the pair had come up with the plan on the spot after being asked to present the award together.

WATCH: Muhammad Ali surprises Sylvester Stallone at the 1977 Oscars

Check out the video below…

It’s no secret that Ali’s fight with Chuck Wepner in 1975 ultimately provided the spark that led Stallone to write ‘Rocky’.

No-one expected Wepner – known as The Bayonne Bleeder – to last as long as he did, but he almost went the full distance with Ali.

Wepner even managed to knock Ali down in round nine, before hitting the canvas himself for the last time moments before the bell rang at the end of the final round.

In an interview with GQ Magazine in 2018, Stallone said: “Chuck Wepner was basically a guy who everybody considered a joke.

“He was known as the Bayonne Bleeder, and it was clear that his only notable contribution to the history of pugilism would be just how badly Ali would destroy him.

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“No one considered whether he could win the fight, that was out of the question, but everyone was wondering just how much of a beating he’d take — and how long it would last — and how much pain he’d absorb before he crashed to the canvas.

“The odds on Wepner were basically a zillion to one, and they couldn’t even take bets on the fight.

“So I’m sitting there watching the fight, with an especially bloodthirsty crowd, and it was terrible. The guy didn’t even look like a fighter. He was terribly awkward and unskilled, and he looked like a heavy bag with eyeballs. It was really sad. Then, all of a sudden, something incredible happened.

“From nowhere, Wepner knocked down the immortal Ali.

It was like a bolt of lightning from some Greek god in the sky, and, almost instantly, Wepner became the crowd favourite- in a matter of seconds.

“Suddenly, he went from being a complete joke to being somebody whom everybody watching could identify with – because everybody’s thinking, ‘Yes, I’d like to do that! I’d like to do the impossible, even if only for a moment, and be recognized for it – and have the crowd cheer.’

“So it made everyone think to himself, ‘If this totally inept guy can put down Muhammad Ali, who knows what I can do.’

“So I’m sitting there watching all this, and at some point I realize that the whole thing’s a metaphor, and I realized that it wasn’t really about boxing.

“Actually, Rocky was never really about boxing, it was about personal triumph.”

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