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Sylvester Stallone Pays Tribute to Carl Weathers: ‘Apollo, Keep Punching’



Sylvester Stallone is paying tribute to his longtime friend and “Rocky” co-star Carl Weathers, who died Thursday at age 76.

Speaking through a video posted to his Instagram Friday evening, Stallone recalled his longtime partnership with Weathers, through the “Rocky” series and their decades-long friendship. The star gave the message while standing in front of a painting depicting their characters, Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed, squaring off in the ring.

“Today is an incredibly sad day for me. I’m so torn up, I can’t even tell you. I’m just trying to hold it in because Carl Weathers was such an integral part of my life, my success — everything about it, I give him incredible credit and kudos. Because when he walked into that room and I saw him for the first time, I saw greatness. But I didn’t realize how great,” Stallone said. “I never could’ve accomplished what we did with ‘Rocky’ without him.”

“He was absolutely brilliant — his voice, his size, his presence, his athletic ability, but, most importantly, his heart, his soul. It’s a horrible loss,” Stallone said. “He was magic. I was so fortunate to be part of his life. Apollo, keep punching.”

Weathers starred in the first four “Rocky” films as Apollo Creed, who repeatedly faces off against Stallone’s titular boxer in the ring. Though Creed dies in “Rocky IV,” Weathers’ legacy in the franchise lived on in the sequel series “Creed,” which stars Michael B. Jordan as Creed’s son.

Weathers and Stallone reunited at the 2017 Golden Globes, where the duo presented the final award of the night. “I can’t believe it’s been 40 years since ‘Rocky,’” Weathers said, to which Stallone jabbed: “Yeah, and I can’t believe I let you win the fight considering I wrote the screenplay.”

A year earlier, Weathers presented Stallone with an award at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. “He clearly knows that I’m a fan,” Weathers said. “I have such admiration and appreciation for all that very first screenplay allowed me … So what can I say except he deserved the award, and I have tremendous gratitude for being a part of the whole adventure.”

Other stars who worked opposite Weathers over the years took to social media to pay tribute to the late actor, including Adam Sandler and Pedro Pascal.

“A true great man. Great dad. Great actor. Great athlete. So much fun to be around always,” Sandler wrote of Weathers, whose shared credits include “Happy Gilmore,” “Little Nicky” and “Eight Crazy Nights.” “Smart as hell. Loyal as hell. Funny as hell. Loved his sons more than anything. What a guy!! Everyone loved him. My wife and I had the best times with him every time we saw him. Love to his entire family and Carl will always be known as a true legend.”

Pascal, who starred opposite Weathers in Disney+’s “The Mandalorian,” posted a photo of the late actor on Instagram with the caption: “words fail.” Robert Rodriguez, who directed Weathers in the “Star Wars” spinoff series, wrote, “Will miss the great Carl Weathers who I was very fortunate to work with on several occasions. A very kind and generous person. His performances were always electrifying and he was also a terrific director of both stage and screen.”

And Weathers’ “Predator” co-star Jesse Ventura, who would go on to become the governor of Minnesota, wrote on X: “We lost an icon. Carl Weathers was a phenomenal talent, a true professional, and a dear friend. All my sympathies and love to his family. I loved working with him on ‘Predator’ and then celebrating that film with him at various conventions in the ensuing years. Thank you, Carl.”

Born in 1948 in New Orleans, Weathers played professional football before breaking out as an actor with small roles in Arthur Marks’ blaxploitation movies “Bucktown” and “Friday Foster,” as well as TV series including “Good Times,” “Kung Fu,” “Cannon” and “Starsky and Hutch.” His career forever changed when he was cast opposite Stallone in “Rocky,” and Weathers would go on to star alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Predator” and earn a Primetime Emmy nomination for “The Mandalorian,” of which he also directed two episodes.

Watch Stallone’s video statement below.


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