The “Rocky” story still inspires many of today’s athletes.
One man in particular that it has inspired is Brent “The Disciple” Cooper, who decided to pursue boxing after seeing the film.
“When I first met Brent one of the first two things I learned were his favorite movies and his favorite fighter and his favorite movie was always Rocky,” said Leeann Cooper, Brent’s wife.
Rocky wasn’t the only man that got Brent Cooper interested in boxing. Cooper’s father was a boxer, but that wasn’t the only thing he picked up from his dad.
“My dad always had a drinking problem,” Cooper said. “He always supported the family, he worked, he always took care of us as far as that. I mean, he was a great man, but he just could never really beat drinking.”
Cooper’s first drink was at the age of 3.
“When you see your dad doing it, you just think it’s normal,” Cooper said.
Even as he was developing that taste for alcohol he got saved.
“I got saved actually when I was seven. I accepted Jesus. My cousin Denise led me to the Lord and I’ll never forget it. It was in her house and I was laying on the floor and I was like, ya know, I just accepted Jesus into my life,” he said.
This first salvation experience would be his anchor through a number of tough times.
He continued pursuing his boxing career, but just as he was beginning to find success in the ring, life delivered a devastating blow: his mother died.
“My mom said, ‘I’m gonna get you a big house.’ My mom was like, ‘Jesus has a house waiting for me, a mansion, and that was the last time I talked to her,'” he said.
To cope with her death he went to alcohol and drugs, but his wife went to another source for comfort.
“I loved God and I loved Brent and I knew that with his mother gone somebody had to stand up and pray for him. I’m sorry, if it wasn’t me it was nobody,” she said.
Little by little he began to turn his life around and Brent knew it was time to recommit his life to Christ.
“God spoke to me,” Cooper said. “It changed my life. When you have a real revelation of how much God loves you, it changed my life.”
Cooper started attending church for the first time in years and during one sermon the pastor used the “Rocky” movie as a metaphor in his message.
As his love for Christ was reborn, so was his love for boxing.
“When I started seeking after God again He kinda started putting that little fire back in me, like maybe I can box, you know?” he recalled.
After getting back in the ring, he found a spot on the NBC reality show, “The Contender,” where he got to meet the Rocky star, Sylvester Stallone.
Even though he didn’t win the contest, the show gave Cooper an even larger platform to share his love of Christ.
“God made the show and he put it together I believe for Brent. I believe he put it together so Brent could have the desires of his heart, and the desire that Brent has now is to share Christ,” said Leeann.
Cooper, nicknamed “The Disciple,” is no longer fighting in the ring, but he still shares his faith with other athletes as a personal trainer.
He and his wife will admit it’s not so much about the boxing; it’s about being a contender fighting for the Kingdom of God.
“I’m just open to wherever God leads,” Cooper said. “I’m glad He just never gave up on me, and to anyone listening, He’ll never give up on you.”