Sylvester Stallone Thought ‘My Career Is Over’ After ‘Rocky II’ Injury Tore His ‘Pec Off the Bone’; He Saved the Film by Boxing Right-Handed: ‘We Don’t Quit’

Sylvester Stallone revealed on the TMZ special “Arnold & Sly: Rivals, Friends, Icons” (via The Daily Mail) that a near career-ending injury in the lead up to “Rocky II” threatened to end the boxing franchise before its first sequel got off the ground. Stallone was training with bodybuilder Franco Columbu about a month and a half before the “Rocky 2” shoot when he ripped his pec muscle right off the bone.

“So, I go down, and it’s maybe only 200 [lbs]. I’m just warming up, and I hear a POW!’ Stallone remembered. “I fall on the floor. And Franco goes, ‘Let me see.’ He jams his fingers — I’ve torn my pec off the bone. I mean, bad. I could hear it go rip, and he’s jamming his fingers. And I think I’m going to black out.”

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“I go home. I feel like my career is over. I’m supposed to start ‘Rocky II,’ direct it, everything in a month and a half,” Stallone continued. “Here’s the difference — and [Schwarzenegger] would have done the same thing. … I can’t use this arm, so I’ll change it in ‘Rocky.’ He’ll fight right-handed.”

“Rocky” fans may have wondered why Stallone’s character suddenly has eyesight problems in the sequel and is forced to learn how to box with his right hand in order go fight Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). It turns out that wasn’t Stallone’s original plan for “Rocky II” but was simply the result of Stallone not being to box with his left hand due to the injury.

“Completely illogical,” Stallone admitted about the plot twist. “But I said, ‘I’m not stopping this movie just for this.’ And this was a bad injury … I switched arms. That was one of the key things. But it’s interesting the way these incredible journeys happen. But we don’t stop, we don’t quit.”

“Rocky II” opened in theaters in June 1979 and made $200 million at the worldwide box office to become the third highest-grossing movie of the year. It proved Stallone had a hit franchise on his hands after the 1976 original “Rocky” proved to be a sleeper hit and won the Oscar for best picture.

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