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Thank You

Rocky's Impact Still Felt Strong in Philadelphia

By Ari Dinero, Kyle Floyd, Atara Goodman, Ben Kim, Gaby Kim, Mariah Lewis, Michael Simpson, Rachel Style

Listen to this audio essay:

Everyday hundreds of tourists flock the streets of Philadelphia, heading to the Constitution Center, Liberty Bell, or a host of other tourist attractions. However, one site tends to stand out from all the others. Many make it their goal to see the famous, and somewhat infamous, statue of Rocky Balboa, the "Italian Stallion" played by Sylvester Stallone in the 1976 movie Rocky.

Rocky Balboa is a symbol of accomplishment through tough times for the city of Philadelphia. His statue stands outside the art museum and everybody that comes challenges themselves to run up the famed steps, as Rocky did in the movie. After 35 years, Rocky's place in Philadelphia has not changed. The community looks to this statue as an icon for what can be accomplished for anybody if they try their best.

Rocky is perhaps the most iconic figure to those who share an interest and dedication in the sport of boxing. For a population of athletes that understand sacrifice and hard work, the messages and themes in the Rocky franchise are thoroughly understood. Brazen Boxing on 45 North 3rd Street in Philadelphia, is a place of escape for focused fighters, an opportunity for curious beginners, and full of advanced staff in the sport of boxing, as well as martial arts.

The staff at Brazen Boxing all agree that Rocky Balboa was an inspiration to start boxing. Jessica Richmond teaches women's boxing classes at Brazen Boxing twice a week, and notes that the Rocky movies have done much good for the sport of Boxing. "Rocky is a classic movie that draws people in", Jessica says. The movies have been the motivation for many people to start boxing in the first place. "It really sends an encouraging message to people when Sylvester Stallone's character can overcome all odds". Rocky's message has kept boxers believing for years, and has sparked a wide interest in the sport. Because the famous big-screen fighter has done so much for boxing, it is hard to forget how his can do attitude, and fighting spirit represent the whole city of Philadelphia.

However, some boxing professionals believe Rocky has been misleading and harmful for individuals engaging in the sport. Trainer Justin Sargus recalls that Rocky meant a lot to him when he was growing up. The inspiration he attained from the Rocky franchise may have negatively impacted him though. "Rocky made fighters believe that they could take an unbelievable amount of punishment and blows with only a strong heart and soul". Although Rocky means well by giving hope to those are in tough times, his story my not be as probable for some. Justin remarked that the styles of fighting today have resulted in over a dozen surgeries on his body. Succeeding in boxing appears to be more of a physical struggle, than depicted in the movie. However, his mental push, and his ability to endure make Rocky a role model. Rocky was able to overcome what no one else could. "Rocky dreamed the impossible dream".

People around the world have seen the fictional movie phenomenon, Rocky. Philadelphia's famous statue of Rocky has been noticed by tourists from around the world. People from all over our world come and run the famous steps at the Art Museum. Rocky creates a certain type of inspiration throughout the world. David, an employee of the Tour Works Bus Company is always asked about Rocky from visiting tourists, "Where the Rocky statue is in Philadelphia, is always the first or second question from the tourists."

Rocky symbolizes the transition of Philly as a city. Philadelphia has not always been what it is today and the struggle, overcoming, and achieving in the movie shows how Philadelphia is what it is today. Philadelphia has grown as a city by its brotherly love, cleanliness in the parks, and our main tourist attractions. Ian Peacock from the Di Bruno's, quotes "Rocky resembles a little bit of each of us as Philadelphians." This is why people from all over come and see the famous Rocky statue. To them is more than a movie is more as an inspiration that gets them by each day.

Rocky serves as a personal self-esteem builder for many individuals. He is an encouragement through difficult times. Many different people are faced with the challenge of being and underdog. Rocky shows us how to overcome and achieve the impossible dream. Even though he is a fictional character, his legacy has beat the test of time.

Watch more 2011 videos by WHYY's Young Journalists »