On this day in 1976, filming of the movie "Rocky" began. Sylvester Stallone was the flick's leading actor, portraying a fictional Philadelphia boxer named Rocky Balboa. Yet the movie was inspired by a real-life boxing match that occurred in 1975 between heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali and a virtually unknown fighter by the name of Chuck Wepner.
Do you have an appetite for boxing? Then consider some of the strange things that a few famous boxers ate:
* When Joe Louis was living in Chicago, his trainer would take him to the city's stockyards, where the boxer drank blood fresh from the slaughterhouse.
* Early in his boxing career, Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali) converted to Islam. A Muslim mentor recalled that Ali had no problem adjusting to the dietary rules of his new religious. "We used to eat together at the Famous Chef Cafe," said Abdul Rahaman. "And when I first sat down with Cassius, no one had taught him about not eating pork. But it wasn't hard to get him to change."
* Robert De Niro was an actor, not a boxer, but he played a prize-fighter in the highly acclaimed 1980 movie "Raging Bull". De Niro packed on at least 50 pounds in order to portray the boxer Jake LaMotta. To gain the weight, De Niro said he ate "three square meals a day . . . y'know, pancakes, milk, beer."