Who would win in a fight between Rocky and Rambo? It's tough to decide because they're both iconic action heroes from the 1980s who are played Sylvester Stallone. Rocky Balboa, the Southpaw fighter from Philadelphia, debuted in 1975's Rocky, which was eventually followed by 7 more Rocky movies (including the two Creed spinoffs). In 1982, Stallone brought John Rambo to the big screen in First Blood, which was followed by four more Rambo movies, including the newest, Rambo: Last Blood.
While both Rocky and Rambo are heroic warriors, they come from completely different combat disciplines. Rambo was a Green Beret and a decorated Vietnam veteran who has fought and killed hundreds of people in literal wars. Balboa is a prizefighter and a two-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world. However, both have endured personal tragedies; in 2019, Rocky and Rambo are each in their early 70s and they have survived the deaths of their loved ones, like Rocky's beloved wife Adrian (Talia Shire) and Rambo's only friend Col. Trautman (Richard Crenna). Both Rocky and Rambo also have struggled with trauma; Balboa was never the same after the brain damage Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) inflicted on him in Rocky IV and years of violent bloodshed have left Rambo a very traumatized man. However, if Rambo and Rocky had to face each other in their 1980s' primes, let's explore which fighter would have the upper hand.
In hand-to-hand combat, Rocky was a professional boxer but he came from a rough-and-tumble street-fighting background in the mean streets of South Philadelphia and he was once a local mob enforcer. But while Rocky can inflict a lot of damage with his fists, Rambo is a trained martial artist who can kill with all of his limbs. However, Rambo is a soldier who is reliant on weapons like his Bowie knife and various modes of firearms. Rocky is exclusively a hand-to-hand combatant but he has displayed an almost superhuman ability to absorb punishment. So while there's no doubt Rambo would literally murder Rocky if he were sufficiently armed, if the two simply exchanged fisticuffs, Rocky could probably outlast and defeat Rambo man-to-man.
In terms of over-the-top violence, there's no contest: Rambo would get the duke. The ex-Green Beret-turned-mercenary has slaughtered dozens of bad guys in his movies with all kinds of heavy ordinance, from compound bows, tanks to rocket launchers. Balboa would be absolutely no match for Rambo if John is fighting from a distance and utilizing an arsenal.
Rambo is much smarter than Rocky; the soldier speaks several languages and is skilled in stealth, infiltration, and hunting while Rocky is admittedly grade-school educated and learned from the school of hard knocks. When their mental states are compared, however, Rocky is healthier and more durable by far. Rambo is a deeply disturbed individual haunted by the wholesale slaughter he has reaped (and the injustices that were done to him by the US Government). Although Rocky is often plagued by self-doubt, the Italian Stallion maintains a positive mental outlook and, in a fight, he's like his namesake - a rock. (Or "a piece of iron", as Drago said of him). Balboa possesses heart, or rather, the indomitable fighting spirit dubbed the "Eye of the Tiger". Rocky mentally outlasts his opponents, breaks them down physically, and then puts them away with a knockout punch.
Both Rambo and Rocky have had notable conflicts with the Soviet Union. In Rambo III, John got involved in the Soviet-Afghan war to rescue Col. Trautman and he battled (and killed) scores of Russian soldiers. While Rocky only fought one Russian - Ivan Drago in Rocky IV - the Italian Stallion is the more inspirational figure; by decisively defeating the towering Soviet fighter in Moscow in front of Premier Gorbachev and winning the adoration of the Russian fans in attendance, it can be said that Rocky helped end the Cold War and ushered in glasnost. In the end, pitting Rambo against Rocky would beg the question: Why would Rambo want to kill Rocky Balboa? Ultimately, he probably wouldn't and they'd likely walk away from a fight with mutual respect.
- Rambo 5: Last Blood (2019) release date: Sep 20, 2019