Tragic Story of Butkus: The Dog Sylvester Stallone Was Forced to Sell Before ‘Rocky’

Published 01/09/2023, 7:15 AM EST

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There are a few movies, which changed the course of sports dramas in Hollywood, and Rocky is one of the best on the list. The memory of that movie is still vivid in fans. However, there was a four-legged star in the movie, who played a crucial role in Rocky and no one can ignore his presence in the movie. It was Butkus, Sylvester Stallone’s dog, we are talking about. Today, with a series of tweets, American investor Joe Pompalino went down the memory line, and shared a post about the animal with his owner ‘Rocky Balboa’. The post simply depicted the bond between Sylvester Stallone and Butkus Stallone. But very few people know the dreadful thing that happened to the dog before it became an integral part of Rocky 1 and Rocky 2.

Who was Butkus and how did he become an important part of the Rocky franchise?

Butkus Stallone, better known by the mononym ‘Butkus’ was Sylvester Stallone’s dog which was a bull mastiff. After getting the in 1969, when the mastiff was just six weeks old. Butkus went on to become an intrinsic part of the Stallone family.


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via Getty

When the shooting for Rocky 1 commenced, the script required a pet for the lead character, Rocky Balboa. But the budget of the movie was so tight, that even affording a ‘hamster’ would have been a tremendous act. At that time, the producer asked Stallone if he could bring his dog to the sets. And this way, the Butkus was introduced into the story. And the rest is history.


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Before Rocky’s Success, Sylvester Stallone “Was Out There Eating Rats and Flies”

Sylvester Stallone had to sell Butkus before ‘Rocky’

Despite all the love and affection, Stallone had to make one of the hardest choices of his life before Rocky became a hit and a household name. He sold his pawed friend in exchange for a bare minimum of money, $25, before the movie, to help him with his poverty. Although the amount of money he got by selling the dog is still doubtful. Everyone knows that Stallone once lived in one of the smallest apartments in New York and was going through the hardest time of his life at that time and only had $106 in his pocket.

Although luck was with him, and after Rocky 1 became the biggest hit, he had enough money to bring back his old friend. Notably, he got $25000 for the Rocky script and out of which he spent $15000 to buy Butkus again.


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Joe Pompalino said, “Confident in his acting ability, Sylvester Stallone accepted $25,000 for the script, rather than $360,000, on the premise he would maintain the starring role.” He further added, “Stallone used $15,000 of the money to buy his dog back.” 


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Watch this story: Boxing news round up 08-01-2023

This story describes the bonding between two of the best creatures that god ever made, a human and his best friend, the dog. Although there was a tragic story with Butkus, in the end, it all became good for him. Butkus died in 1981 due to a heart attack, and Stallone penned down an emotional note of his friend. What is your opinion on their bonding? Let us know in the comments.


Written by:

Soumyajit Karmakar


One take at a time

Soumyajit is a boxing writer at EssentiallySports, an avid fan of combat sports. He completed his graduation in Biology and developed an interest in writing from the initial days. A tech enthusiast with interest in sports, music, finance, crypto, and stocks.
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