YO! It was 47 years ago when ROCKY was released in theaters. City officials declared Sunday, December 3, 2023 as ‘ROCKY DAY‘ and the box office champ showed up personally! Frank had the honor thanks to his godmother, Judy to meet Sylvester Stallone at age thirteen after she won a RAMBO II contest in 1985 in Hollywood, CA. Frank was an extra in ROCKY BALBOA in 2005 as they filmed in Vegas. What a privilege to reunite with Mr. Stallone at the event in Philly as thousands came in the rain this past weekend. It was a treat to introduce his wife, Ruth and son, Andrew to him and it was also the grand-opening of the incredible Sly Stallone Shop at the base of the iconic Art Museum steps. They have the best merchandise on the planet with all things Stallone! Millions of movie fans love ROCKY not because he never lost but because he never quit! What I love about Rocky is that he was patriotic, persevering and prayed before every fight. When God is in your corner you are a winner in the fight of life. #Absolutely

Incredible job to all who put the historic event on and shout out to Nick (Sly’s assistant), John Rivoli, Stallone Shop, elected officials and the scores of fans who rain or shine know to keep praying and punching! It was a double blessing to connect with Jennifer Flavin-Stallone and see Chevy Chase. I have always been a HUGE fan of his especially “FLETCH” & Christmas Vacation. We were blessed to share with Sly an award for his life and leadership. The first time I had the honor to meet Sylvester Stallone was on Friday, September 13, 1985 @ MGM Studios. My godmother, Judy and I both entered a RAMBO II contest and I am not the sharpest tool in the shed but I knew two chances were better than one and said, “Judy, if I win I will take you. She laughed and said ‘Frankie, if I win I will take you!” Judy won and to her credit she took me a thirteen year old and we won an all expense trip sponsored by Tri-Star Pictures and met the box office champ. Sly had just come downstairs from watching the advanced screening of ROCKY IV. I recall asking him, “Do you think it will be good?” In his trademark booming voice replied, “Yeah, I think it will be pretty good.” It wasn’t good but GREAT! It went on to do over $150 Million in box office receipts and that was four decades ago! When we  met in Hollywood, Judy gave Sly a Bible with his name etched on it. I drew him a picture of RAMBO with the Romans Road on the back on how to come to faith in Christ just in case he didn’t already know. I didn’t know at the time how huge of a artist and art fan he was. Stallone is an incredible artist! I also admire John Rivoli’s ROCKY artwork and we were blessed to meet John both in Hollywood last year and Philly last week. He and his artwork is incredible! To be with Sly on the Art Museum steps was surreal in more ways than one. For years, some art historians didn’t think the ROCKY statue was true art. The irony is that bronze statue inspired more than any art in that building. Over 4 million folks come every year to run up the steps now known as “The Rocky Steps.” It was appropriate that the day rained because when he first started running it was cold and dreary. It will never be a “perfect time” to chase your dreams or answer the assignment on your life however now is the best time to start.

The very first ROCKY movie in the opening scene when the iconic letters scroll across the screen show not Rocky but The Redeemer. It is not a contender but Christ. It is not some boxer but The Bible, Himself. Do you recall the name of the gloomy boxing venue? “RESURRECTION GYM.” At that moment a light came from above to shine on two men battling it out and it was as if Rocky would be anointed and appointed from Heaven to accomplish great things and overcome incredible odds on Earth. It was an honor to meet both Sly and “Spider Rico” played by the late, Pedro Lowell on set in 2005 while filming in Vegas. They were the two fighters in that opening iconic scene of the original movie. It was my honor to catch up with Sly the second time when I was an ‘extra’ for four days in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay as they filmed the final fight scene of ROCKY BALBOA. What a privilege to take another pic with him two decades later just outside the ring after a long day of filming. Sly has inspired me repeatedly in my life from afar and watching up close and Stallone said in a later interview with Pat Robertson @ 700 Club (video below) that we need a crusader who will help get in the ring and fight. Christians are to be in the fight not sidelines and we are at war regardless if you believe it or not. Without question, the ROCKY & RAMBO franchise has blessed me repeatedly over the years. Sly has a God given gift to paint a picture with words and show stories on screen. My parents took me in 1977 at a ‘Drive In’ theater in Maryland in our 1974 Chevrolet Nova to watch the original ROCKY. The car was made two years early for the 1976 Bicentennial and it was the “Spirit of America” edition and it was appropriate because looking back because The Italian Stallion wore the red, white and blue better than anyone. Well, Elvis in that iconic Eagle jumpsuit with cape at the Aloha from Hawaii Concert may have edged him out. Reminiscing, I was in the hatchback of that Nova and for only being five years old and way past my bedtime I resembled Balboa dangling on the ropes but when the bell to start that fourteenth round sounded I was wide awake and seeing him WIN made a huge impact on me.

A couple years later, we were in Ocean City, MD on vacation and didn’t have cable at the time at home but our timeshare at the beach did. Rocky II was showing on HBO and I watched it both times that day and was HOOKED! We didn’t have a VHS or VCR then and everyone is spoiled by Netflix now but those movies touched my heart. I love them all but pound for pound ROCKY II is my favorite. Rocky got married, had a baby and won the belt. That climatic ending in my opinion is one of the greatest moments in Hollywood history with Apollo collapsing through the ropes, a battered Balboa somehow climbed to his feet, won the fight and with the whole world watching gave a shout out to his wife, “First of all I want to thank God and for the exception of my kid being born this is the greatest night in the history of my life. I just want to say one thing to my wife at home, “YO ADRIAN! I DID IT!” The trumpets are blaring and he throws that gold championship belt over his shoulder and with heart smiling but his eyes slammed shut he and Mick hug and end of movie. Incredible! Everyone walked out of the movies feeling like a winner that night! Rocky III & IV, respectively were phenomenal and his body transformation between two and three are legendary. The fifth installment gets a bad rap but honestly has incredible life lessons and it has been an honor to grow as friends with some of the Morrison Family. Sly’s son, Sage Stallone was fourteen when ROCKY V was filmed and Andrew is fourteen when he met the champ on the same steps. Only God could write this script and Stallone is a genius as an actor and writer as well. The famous Philadelphia Art Museum steps that Rocky made famous have 72 steps. I was born in 1972 and looking back it seems his story has been a big part of my life. Over the years, when I am asked what is the difference between Stallone and Schwarzenegger? Thy both are incredible but I share Arnold ‘impressed’ me but Sly INSPIRED me. His whole life was a million to one shot but because of prayer and perseverance he proved he was one in a million. Some say you can’t go back home but it sure was sweet to see Rocky didn’t forget the neighborhood. It was our honor to be on hand and we are forever grateful. Praise the Lord! What a great day and God bless Sly and his family. Thank you, sir for reminding us all to get in the ring and with God ALL things are possible. You are a WINNER and we are so proud of you. Keep praying and punching.

After I posted this blog I noticed John just completed another classic, “THE CHOSEN” capturing perfectly this opening image. Notice Christ at the top, Resurrection Gym banner and Balboa and the other boxer (Spider Ricco) battling it out. The light from above was as if God anointed him to “fight the good fight,” go the distance and remind us all that with Christ in your corner and heart – ALL things are possible (Philippians 4:13).” YO! I ordered a print to proudly display in my office. Sly and John are an inspiration. Enjoy!