Text from “Rocky: The Ultimate Guide”…
“Whatever he hits, he destroys.” Nikolai Koloff
Kept in isolation and living a life that consisted of little else than training as a boxer, Ivan Drago had begun to lose his sense of self. He felt as though he were becoming more of a machine than a man, a machine designed with only one goal in mind – to prove Russia’s supremacy in the ring.
Plucked from the ranks of the Soviet army, he had been told that he would become a national symbol, a hero to the people, and a badge of honor to his homeland. Drago hadn’t been interested in any of that. But he had been interested – very interested – in the opportunity to develop as a boxer and prove himself a greater champion than the man who had inspired him to take up the sport in the first place, Rocky Balboa. Politics was not Drago’s game, he would leave that to others. Proving his craft in the boxing ring was everything. When he fought, he would fight not for Russia, but for himself.
Ludmilla Vobet Drago’s marriage to Ivan had not been built on love, but on her duty to her country. She had been assigned to Ivan when it became obvious that she had caught his attention, and she was more or less instructed to cut short the courtship period so that he would not be distracted from the task at hand. Her sold purpose was to make him feel good about himself, and to reinforce how important all of this was not only fro them as a couple, but for the Soviet Union itself. Clearly, she had done her job extremely well.
It wasn’t the most romantic of beginnings, but some time prior to their first trip to America, the statuesque blonde had realized that she was beginning to have genuine feelings for her husband. Whether or not this had more to do with his status and the effect that success in America would have on their lives back home was something that she didn’t permit herself to spend too much time thinking about.
Training In the Spotlight
Generally speaking, training in Russia was done in secret, the press only having access to what the government wanted them to see. So to be in America where the reporters were virtually everywhere they went, whether they wanted them there or not, was a bit overwhelming for both Ivan and Ludmilla. The attention they’d gotten since arriving in the United States was far more than either had expected, though one would be hard-pressed to recognize a look of surprise – or any emotion for that matter – on Drago’s face. But they and their team, particularly Nicolai Koloff, the Russian spokesman, were quick to turn this press intrusion to their advantage. Ludmilla in particular charmed the press corp with her ice-cool beauty and fluent command of English.
Drago’s View: The Fight with Apollo Creed
Throughout his life, Drago had heard a lot about the freedom enjoyed by Americans, but he couldn’t wrap his mind around all he had seen since first arriving in the country. People here seemed to do and say whatever they pleased, and the effect was frequently one of chaos. As he stood in the ring waiting for the fight to begin, Drago was about to experience that chaos magnified a thousand times – and for the first time up close. H was about to find himself at the center of a full-scale, all-American extravaganza!