I know it is a movie. But I was a fighter just years after Rocky IV was made. My kids were watching tonight and ask me about the fight and have me pause the movie.

Four different times during the fight would there be an instant DQ on Drago's part:

  1. Extra punches after the bell - the most egregious.
  2. Shoving Creed across the ring. This could lead to instant DQ but by following that up by throwing punches after the punch... for sure.
  3. Shoving the referee and then hitting during the round.
  4. Shoving the referee completely after bell.

Any of these things would probably lead to Drago losing instantly but more importantly - he would never be allowed a sanctioned fight anytime soon. So how does this get glossed over in the movie? To me this is akin to watching a golf movie and a character just scoots the ball 5 feet closer with his foot.

There are movie goofs, especially with sports. And there is certainly comedies (Happy Gilemore, Caddyshack) that get a great amount of leeway with the cheating at the sport. I cannot think of a non-comedy sports movie that had this big of a "cheat" that no one talked about for a main character.

So to summarize what allowed Rocky IV to bend the rules without the audience being outraged or losing realism? And as an addendum to that are there any examples of any other serious sports movies, blatantly breaking the rules of the main sport in question (given non-comedy or "futuristic")?

  • 1
    If you aren't willing to suspend disbelief and accept movies changing reality for plot then you really can't expect a more logical explanation.
    – Paulie_D
    Jun 7, 2020 at 5:47
  • In the Disney movie The absent Minded Professor (1961) the title professor uses his invention of flubber to help the ficitonal Medfield College team cheat at a basketball game. That began a long tradition of Medfield College cheating at sports in various Disney movies. In the 1995 remake of The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes Medfield even cheated in an academic competition to attract more students. Jun 7, 2020 at 17:38
  • @M.A.Golding - That wasn't really cheating. They didn't break any common basketball rules. They could float - that was an advantage. But it isn't like they just ran around the court holding the ball.
    – blankip
    Jun 8, 2020 at 0:28
  • @Paulie_D - well the story was about a USSR-USA conflict. It is really hard to believe that someone would cheat on one side and there would literally be zero mention of the cheating. Even if there was a sports aspect of just let them play in the movie, there would still be severe international considerations to maintain. Think in Rocky III they actually talked about the "different rules" when Rocky fought Hulk Hugan (wrestler). Why not at least have an announcer or someone say "They aren't under normal boxing rules here in the USSR." - nothing.
    – blankip
    Jun 8, 2020 at 0:31
  • 1
    I think whoever downvoted did so because it's hard to tell whether this is a rant or a question. It's a movie, as you say. But also it was made in the 80s, when realism wasn't as important (see any 1980s action movie!) as setting up the plucky American underdog to take on the evil Soviet empire. Also, as Johnny Bones said it was an exhibition fight. Therefore they would be less inclined to disqualify a fighter. BTW, at the time WWF was popular and believed by many to be real, and cheating was commonplace in that so audiences (both in & out of universe) would have been used to seeing cheating.
    – komodosp
    Jun 9, 2020 at 23:10

2 Answers 2


Simply, it wouldn't have. Remember, this is an exhibition bout. While the rules aren't as strict as a normal bout, they also expect the boxers to "behave". It would have been ended under normal circumstances with any of the above mentioned infractions, although there's an outside possibility it could have continued if both boxers argued for it.


Those sorts of technicalities happen over and over and generally go unnoticed by the majority of the viewers. The DQ notes are interesting, but I think even as a casual viewer who has seen a few boxing and UFC fights I would pick on the stamina more than anything.

One thing to consider is that even in real life, a foul has to be called by someone. If it is missed or ignored, the game goes on. Maybe in the fiction of Rocky, those involved were told behind the curtain that the show must go on. Better to have an exciting fight than to have to deal with a few thousand refund requests and bad publicity. So ultimately, who knows?

Think of how many times people shoot guns in movies. Sometimes, someone pumps a shotgun several times between shots. You know what that would do? Sometimes they pull hammers back when the hammer would already be back. Sometimes they don't have to reload, like every John Woo movie ever made.

How many times have you seen a car jump anything in a movie? Want some fun? Google the closing credits to the Dukes of Hazzard movie and watch how many General Lees they trashed trying to capture crazy jumps. Basically, that would happen every single time any car jumps something and to actually not crash would be the odds heavily against you.

Military and police ranking is a good one too. So many movies just slap ranking things on uniforms and pretend they line up. People call BS on rotten tomatoes reviews all the time but yet it still goes on.

In the end, the cost/benefit ratio is simply too far disjointed to care to rectify in the majority of cases. Some authors, like Andy Weir who wrote the Martian, go out of their way to scientifically confirm all the details in their story because the details are what they obsess over and in many ways are what make their stories so good. In others, like Rocky, you can skirt it a little because the target audience is the average movie goer, not a professional boxer. So to pay all the extra consulting, observational, and post production validations on any given movie that isn't professing scientific accuracy may be too far outside the desired expenses for most production studios. Hell, I would do that too. If I wanted to make a movie about a hellish rock climbing story I might go for about 80% on the realism thing. Anything more and I would never finish the story. Hell, I may not even start it.

  • I'm going to give a personal anecdote as someone who was 21 and remember seeing this in the theater... when those things happened, I remember going "awe that's not right, why doesn't someone stop the fight!?!?!!?!" What I didn't do was go "he broke the rules, he should be disqualified". Upon further review, I'm one of those "casual viewer who had seen the Ali fights, and that was it". I know I didn't know the rules of boxing.
    – CGCampbell
    Jun 10, 2020 at 21:24

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