What distinguishes public art is the unique association of how it is made, where it is, and what it means.” —The Association for Public Art
To many, the names “Rocky Balboa” and the “Italian Stallion” are as universal and front of mind as the names “Chuck Wepner” and the “Bayonne Bleeder” are regional and tucked into (or have already fallen out of or never made it into) the recesses of memory. But this writer is not most people. Though aspiring to be a child of the universe, I am at heart still a ten-year-old kid from Bayonne, New Jersey, at the south end of Hudson County who (in 1975) thought a guy from our neighborhood was about to pull off the greatest upset in sports history (at least in the pre-Miracle-on-Ice/before-Jimmy-V era).
You see, in the 9th round of the heavy weight championship fight that would inspire Sylvester Stallone to write Rocky (and Chuck to sue him on a right of publicity claim that later settled), Chuck Wepner knocked down Muhammed Ali (Really, you can see it for yourself). Though Chuck’s dreams of wearing the crown and earning lots of money were short-lived after the GOAT got up furious, everybody in Bayonne (and wherever Stallone was) felt like a million bucks during those few moments of believing—including both the struggling actor and a ten-year-old that would later write for an IP blog. But this isn’t about Wepner v. Stallone—this is about what curiously happened more recently when Chuck Wepner’s hometown wanted to honor him in various ways. Continue Reading