View Full Version : "The Contender" - Stallone's Boxing Reality Show

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5/18/2004 11:18pm,
NEW YORK - Sylvester Stallone (news) stepped into the ring Monday and, though wearing jeans and long-sleeve shirt, struck a blow for his upcoming TV series "The Contender."

The site was a lower Manhattan gym hosting five days of tryouts for aspiring pugilists who aim to be among the 16 contenders vying for the million-dollar purse on NBC's contest-drama.

Each hopeful filled out forms, was examined by a doctor, then waited to be paired off for three minutes of sparring under the watchful eye of Frank Stallone (news), the show's boxing consultant and the host's brother.

Meanwhile, the man who made "Rocky" a symbol of the American dream had a headlock on the attention of reporters and camera crews gathered for his appearance.

"`The Contender, is not about boxing. It's about people who box and that's a big difference," he said.

Maybe that's why "casting call" was the operative term: Not only was each tryout being assessed for his boxing ability, but also being interviewed to gauge his potential star appeal.

"We're looking for star power," said Mark Burnett, the series' executive producer and the creator of such hits as "Survivor" and "The Apprentice."

"To be a star, you've got to be a great boxer, but you've also got to have great charisma," he said. "What's wrong with boxing today? There are not enough great characters."

Burnett intends for his show to establish great characters in the boxing arena and bring them to a huge, new audience that, until now, was immune to boxing's charm: "Maybe we can kick-start a wonderful, noble sport."

New York is the eighth of 13 cities visited by the show's scouting party. The sweep will yield some 4,000 fighters, who then will be winnowed to 50 occupying a single, yet-to-be-determined weight class. After more callbacks, this number will be trimmed to 16.

The 16-episode series will track those finalists training and living together as they eliminate one another in the ring.

"This is a story of hopes and dreams," said Burnett, who called himself a lifelong boxing fan. "It really is the `Rocky' journey."

An essential element of the series, added Stallone, is that the characters be "allowed to show, behind the scenes, their fears, their underbelly, their childlike insecurities and prove they're human, so people see they're not beasts, not animals."

Listed as a "mentor" for the fighters is boxing champ Sugar Ray Leonard, who, also on hand Monday, playfully sparred with Stallone for the cameras.

NBC has announced "The Contender" will be a midseason entry on Tuesday nights facing off its time slot against Fox's biggest show, "American Idol."

But Fox hopes to beat NBC to the punch with its own boxing contest-drama and, according to "The Contender's" producers, it's hitting below the belt by stealing their idea.

Announced last month, "The Next Great Champ" boasts a real-life Rocky, six-time World Champion Oscar De La Hoya, who will offer the series' champ a possible title fight and a boxing contract with his Golden Boy Promotions, as well as the cash prize.

This series, with no announced premiere date, has just concluded its own seven-city search, which will result in about a dozen finalists. It's being produced by Endemol USA, a heavyweight in the "reality" genre with such series as "Big Brother" and "Fear Factor."

Fox had no comment on any charges that it had stolen the "Contender" concept.

"It doesn't feel good to have such a similar show on the air," said Burnett. "But the way to defeat the competition is to do your best work. Just an idea isn't enough."



5/18/2004 11:19pm,
This should be good. We'll see if the public will fall in love with boxing again.

5/18/2004 11:23pm,
Welcome back! I'd prefer an MMA reality show, but this'll have to do.

5/18/2004 11:25pm,
Thanks Bunyip.

I am finally free of Bullshido's grip. So now I can post again. I've missed ya'll.

5/19/2004 12:43am,
Heh, welcome back.

BTW, **** boxing, I'd rather see K-1 or MT or FC kickboxing or female mud wrestling

5/19/2004 8:33am,
ha! thanks Piz.

Cmon, think of the big picture...if this show takes off who knows what could be next...perhaps a reality show based on the McThrowdowns or Fight Clubs around the country. Combat arts representing...lets show up!

Let's support Stallone's effort to bring boxing back to the prime time living room!

(Going up against American Idol is probably not the best ring strategy though)

5/19/2004 8:57am,
As long as it does NOT degenerate into those "toughman" competitions, I think it may give some talented fighters a chance to glow in the spotlight.

5/19/2004 9:08am,
Man it sucks.

5/19/2004 9:16am,
no the problem with boxing is they fix the fights and they've been doing it for years. I get so mad i could piss all over don king.

5/19/2004 9:49am,
Originally posted by jubei33
no the problem with boxing is they fix the fights and they've been doing it for years. I get so mad i could piss all over don king.

That is a turn off. Lets hope that good honest competition and valor are allowed to shine through.

5/19/2004 3:00pm,
I'd watch it. Maybe someday there will be one for MMA, and I'll be in it! :D

5/20/2004 10:18am,
That's the spirit, Chaos!! And it will happen. This is the future for younguns like you and J-kid.

Let's watch the show...what's good for one combat art is good for all of us.

We can call Bullshido when and if we see it. :)

5/20/2004 10:50am,
If I was in the US, I try out for it, just for the fun of it.

5/20/2004 10:54am,
maybe sometime boxing will be something that would be available even to those who can pay 50 dollars for one decent fight.

5/20/2004 11:13am,
grr . . . I work for nbc . . . can't try out. . .

Transcendent Sunchips
5/20/2004 11:23am,
"To be a star, you've got to be a great boxer, but you've also got to have great charisma," he said. "What's wrong with boxing today? There are not enough great characters."

I hate it when people say that. This is why I hate it when the general public tries to show interest in sports. A lot of people know jack about the sport and will want to see some pro-wrestling back stage drama.

If you're looking for great characters, go watch a movie or read a book. The reason to compete in boxing is to see who's the better boxer, not who's the better actor/bigger asshole.

I know that one person's going to get screwed on that show because even though he's a superior boxer compared to the rest of the contestants, he'll have a 1 dimensional personality.