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Lisa Marie Latino Lisa Marie Latino Lisa Marie Latino
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#HipNJ Speaks With Chuck Wepner (HipNJ Exclusive)

#HipNJ Speaks With Chuck Wepner (HipNJ Exclusive)

#HipNJ’s Lisa Marie Latino had the opportunity to speak with former heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner, who is known as the inspiration for the Rocky movies.

“I lived in Bayonne all my life, and I liked to play sports a lot,” the Jersey native says of his upbringing. Wepner got out of US Marine Corps in 1959 and joined Golden Gloves tournament in New York. He became a Golden Gloves heavyweight champion, a first for anyone from New Jersey. “The rest is history,” he states.

Wepner’s career took off quickly, as he went from training in a gym in Bayonne to travelling all over the world. He fought in England, Tokyo, Puerto Rico and more. “I didn’t try to dodge anybody,” he says on never turning down a fight.

In 1975, Wepner fought Muhammad Ali. “That was the only fight I ever trained for full-time,” he says. “I gave my best shot, but I just wasn’t good enough to beat Muhammad Ali.” The fight, which lasted fifteen rounds, changed his life forever. “After the fight, the world changed for me,” Wepner says. He went into the fight as an underdog, and came out of it as a respected heavyweight.

Shortly after, Wepner retired as the oldest guy in the heavyweight division. To this day, Wepner remains in good health. “There aren’t too many guys left from my era,” he says. Wepner, on the other hand, still goes to the gym. “I consider myself pretty lucky to be in the good condition that I’m in at this age.”

Over the years, Hollywood has taken an interest in Wepner’s story. He provided inspiration for Rocky, and ESPN aired a documentary titled “The Real Rocky” in 2011. “You have to keep yourself alive,” he states. He has done just that, as his fight with Ali is still a topic of conversation.

About a month before Rocky came out, Wepner received a call on which he was told that Sylvester Stallone had written a movie inspired by him. He was invited to see the film, which went on to win an Oscar for Best Picture.

Chuck is a new film featuring Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts and Elisabeth Moss that tells Wepner’s story. He was extremely involved in the production, from casting to going through scripts. The film is currently in limited release, but will soon go national.

Wepner has lived in Bayonne 77 out of his 78 years. “I like it here,” he says, noting the accessibility of both New York City and the shore. He currently works at Carlstadt-based Allied Beverage Group. “If you don’t move, you lose,” he says.

Posted By

Lisa Marie Latino

Lisa Marie Falbo (Latino) is CEO and executive producer of Long Shot Productions, a full-service media production company based in Fairfield, New Jersey. Latino’s career has produced numerous commercial, corporate, and entertainment programs that have taken her throughout the United States as well as Europe. In 2014, Latino co-launched Hip New Jersey a lifestyle program featuring the latest trends around the Garden State. She serves as the television show’s executive producer and host. Hip New Jersey can be seen on HometowneTV, NJ on Air and HipNewJersey.com. Latino has appeared on a wide variety of local television, network cable, and radio shows, including TLC’s Cake Boss, SNY’s Oh Yeah and on WFAN Sports Radio. She also works in-season for the New York Giants Radio Network, and has served as an adjunct broadcasting professor at Seton Hall University. In 2016, Latino added published author to her lofty resume with the release of her debut novel, Ten Years Later. In 2017, “TYL” won Best Fiction at the Independent Authors Book Expo. Latino graduated from Montclair State University in 2006 with a degree in broadcasting and speech communication.

Hip Events

Jun
25
Tue
all-day Passaic Restaurant Week @ Passaic County
Passaic Restaurant Week @ Passaic County
Jun 25 – Jun 30 all-day
Passaic Restaurant Week @ Passaic County
The restaurants participating in the Passaic County Restaurant Week are: Rumba Cubana (Clifton), Thatcher McGhee’s (Pompton Lakes), Dera Masala Grill (Clifton), Opa Greek Cuisine (Wayne) and Mr. Ramen (Pompton Lakes).
Jun
26
Wed
all-day Passaic Restaurant Week @ Passaic County
Passaic Restaurant Week @ Passaic County
Jun 26 – Jul 1 all-day
Passaic Restaurant Week @ Passaic County
The restaurants participating in the Passaic County Restaurant Week are: Rumba Cubana (Clifton), Thatcher McGhee’s (Pompton Lakes), Dera Masala Grill (Clifton), Opa Greek Cuisine (Wayne) and Mr. Ramen (Pompton Lakes).
Jun
27
Thu
all-day Passaic Restaurant Week @ Passaic County
Passaic Restaurant Week @ Passaic County
Jun 27 – Jul 2 all-day
Passaic Restaurant Week @ Passaic County
The restaurants participating in the Passaic County Restaurant Week are: Rumba Cubana (Clifton), Thatcher McGhee’s (Pompton Lakes), Dera Masala Grill (Clifton), Opa Greek Cuisine (Wayne) and Mr. Ramen (Pompton Lakes).
4:00 pm Haddonfield Night Market @ Downtown Haddonfield
Haddonfield Night Market @ Downtown Haddonfield
Jun 27 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Enjoy delicious creations of all kinds from over a dozen food trucks parked along Kings Highway from Haddonfield Borough Hall to the PATCO Speedline in the Downtown. The Haddonfield Night Market is taking place during...
Jun
28
Fri
all-day Passaic Restaurant Week @ Passaic County
Passaic Restaurant Week @ Passaic County
Jun 28 – Jul 3 all-day
Passaic Restaurant Week @ Passaic County
The restaurants participating in the Passaic County Restaurant Week are: Rumba Cubana (Clifton), Thatcher McGhee’s (Pompton Lakes), Dera Masala Grill (Clifton), Opa Greek Cuisine (Wayne) and Mr. Ramen (Pompton Lakes).
Jun
29
Sat
all-day Passaic Restaurant Week @ Passaic County
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Jun 29 – Jul 4 all-day
Passaic Restaurant Week @ Passaic County
The restaurants participating in the Passaic County Restaurant Week are: Rumba Cubana (Clifton), Thatcher McGhee’s (Pompton Lakes), Dera Masala Grill (Clifton), Opa Greek Cuisine (Wayne) and Mr. Ramen (Pompton Lakes).
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Jun 29 @ 7:30 am – 10:30 pm
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Take tunes and tides, throw in some sun, sand and surf, then mix in more than music, family-friendly activities and fabulous food and spread it all out for 12 hours. The result is the fourth...
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