A 77-year-old former heavyweight boxer who says his loss to Muhammad Ali was the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky” character settled his lawsuit against a financier who he alleged stole an idea for a film about his life.
Chuck Wepner and the Tollins/Robbins film production company filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court in February 2016 against Mary Aloe and Aloe Entertainment, seeking unspecified damages.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs filed a notice of settlement Feb. 15 with Judge Samantha Jessner. No terms were divulged.
The suit alleged breach of contract and that Aloe interfered with contractual relations and put her interests ahead of those of the plaintiffs. Aloe Entertainment attorney Richard Rosenthal previously issued a statement saying the lawsuit was “completely meritless and lacks adequate factual or legal basis.”
Wepner lost an epic 15-round battle to Ali in 1975. Stallone’s “Rocky” was released a year later and was inspired by the Wepner-Ali fight, the suit stated.
Tollin/Robbins entered an agreement with Wepner in 2004 to make a film on his life story, according to the suit, which says Aloe was hired by the company in 2013 to raise funds to produce the movie.
However, Aloe “incessantly peppered plaintiffs with emails and phone calls” and many of the written messages were so poorly written they were “nonsensical,” according to the lawsuit.
Aloe also began negotiating side deals with other finance experts before finally ceasing efforts to find funding, the suit alleged.
The plaintiffs eventually obtained financing for the film elsewhere and it will be released later this year, according to the suit. However, Wepner and Tollins/Robbins eventually learned that another movie based on the boxer’s life, tentatively entitled “American Brawler,” had a script similar to that of their project, according to the plaintiffs.
“Adding insult to injury, plaintiffs also learned that Aloe and her co- conspirators directly contacted (actor) Liev Schreiber to recruit him away from the authorized Wepner film and join the stolen Wepner film,” the suit alleged.
Wepner, now 77, retired from boxing in 1978.
—City News Service
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