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Sylvester Stallone Posts Touching Tribute to the Dog That Inspired Him to Write ‘Rocky’

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Sylvester Stallone & puppy Butkus, 1971. Image via Sylvester Stallone.

Sylvester Stallone, reminiscing about his best friend, a dog that not only inspired him to write ‘Rocky’ but who also played an important role in the film, revealed little known details about their early life together and the dog that kept him going during some of the toughest times in his life.

Stallone met the Bull Mastiff puppy, who he named Butkus after the famed Chicago Bears linebacker, in 1971. Broke, hungry, and living in a tiny apartment above a New York subway stop in Hell’s Kitchen, Stallone and Butkus became the very best of friends. It was during their time together in that flophouse that Stallone began screenwriting.

Just a few years after adopting the Bull Mastiff puppy who he describes as “the one living thing that loved me for who I was,” Stallone hit rock bottom both financially and emotionally, when circumstances forced him to sell the dog for $40 in order to buy food.

Stallone jokes that it was Butkus who actually came up with the idea for ‘Rocky’. But, as if by divine intervention, shortly after Stallone sold Butkus in front of a 7-11 store, desperate and out of options, the screenplay he’d written, with his best friend by his side, was sold.

One of his first orders of business was, naturally, to track down Butkus and buy him back. The new owner, aware of Stallone’s newfound riches, demanded $15,000 for the dog. Without hesitation, Stallone says it was “worth every penny!”


1971… Since we’re on the subject of ” man’s best friend” this is myself and Butkus as a puppy , we were both , thin , hungry and living in a flophouse above a subway stop, I used to say this apartment had ” … Hot and cold running roaches” anyway there was not much to do except spend time with each other and that’s where I started to learn the craft of screenwriting. Since I never went out, I relied on his companionship , And actually it was his idea to write Rocky, but don’t tell anyone…. Years later when things got even worse I had to sell him for $40 in front of a 7-Eleven store,because I couldn’t afford food, then like A modern day miracle, the screenplay for Rocky sold, and I could buy and buy him back, but the new owner knew I was desperate, and charged me $15,000 … He was worth every penny! #New York City #HellsKitchen #BullMastiff #It’sADogsWorld. #MoreToCome#inspiration #ThunderingYourHeart #GoingThedistance

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Once again reunited with his very best friend, Stallone began filming ‘Rocky’. The movie was released in 1976 skyrocketing Stallone – and Butkus, Rocky’s training buddy and best friend in the film – to stardom.

Some of the most iconic scenes in the movie involved both Stallone and Butkus, side by side as they were always meant to be:

Butkus returned to his famed role by Rocky’s side in ‘Rocky II’. He passed away in 1981 at 10 years old.

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