Sylvester Stallone may have just met the next Rocky Balboa: a nine-year-old from Alabama.
Ro Knight reenacted one of the character’s most iconic scenes from the movie franchise while meeting Stallone on Sunday during the first “Rocky Day” in Philadelphia.
“It was fantastic,” Knight told NBC. “He was surprised, I guess. It was awesome.”
Knight approached Stallone as he was taking photo ops with fans in front of the city’s famed Rocky statue as part of the celebration.
“Let me tell you something that you already know,” Knight told Stallone. “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows…”
But it certainly was all sunshine and rainbows on this day for Knight and Stallone. Knight continued with the famous speech from the movie “Rocky Balboa” and was even joined at times by Stallone as a large crowd looked on.
“That’s how winning is done!” the two shouted simultaneously midway through the performance.
The crowd cheered Knight at the end of his roughly 45-second speech as if he were Rocky after winning the heavyweight championship. Knight, like Balboa, had prepared for the moment his entire life, only his training didn’t include chasing chickens and running up a museum’s steps.
It required watching a lot of “Rocky” movies, which he said he began doing as a toddler with his father. He then had to memorize Stallone’s lines and rehearse his performance to prepare himself for the crowds.
“The more people the better,” said Knight, an aspiring actor and wrestler.
“If I’m coming down there, I have to do something,” Knight said. “So, I was like, ‘What’s the most iconic promo?’ I’ve done it in the past before. I started memorizing it again. Then I went up and did it.”
Stallone shared a video of the interaction on social media Sunday night.
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“This kid is a real life Rocky!” Stallone wrote.
Sunday was the first time Stallone and Knight stood toe to toe, but the 77-year-old actor had seen Knight’s reenactment before.
In fact, Rocky Balboa was more of an unknown when he first stepped into the ring than Knight is as a nine-year-old social media star. His Instagram account @Ro_knows_wrestling has over 50,000 followers.
In May of 2021, Stallone shared an Instagram video of Knight delivering the same speech while wearing Rocky’s red, white and blue trunks.
“This very young fan is amazing!” Stallone wrote of the then six-year-old Knight. “It makes me incredibly proud The ROCKY character has been passed down through several generations. It’s quite humbling … Keep Punching young man!”
Stallone also isn’t the first Rocky character that Knight has come face to face with. He has met Hulk Hogan – who portrayed Thunderlips in “Rocky II” – multiple times. It was Hogan who encouraged Ro’s family to start a social media account.
“Hulk was like, ‘Man, you gotta put Ro up, even if he’s a realtor one day and he’s got a million followers, it will be worth it,’” Ro’s father Rick said.
The video of Ro’s 2021 encounter with Hogan, in which he recites a Hulkster-like promo in front of the legendary wrestler, went viral.
“Well, let me tell you something, Hulkster!” he told Hogan. “When I first met you, I was only three years old, but now I’m six years old. So now we gotta take it to a bigger level, man.”
Knight finished the performance by doing a Hogan trademark: ripping off his shirt. Knight has since gone from being a fan of Hogan’s to being a friend.
“At two years old, he started watching Hulk Hogan,” Ro’s father Rick said. “Hulk is now like his second dad slash grandad.”
Stallone’s agents soon took notice, Rick said, and offered to send Ro some Rocky merchandise from the recently-opened Sly Stallone Shop in Philadelphia. It later led to an invite to “Rocky Day.”
Knight admits to feeling some nerves when approaching and impersonating his heroes Hogan and Stallone, but he finds a way to fight through it.
“Both were great guys, but I mean, they were both intimidating for sure,” Knight said. “But you just gotta get past that fear and keep punching, like he says.”
Knight wants to keep punching and keep filming, following in the footsteps of Stallone.
“He has that aura, like he glows,” Knight said of Stallone. “But no matter how much I was nervous, I had to get through that, do the promo and it was just awesome.”
It was also his first unofficial in-person audition for a role in one of Stallone’s films, saying he would love to be in the next “Creed” movie.
But which role would he play?
“Whatever Rocky wants,” Knight said. “He’s the director.”