Ever since I was a little kid I loved the story of the Rocky films. I have never thought much of Sylvester Stallone at the time, but then I watched a Youtube video (See video below) telling an incredible zero to hero story about Sylvester Stallone's experiences with the first Rocky movie.
Sylvester Stallone's inspiring story is a great example of persistence and dedication that finally results in unimaginable success.
Read the story and let your mind fathom how your dreams can be realized with enough willpower and determination.
Stallone's Zero-to-Hero Story
Not a lot of people know this, but due to complications during labor, the lower left side of Stallone's face is paralyzed, including parts of his tongue, lip and chin. This incident at birth is the cause of his trademark snarling look and his slurred manner of speaking.
For the first five years of his life, Sylvester Stallone lived in an area of New York known as Hell's Kitchen. He bounced from one foster home to another while his parents fought and squabbled endlessly in a bad marriage.
Although he was eventually reunited with them, his troubled past and his oddly paralyzed face made him an outcast among his classmates. He often received suspensions for his frequent fights, poor grades, and behavior problems.
Below Zero Status
His adult life was just as difficult. Hard times and a lack of income resulted in the actor getting evicted from his apartment. As a result he was forced to live on the streets for close to three weeks.
Eventually he came across a casting call for a soft core pornography film; out of desperation he attended the casting call. For two days of filming the actor received $200.
According to Stallone "it was either do that movie or rob someone, because I was at the end, the very end of my rope".
After getting back on his feet he was eventually able to attend college. However, deciding this path was not for him, he left before graduation and moved to New York to pursue an acting career.
He tried out for nearly each and every casting call he could, and contacted as many casting agents as he could find, with no victory. After numerous failed attempts he made the decision to try his hand at writing various screenplays.
After numerous failed attempts he found himself broke once again. In an act of desperation he waited outside of a local liquor store asking people if they would buy his dog; his closest and best friend. In the end someone bought his dog for roughly $50. Stallone was extremely devastated that his life had come to that point.
With options few and far between he began to run out of money. By now he was desperate to get a job but he still was not ready to settle on just any job. He wanted to be an actor and that was what he had his mind set on.
The Hero's Journey to Success
One day as Stallone walked the cold streets of New York City he wandered into the local library to warm up. While he browsed through the many books he discovered some of the best classics by many famous writers which inspired him to work harder on his screenplays and various writings.
In 1975, Stallone saw the Muhammad Ali vs. Chuck Wepner fight. That night Stallone went home, and in three days he had written the script for Rocky. He tried to sell the script with the intention of playing the lead role. However, months passed with enormous rejections from many producers, until eventually someone loved it and they agreed to do the movie.
As poor as he was, Stallone turned down the great sums of money he was offered because he insisted that he must play the lead role in the film. Studios were not willing to cast him in this role because he was a complete unknown, and they wanted a well known star. They told him he was not an actor but a writer.
There is a story that Stallone had been offered more than a hundred thousand dollars for his script as long as someone else could take the lead role, but he refused. He was so sure in his heart that this part was meant for him, and him alone. He refused to compromise.
Finally the studio agreed to allow Stallone to proceed with the film, provided that it was made on a shoestring budget. Stallone accepted the deal and used part of his money to go back to the liquor store and get his dog back.
As you all probably know, Rocky became a worldwide commercial success and Oscar winner. The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards in all, and went on to win the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Film Editing.
The sequel, Rocky II was released a few years later and also became a major success. The film series has grossed more than $1.25 billion at the worldwide box office.
Sylvester Stallone achieved his success because he always believed in himself and his vision. He never gave up and kept trying and trying until he made it.
For me, Sylvester Stallone is one of the best demonstrations of how persistence can overcome all manner of obstacles with impossible odds.
Live Your Dreams!
Photo by Scott D Welch
Sylvester Stallone Best Quotes
"There's a natural law of karma that vindictive people, who go out of their way to hurt others, will end up broke and alone."
"For 'Rocky II,' I got a torn pectoral muscle, I got all beat up inside, I had to have an operation to splice things back together."
"I am not the richest, smartest or most talented person in the world, but I succeed because I keep going and going and going."
"Once in one's life, for one mortal moment, one must make a grab for immortality; if not, one has not lived."
"I've been involved in something which was chaotic and insane. All I can say now is that I am, and intend to stay, a single man."
"Clothing is the first step to building a character."
"When I'm doing a movie, I eat the same thing every day. For lunch, it's tuna salad or chicken salad and cole slaw. That's it. For dinner it's either veal and rice, fish and rice or steak and rice. It gets boring; boy, does it get boring."
"If you express yourself too much, you're considered weak."
"I believe an artist dies twice. The first time, it's just terrible - I've been there when the phone isn't ringing for years."
"I have tons of regrets, but I think that's one of the reasons that push people to create things. Out of their angst, their regret, comes the best from artists, painters and writers."
"When I saw 'Hercules,' my mind just exploded because I was extremely thin; I was insecure. I literally ran out of the theatre and started lifting things, anything I could think of - milk crates. I'm still lifting things. It changed my life."
"If you look at people that have survived crashing in the mountains and lived up in the snow for 40 days - it's possible to do extraordinary feats."
"Don't be gullible, use life before it uses you. Understand there are no free lunches, and for every action you take, there's a reaction."
"I try to combine in my paintings cinematic feeling, emotional feeling, and sometimes actually writing on the page to combine all the different elements of communication."
"When life hits you pretty hard, you can go into a dark corner."
"I believe any success in life is made by going into an area with a blind, furious optimism."
"Life is more than sunglasses and hit movies. Reality - that's the main event."
"I have all kinds of chest injuries; I tore my vein during 'Rocky II' and had 60 stitches. If you've seen 'Rocky Balboa,' you'll know how bad they look."
"Success is usually the culmination of controlling failure."
"I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat."
"I'll always have this blue-collar connection. For every guy, there is an opportunity to be a lot better than he thought he could be. We can't all be the star of the team, but we can be a star in our life."
"I know I'm incredibly unpredictable, and that's the only thing I'm sure of."
"I tend to think of action movies as exuberant morality plays in which good triumphs over evil."
"I'm a patriot of the heart."
Editor and Founder
Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating the next generation of leaders to their true potential.