July 26, 2012 | Review by Holly Jonas / TotalRocky.com
There really is a little bit of Rocky in all of us.
Author Felice Cantatore’s story “The Rocky Spirit” is just that: Rocky’s spirit. A real-life application of those admirable character traits that Stallone’s beloved character so embodies. His story takes us from his first childhood viewing of the original Rocky, through the years and the series’ five sequels, culminating in a flurry of excitement at the time of Rocky Balboa’s release in 2006.
Actor Burt Young – beloved for his role as Paulie – has described the book as “A Masterpiece,” and interestingly, the book details a connection the author’s family had with Young years before he was famous. Later we glimpse other Rocky-themed moments in this fan’s life – a starstruck young boy meeting Talia Shire shortly before Rocky II hit the big screen, dining at Victor’s Café in Philadelphia (better known as Adrian’s Restaurant), rubbing elbows with Sylvester and Frank Stallone, along with other members of the Rocky Balboa production, and even a taste of pugilism – Cantatore’s dedication to the heart of Rocky brought him into the gym and ultimately, the boxing ring (ya know, like local). You’ll have to read it yourself to find out if he managed to go the distance.
What I loved the best – and guess readers will enjoy most – are Cantatore’s vivid descriptions of the filming of Rocky Balboa at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Having been fortunate enough to have been at the filming also [click here to read my story], it’s fun to be able to compare notes and learn what it was like in a different area of the arena. This is sure to be intriguing to fans looking for more information about the ringside experience during Rocky’s final cinematic boxing match.
In an effort to accomplish the seemingly impossible – getting into the premiere of Rocky Balboa, Cantatore conceived an ambitious promotional event to turn the spotlight his way in hopes of getting noticed by studio officials. His event invited 40 die-hard Rocky fans – dressed in the grey sweats of their hero – to travel en masse to the foot of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to run the steps as group, and afterwards tour some of the series’ most iconic filming locations including Rocky’s apartment and Mighty Mick’s Gym. (Plus, I loved seeing a mention of TotalRocky.com in the book regarding our ever-expanding list of filming locations!)
The rest of the story unfolds from here and fellow fans can relish in Cantatore’s exploits right alongside him. One kid’s lifelong dream of actually becoming part of Stallone’s inspirational saga finally comes true – brought about by a strong faith in God and that wonderful Balboa trait of determination. This guy never gives up on his dream – and in the end, he shows us that even though Rocky was his journey, that indomitable spirit and all it symbolizes can help each of us reach our own heights, no matter our path.