In 1976, Rocky won three Academy Awards, including the one for Best Picture. The film is so good on so many levels. Sylvester Stallone wrote the script and starred as Rocky Balboa, a washed up boxer who ends up getting a shot at the Heavyweight Boxing Championship.
Burgess Meredith plays Mickey, the 76 year old trainer and owner of the gym where Rocky trains. In one of the early scenes of the movie, Rocky went to the gym to work out and found that Mickey had taken his locker and given it to Dipper, a young up and coming fighter. Rocky is angry and confronts Mickey.
Mickey: “Dipper’s a climber, a contender — You’re a tomato.”
Rocky: “A tomato?”
Mickey: “Facts is facts. I run a business here, not a soup kitchen. I’m cleaning house…You should think about retiring.”
After Rocky is given the chance to fight for the championship, Mickey comes to Rocky’s apartment. This is one of the most moving scenes of the movie. Mickey has come to offer his services to Rocky as his manager. He tells Rocky about his own fifty year career.
Mickey tries to convince Rocky that he needs help to prepare for his title shot. Rocky needs Mickey’s expertise. Rocky, though, is still smarting from having his locker taken away and given to someone else. Mickey tries to patch things up.
Mickey: “Ya got heart.”
Rocky: “Heart, but I ain’t got no locker.”
As the scene continues, Mickey pleads but Rocky shuts him out. Mickey has never been there for him. Rocky said he needed his help about ten years earlier in his career but Mickey never wanted to help him.
Mickey: “Rocky, I’m seventy-six years old. Maybe you can be the winner I never was—your shot is my last shot!”
Rocky goes into the bathroom and shuts the door on Mickey. A beaten man, Mickey struggles to his feet and leaves the apartment. After a few minutes, Rocky comes out of the bathroom. It is clear that he is experiencing tremendous inner turmoil.
After a few minutes, Rocky runs out of the apartment. He runs down the street to the hunched form of Mickey. Rocky stops him under a street light and puts his arm around the old man. We don’t hear what the conversation is but it is clear that Rocky has decided to take Mickey on the journey with him.
Mickey becomes Rocky’s manager and trainer and prepares him for the fight of his life. Even though Rocky loses the decision, he has gone the distance with the champion. In the sequel, Rocky II, Rocky will win the rematch and become the Heavyweight Champion of the world, with Mickey by his side.
All of us are going on a journey. A good question to ask ourselves is, “Who am I taking with me?” We all need someone that we can share life with. We need people around us that we can learn from and that we can help develop on their own life journeys.
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