Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, two-time heavyweight world champion boxer
Las Vegas, Fall 1985
Film: Rocky IV
Release Date: November 27, 1985
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Costume Designer: Tom Bronson
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
If he dies, he dies.
Cold-hearted Russian boxing champion and Soviet Army captain Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) has little remorse for the brutal clobbering he delivers to Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) during their exhibition fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. As Apollo indeed dies in the arms of his respected rival-turned-friend Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), Rocky takes it upon himself to avenge his fallen friend… and essentially defend the very concept of American freedom and all things red, white, and blue.
After the groundbreaking global success of Rocky (1976) propelled Stallone to stardom, the actor-and-writer added directing to his plate, making his debut with the 1940s-set Paradise Alley (1978) which—like Rocky—he also wrote and starred in. He continued feeding the franchise that made him, writing, directing, and starring in three Rocky sequels throughout the 1980s. (Stallone would not direct the 1990 sequel, Rocky V, though he did direct the 2006 continuation Rocky Balboa.)
The third highest-grossing movie of 1985, Rocky IV has remained a pop culture touchstone of the decade’s patriotic excess, as illustrated during the Creed vs. Drago match, where the flag-bedecked Apollo made his entrance surrounded by showgirls and James Brown singing “Living in America” while his three trainers—Rocky, Duke (Tony Burton), and Paulie (Burt Young) observe in their red, white, and blue Hugo Boss sweatshirts.
What’d He Wear?
Did Rocky, Duke, and Paulie all go to Hugo Boss together and decide to get matching sweatshirts? Who decided who would wear which color? I know Stallone released an improved director’s cut of Rocky IV in 2021, but I understand it still failed to answer these burning questions. (Luckily, Rocky wearing the white sweatshirt makes it all the more dramatic when it gets stained with Apollo’s blood while cradling his dying friend. I doubt this would have had the same effect had he been wearing the red or blue!)
These Hugo Boss Sports pullover sweatshirts are made of 100% cotton, structured with a zip-up funnel neck that could be turned up against the neck and tightened with a drawstring, though Rocky, Duke, and Paulie wear theirs all unzipped and folded down like a shirt collar. (Though these are often described as a “quarter-zip”, the body of the shirt itself is more of a full crew-neck, with the zip-up portion relegated only to the neck.) The zippers and drawstrings are all white, regardless of the sweatshirt color.
The sweatshirt structure isn’t necessarily raglan-sleeved, though the shoulder pieces extend down onto the bicep, where they are perpendicular to a banded piece around each arm. The sleeve-ends and hem are narrowly ribbed, and straight-entry hand pockets are positioned low along each side seam. “BOSS” is printed in an arc across the chest, above the smaller and more spaced out “HUGO BOSS”, leaving no doubt as to who made the garment. Rocky’s sweatshirt features the text in navy-blue, with the large “BOSS” logo letters bordered in red.
One of Stallone’s screen-worn Boss sweatshirts was listed on eBay earlier in 2023, selling for a whopping $75,000! Fans of the shirt may be able to find less expensive versions (that didn’t appear on screen!) on sites like eBay and Grailed.
Rocky continues wearing the short gold necklace with the boxing glove pendant that first appeared in Rocky III (1982), though it went unexplained until Rocky V (1990), depicted as a gift from Rocky’s trainer Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith), who explained that it had one of real-life boxer Rocky Marciano’s cufflinks.
According to a story Stallone shared in a Heritage Auctions listing for the screen-worn necklace, it actually did once belong to Marciano, who had given the pendant to Rat Pack comedian Joey Bishop, who—in turn—gifted it to Stallone in the late 1970s after being impressed by the first Rocky.
When not actively exercising or dressing in a suit and tie, Rocky typically spends Rocky IV wearing black gabardine double reverse-pleated trousers with on-seam side pockets, no back pockets, and straight-cut legs down to the plain-hemmed bottoms.
Rocky’s flat-soled athletic sneakers are all black, save for a light-gray stripe that extends around the back of the heel from behind each lace panel. The plain-toe uppers are black leather, with black laces tied through five black-finished eyelets.
How to Get the Look
Rocky and the rest of Apollo’s training squad keep their outside-the-ring style appropriately athletic and simple, anchored by Boss-branded sweatshirts and black trousers.
- White cotton Hugo Boss pullover sweatshirt with zip-up funnel neck (with drawstring), banded biceps, on-seam side pockets, and narrowly ribbed cuffs and hem
- Black gabardine double reverse-pleated straight-leg trousers with straight/on-seam side pockets and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black leather sneakers with light-gray rear stripe
- Gold necklace with boxing glove pendant
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.