6 things you didn't know about Rocky Balboa on his 40th anniversary

Updated: 

It's Rocky's 40th birthday!

That's right, it has been four decades since, on November 21 1976, we first met Sylvester Stallone's lovable south Philadelphia boxer - who launched both the actor and the town to international stardom.

Even the president of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, Julie Coker Graham, said: "Anytime we are speaking to overseas visitors... the conversation always turns, at some point, to Rocky. They ask, 'Have you met Rocky?' A lot of them think it's an actual, real-life person."

And, let's be honest, there is one scene that no visitor to south Philly forgets to recreate...

But here are a few things about our beloved, sleepy-eyed underdog that you probably didn't know...

1. It was written in just three days.

The story of determination, fighting against the odds and true love was knocked up by Sylvester himself in less than a week. We wonder if perhaps that's why his character was a man of such few (though well-chosen) words.

2. Creators took a gamble on making the film.

Despite earning well over $200 million after its release (making it the highest-grossing movie of the year), the film itself was made with a mere budget of $1 million. It was shot over 28 days with a largely unknown cast - which, at the time, included Sylvester.

3. It won three Academy Awards.

These included best picture, best director (John G Avildsen) and best film editing. In total it received 20 nominations over nine categories - with Sylvester nominated both for his acting and his screenplay.

4. It has received acclaim both in film and sports.

As well as being ranked in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", Rocky was also named one of the greatest sports films ever made. According to the American Film Institute, it's the second best film about boxing, coming in just behind Raging Bull.

5. Sylvester commissioned the Rocky statue, aka one of Philadelphia's top selfie spots.

Roar!
Roar! (Matt Rourke/AP/PA)

As tourists continued to bound up the 72 steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to recreate the end of the famous training sequence, in 1982 Sylvester thought he may as well mark the spot with a statue for the release of Rocky III.

6. There were a total of six sequels.

The Creed crew, with Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson.
The Creed crew, with Michael B Jordan and Tessa Thompson (Matt Slocum/AP/PA)

The character that kept on giving, Rocky was reborn yet again last year in Creed - the story of his mate Apollo's son, Adonis Creed. It isn't a great look for the ageing (and dying) Balboa himself, who takes on a Yoda-esque role, by training Adonis for a brawl. The New York Times reviewed it as a "dandy piece of entertainment, soothingly old-fashioned and bracingly up-to-date".