1 Mar

Eye Of The Tiger

Rocky runs through market

I would guess that most men in their thirties or forties have a fond recollection of the Rocky movies. I am no different, writes Chris Broadbent.

The washed-up Italian-American heavyweight boxer expertly played by Sylvester Stallone, somehow always wins through, despite being in apparently impossible situations against seemingly superior opponents. The flashy Apollo Creed, the dynamite-fisted Clubber Lang (played by Mr T) and the hulking Russian Ivan Drago all eventually fell at the feet of Philadephia's finest, even after having Rocky on the edge of defeat throughout each gripping title fight.

Yes, the films were sentimental, they were schmaltzy and by the time Rocky V came out, they were also highly implausible. But, they are full to the brim of human spirit and still have the capacity to inspire. Some of the most iconic moments in the series are the training montages, where an epic soundtrack plays over scenes of our hero pushing himself to the limits either in the gym or out running. It's heart-pumping, fist-clenching stuff.

I'm sure I am not alone in indulging myself a little when a 'Rocky Balboa moment' presents itself when training, as it very occasionally does. What grown man wouldn't want to step into the boots of the Italian Stallion and live the fantasy? Even if it is for just a few short moments.

I suspect many runners have sprinted up a flight of steps outside a large public building and raised their fists in a mock Rocky tribute. Yep, so have I. Another moment was rather unforeseen. I found myself working in Turin, Italy over a weekend a few years ago. Before breakfast and my flight home I took myself to the streets for an early morning run.

Keen to see a bit of the city as well as get my running session, I ran through a nearby market where I was tossed an apple by a stall-holder. By the look on his face, it seemed he gained just as much pleasure from this Rocky re-enactment as I. His chanting of "Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!" as I ran on, only confirmed it.

Recently I had another chance to enjoy a Rocky moment, and I grabbed the opportunity. I was on a family ski holiday in Bulgaria. It is a place that is not over-populated with tourists and the area we stayed was particularly sparse of international visitors, certainly none were British. It could comfortably be described as a backwater - some locals still had a horse and cart as their preferred form of transport.

Temperatures were well below freezing and the snow was copious. It looked as if God had applied a generous dollop of shaving foam to the entire country. It was prime Rocky IV training territory and I was determined to make the most of it as I headed out.

The puzzled looks from the weather-beaten faces of the village residents really added to the authenticity. It was slippy and slidey, but I enjoyed every moment of it. I made it my mission to scale a peak on foot and I knew exactly what I would do when I reached the summit.

It was really tricky terrain, but the adrenalin saw me through. When I reached my goal I let the whole valley know about it. "Drago!" I yelled. I know a few dogs heard me as they barked an annoyed response. I'm not sure if any people did. I didn't care. It felt knock-out.