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Today’s the most tragic day in the Rocky movies

Sylvester Stallone's Rocky loves just a few things in life - Adrian, robot butlers, and his trainer Mickey. So when Mickey has a heart attack, cue the anguish.

Sylvester Stallone in Rocky 3

You may think that Sylvester Stallone‘s Rocky crying out for Adrian is the most heart-breaking (and iconic) moment in the best sports movie franchise of all time, but you would be wrong. That moment actually comes in the third movie in the Rocky series, when Rocky’s trainer Mickey Goldmill (whatta name) dies just after Rocky fights Clubber Lang (Mr T).

And the date of Mickey’s tragic demise is August 15, 1981 – so today is the 42nd anniversary of his passing, as revealed by the Dates in Movies account. It is implied in Rocky 3 that Clubber Lang contributes to Mickey’s death by pushing him during the fracas before the fight. Mickey starts to struggle – sweating and labored breathing – and Rocky wants to pull out of the fight. Mickey insists that Rocky continue, but he’s knocked out by Lang in the second round.

Rocky just has time to deliver this news to Mickey before Mickey expires from heart failure. Stallone gives a fantastic, anguished performance here – which is what he does best throughout the series.

Rocky 3 is generally viewed pretty favorably, certainly compared to Rocky 4 and 5 which followed. Stallone himself directed the second, third and fourth Rocky movies. When each of the first four Rocky movies was released, it out-grossed its predecessor in the series. Rocky 5 was a box office disappointment, and the series took a 16 year break until the release of Rocky Balboa in 2006.

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After Mickey dies, Rocky is trained by his former rival Apollo Creed. In Rocky 4, he faces Drago (Dolph Lundgren). The franchise was once again rebooted in 2015 by Ryan Coogler, with Michael B. Jordan playing Apollo Creed’s son. There are now three Creed movies, with the most recent being directed by Jordan and making $275 million at the box office.

Check out our guide to the best 80s movies and to the potential Creed 4 release date. You may need our guide to how to watch the Rocky movies in order and to the best action movies – where you’re sure to find plenty of Stallone.