Rocky Balboa is a fictional boxer created and played by Sylvester Stallone in the long-running “Rocky” franchise. The character has inspired many to pursue their dreams, but none have followed in the Italian Stallion’s footsteps quite like Mike Kunda.
Kunda has always emulated his heroes. Ever since he was a little boy, he has been enamored with the character of Rocky Balboa. He was only eight years old when Rocky was released in 1976 and already dealing with bullies at school.
“I was coming home with bruises from the bullies. The way I handled it? I would wear a Superman costume underneath my school clothes thinking it would give me superpowers. But that only made the situation worse as the bullies noticed my cape and tore it.”
Kunda shared that even though his family had always been supportive, he just couldn’t find it in his heart to believe in himself. But when his dad showed him Rocky, that’s when things began to change for him.
After graduating from high school, Kunda took several jobs. Although he did continue to dress as Rocky and still watch the movie nonstop, his chance of becoming the character is getting bleak.
Just when he was about to lose hope, the owners of The Victor Cafe in Philadelphia, a.k.a. Adrian’s restaurant invited Kunda to Stallone’s 60th birthday celebration. This was the first time Kunda and Stallone met. The pair quickly bonded.
Mike Kunda eventually became a professional Rocky impersonator for hire after winning a look-alike contest in 2006. He then wrote a memoir published in 2010 called “Cue the Rocky Music,” and Sylvester Stallone even promoted it.
“Rocky also taught me about perseverance. He just wanted a shot, he knew he could do something, but he was never given a shot.
We want to fail on our own terms. We just want an opportunity, to know what we are worth.”
Sylvester Stallone officially endorsed Kunda’s tour and changed once bullied kid’s life once again.
A documentary film called “The Pretender” was recently made about Mike Kunda.
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