Carl Weathers, former champ Apollo Creed in Rocky movies, dies at 76

Carl Weathers, who portrayed Apollo Creed, principal antagonist-turned-ally in the first four Rocky films, has died at the age of 76. 

Weathers, born in New Orleans, Louisiana in January 1948, shot to fame with his role as Creed, the defending heavyweight champion who gave a shot to plucky underdog Rocky Balboa in Sylvester Stallone’s Academy award-winning 1976 movie. Creed returned to give Balboa a rematch in 1979’s Rocky II, joined forces with Stallone’s Balboa to take on Mr. T’s Clubber Lang in Rocky III, and (spoiler alert) met his demise at the fists of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. In the reboot of the franchise, Michael B. Jordan plays his character’s son in the Creed movies.

Following his first appearance as Creed, Weathers starred alongside Stallone’s action hero rival Arnold Schwarzenegger in the science fiction classic Predator

“It puts you on the map and makes your career, so to speak,” Weathers said of his role as Creed in a 2017 interview with The Daily Beast. “Fortunately those movies kept coming, and Apollo Creed became more and more in people’s consciousness.” Last year, he told The Detroit News that, because of his role as Creed, “I experienced what it was like to be a part of something that was really well-received and received a lot of adulation. So I guess my response to it all is, how fortunate am I?” 

More recently, Weathers had become known to a whole new generation of fans as Greef Karga in the Disney + series The Mandalorian. He also gained further cult status as golf legend in Adam Sandler’s 1996 classic Happy Gilmore

In a statement, his family described Weathers as “an exceptional human being who lived an extraordinary life. Through his contributions to film, television, the arts and sports, he has left an indelible mark and is recognized worldwide and across generations. He was a beloved brother, father, grandfather, partner, and friend.”