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Sylvester Stallone Success Story

Sylvester Stallone has been one of the most recognized names in Hollywood over the past four decades. And it all started with a simple story of a down and out dock worker named Rocky. A nobody who was given an opportunity of a lifetime and seized it.

Since then, Sylvester Stallone, and his series of movies revolving around Rocky have been inspiring people all around the world.  Not surprisingly, Sylvester Stallone’s real life story is every bit as motivating and inspiring as the fictional Rocky character he created.  As you’ll soon see, Sylvester Stallone’s life story is also a success story. His success story is one that should be observed, retold, and shared, just as much as his movies are. Why? Because success leaves clues.  So, that’s what we intend to do in this post today; share his inspiring rags to riches story and hope you takeaway something to help you create your own success story.

With that being said, let’s dive in…

The Sylvester Stallone Success Story

Most people don’t know this about Sylvester Stallone, but he had a dream as a young man to become a big movie star in Hollywood.  He longed to become a great director, producer, and writer.   But of course, everyone told him it could not be done.  But, he wasn’t one to take no for an answer. And after finding little luck in the New York’s films scene, he decided to try his chances in Los Angeles.

As luck would have it, his life in Los Angeles was not all sunshine and rainbows.  He struggled and strived for a few years in Los Angeles as well.  At one point, things got so bad and he was so short on money that he had to take his wife’s jewelry, and sell it without her permission just to make a few extra dollars.  He even went through a short period of homelessness, spending a few nights sleeping on the floor of a bus station.  But the worst of his dire straits would be when he had to sell his dog because he could barely keep him fed. 

Struggle was a way of life for Sylvester Stallone for many years.  But he was willing to suffer through barely making ends meet , so long as he could keep taking shots at roles, regardless of the size.  He was willing to go through hell so long as there was the potential to fulfill his dream of making it in Hollywood. 

The Inspiration Behind The Inspiration

Fortunately, his trials and tribulations would not last forever.  One day after witnessing a boxing match between a virtually no-name boxer (his name was actually Chuck Wepner) who went head to head with the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali, a brilliant idea came to him.  

It is said, that after he watched this man take on the champ Ali, even knocking him down at one point, and almost going the entire distance of the fight with him, he became inspired by what he felt was a metaphor for life.  In fact, he became so inspired by what he saw, that when he got back home from the fight, he locked himself up in his 8ft x9ft apartment for over three days straight.  And when he finally came out of his apartment, he had completed the script that would eventually come to be known as ‘Rocky’.

One Shot, One Opportunity,

But just having that script in hand didn’t mean he was fated to overnight success.  No, there were still more obstacles that had to be overcome.  The script was written, but Sylvester didn’t yet have a backer/producer for it. 

However, his big opportunity would crystalize after wrapping up a casting call for a film he was auditioning for. A film that was being directed and produced by two notable film makers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler.  Now, he didn’t make the cut during that audition. But, before leaving the set that night he seized his moment while having conversation with Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler. And it was during that conversation that he boldly mentioned his interests in writing along with some of his ideas to the film producers.  As fate would have it, they became intrigued enough in what he was saying, that they invited him to stop by their office at a later time so they could learn more about him and his ideas.  And as they say…the rest is history.

Nothing’s Over Till It’s Over

Sylvester Stallone’s script one over the two film makers, and they decided they would buy the script from him so they could make it into a movie.  They offered Sylvester Stallone upwards of $300,000, which was the most money he had ever been offered, let alone seen at that time.  But, he knew that if his script would become a success, he would forever regret not going for the lead role.  So, he made it a point to star in his own film, realizing that this would be his true shot at achieving success.  So, after much negotiating, he would eventually decline upwards of $360,000 for the sale of his script alone.   He eventually won out in his negotiations and sold his script for $25,000, but on the condition that he would get to star in the lead role.

Success Ethos

Sylvester Stallone’s calculated risk to forgo what was a huge pay out at the time for his script, has made all the difference in his ultimate success.  The Rocky movie has since gone on to become a smash hit, along with a series of related cascading block buster successes. Successes that Sylvester Stallone proclaims he could have never imagined in wildest dreams.

And it all happened because he had a success ethos of never settling.   It happened because he was willing to embrace the pain and suffering of being without, until his vision was realized.  He was willing to take on the hits of life, and willing to lose it all to strike it big.  And it is because he had a vision of what he wanted, and stuck to it till the end, that he realized his vision, got everything he wanted, and struck it big.  Sylvester Stallone’s now has one of the most sizeable net worth’s in Hollywood, and he is arguably one of the most successful and well-known actors of all time.

Video Credit via Mulligan Brothers

Final Thoughts on This Success Story

The great thing about the Sylvester Stallone success story is that it provides us with hope for what is possible.  It also provides us with a road map of what achieving success, more often than not, looks like.  So, use his experiences to prepare yourself for what you must do to achieve your dreams.  Let them prepare you for the challenging road ahead. And may they give you hope that the vision you glorify in your mind will come to pass. Lastly, allow this story to help you believe that if you push hard enough, and strive long enough, you will eventually win.

Till next time,


PS – If you enjoyed this Success Story, then you’ll also enjoy these motivating quotes pulled directly from the Rocky series.

Feature image courtesy of Georges Biard. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Strive Team is made up of everyday people and experts from all sorts of different callings and professions, each contributing their best advice and unique insights to help you navigate the challenges of achievement, and support you as you strive to live your best life.