Veteran American movie star Carl Weathers, best known for playing the bombastic heavyweight champion boxer Apollo Creed in the Rocky franchise, has died aged 76. His death was confirmed on Friday by his manager.
“We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Carl Weathers,” the statement read. “He died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, February 1st, 2024. Carl was an exceptional human being who lived an extraordinary life.”
Weathers, who was born in New Orleans on January 14, 1948, initially achieved fame as an American football player.
Following a successful college career, he turned professional in the early 1970s and played with the Oakland Raiders and then the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League.
After retiring from football in 1974, Weathers, who’d earned a bachelor’s degree in drama at San Francisco State University, elected to pursue his acting career.
His big break came in 1976 when he was cast as Rocky Balboa’s original nemesis Apollo Creed in the Oscar-winning movie Rocky, which was written by and starred Sylvester Stallone.
Despite borrowing heavily from the antics of then-heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, Weathers made the part of Apollo Creed his own and reprised the role in three sequels.
Other notable works in his career include Death Hunt (1981), Predator (1987), Action Jackson (1988) and Happy Gilmour (1996).
Weathers also had a glittering television career. He was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series following his role Star Wars franchise The Mandalorian.
Was Carl Weathers a boxer?
Despite convincing performances in four of the Rocky movies, Weathers had no notable boxing experience before playing the part of Apollo Creed.
A natural athlete at 6 ft 1 ½ ins and weighing in at over 200 pounds, Weathers adapted to the sport and training routines required to play the part. Before the shooting of the first movie, he and Stallone rehearsed fight scenes for several weeks in a boxing gym.
Did Apollo Creed beat Rocky Balboa?
In the climactic battle at the end of the first movie, Apollo Creed won a 15-round split decision over Rocky Balboa.
The victory for Rocky in that movie was that he lasted the distance. The fictional Creed entered the bout with a record of 46-0 (46 KOs).
Balboa won the Rocky II rematch via a dramatic stoppage in the final round when both fighters knocked one another down.
What happened to Apollo Creed?
Like many world champion boxers in real life, the character of Apollo Creed struggled in retirement and couldn’t give up the limelight.
Following five years out of the ring, in an ill-advised comeback attempt, Creed was fatally injured by Russian villain Ivan Drago in an exhibition match.