With a film series as iconic as ROCKY you know we are going to see a pretty hefty list when it comes to supporting actors! The diference with the Rocky series is Sylvester Stallone was at the healm and he was very smart when it came to casting...and very adamant! If a boxer is needed to play a role then why not hire a boxer right?? Sounds pretty accurate to me! In ROCKY, Spider Rico (played by Pedro Lovell) was a Puerto Rican boxer that, as a Philadelphia-area club fighter in the film. He fought Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) at the time, which would set the timeline at around 1976. Spider is the first opponent of Rocky's we see in the series. So in a way he is a very special character that sometimes gets overlooked!
Spider took one stab at pro boxing against unknown fighter Ken Thorton, he was able to pull off a majority decision win justbefore his retirement. In the 2006 film, ROCKY BALBOA, he is portrayed as a strong-faithed Christian, where he is a dish washer at "Adrian's"...sort of pulling his weight so he can eat for free! Rocky befriends and keeps him around out of the goodness of his heart.
So what about the man behind Mr. Rico?? Pedro Lovell (born June 9, 1945) is a retired Argentine heavyweight boxer, a true knockout artist with a promising career in the 70s. He played the part of Spider Rico in the original installment of ROCKY... His boxing image was also used in the 1988 arcade video game of the same name and the 2004 PlayStation 2 video game.
~So let's dig a little deeper into the life of Pedro Lovell...
Lovell was born in Quilmes, Buenos Aires, Argentina. His father, Santiago Alberto Lovell, who was brother of former boxer Guillermo Lovell, came from an Afro-Argentine, English Argentine family, and his mother came from an Italian Argentine family. Lovell came from a family of fighters. Pedro also has two brothers, the oldest being Alberto Jr., the other being Domingo Ismael Lovell.
Lovell was a citizen of Argentina who decided to make his professional career in the United States. He traveled to California, where, after only a few fights, he became a big drawing card. While his brother, Alberto, Jr., was fighting in Argentina and knocking out the likes of Jose Manuel Ibar Urtain, Pedro racked up a string of nine straight knockouts. However, Pedro's career was hampered by physical injuries and prostate problems.
In 1973, Lovell was stunningly upset by Texan knockout king Terry Krueger. Lovell had been winning the fight. He bloodied Krueger's nose and seemed headed for an easy stoppage. However, Krueger let go with a wild left hook, and Pedro Lovell's undefeated streak ended. He was unconscious for more than three minutes.
A few months later the pair were rematched, and Lovell broke Krueger's jaw on the way to scoring three knockdowns and a first round victory. Lovell went on to destroy former heavyweight contender Billy Daniels in one round.
Lovell was on the road to a title fight. He played the part of Spider Rico in the 1976 movie Rocky. He appeared in the The Ring magazine and on television. He took his impressive record of knockouts into a nationally televised fight with Ken Norton.
However, Norton easily took apart Lovell, knocking him out. A short time later, Lovell dropped a decision to fight unbeaten Leroy Jones and announced his retirement. Lovell was at times referred to as "KO King", "The LA Bomber", "The Jawbreaker", and "One Punch".
Some 30 years after the first Rocky film, Lovell reprised his role as Spider Rico for the film Rocky Balboa in 2006. Lovell currently lives in San Jose, California and is an American citizen
Let's revisit the opening scene in Rocky (1976) which takes place on November 25, 1975..Rocky is fighting uninspired until he is head-butted by Spider Rico, to which he responds with a furious combination of haymakers and knocks out Spider Rico!
So let's take a look at Pedro in action...The real Pedro...No script, no rehearsal. This is a bout from 1976 between Pedro Lovell andKen Norton. Footage was tougher to archive back then so it may not be the best quality...but we have it!1