Legends #1: Sylvester Stallone – A Modern Day Polymath

By on June 7, 2014

In this series I am going to be looking at a number of legends past and present who I believe to be great inspirations for the modern day Polymath. I’ll be looking at geniuses like DaVinci and Einstein, as well as some more unexpected modern heroes.

For my first ‘hero’ I’m going to be looking at one of those ‘less expected’ modern icons. Sylvester Stallone is an actor who is synonymous with brainless action and for that reason you may have underestimated him. In fact though he’s an incredibly inspiring individual who we can learn a lot from. Read on and you’ll see why I think he’s deserving of the title ‘modern day polymath’.

sylvester stallone training

The Many Faces of Sylvester Stallone

While you might know Sylvester Stallone primarily as an actor, it’s important to recognise his achievements in other areas too. Stallone didn’t just star in Rocky for instance, but also wrote the script. The script was so good, that Hollywood executives were willing to give the relatively unknown actor a title role just to see it made. It’s now Hollywood legend that Stallone was originally offered a lot of money for the script, but that he turned it down saying that it was a no-deal unless he got to play the titular role. A role he had written expressly to showcase his acting chops.

And back then Stallone was considered a great actor. Early reviews compared him to a ‘young Marlon Brando’ which is easy to overlook now that he is known mostly for his action roles.

So Stallone is a great writer and actor, but as it turns out he’s also a director… and painter. That’s right: in his spare time Stallone developed his painting skills and today gets invited to galleries where his pieces sell for $90k plus.

You've got to love that Sly chooses to paint Superheroes too...

You’ve got to love that Sly chooses to paint Superheroes too…

On top of this Stallone has also had his own line of fitness supplements called ‘Instone’ which included a delicious ‘protein pudding’. So you can add ‘business skills’ to the list of things that he’s good at. That’s pretty much the definition of a polymath!

You’ve also got to admire the way he used his business savvy to beat the odds twice. He was practically homeless when he had the hit with the first Rocky, but since then he’s also managed to make another comeback. After slipping off the radar for a while he came back with Rocky Balboa, Rambo and then The Expendables. The first two were a hit because they were franchise films, and for the second he realised he needed to do something else that would be an ‘event’ and provide an ‘extra’ draw for viewers… and so he assembled all of the greatest action heroes from the 80s for a single movie. That’s a smart business move!

And if that wasn’t evidence enough that the guy is something of a genius, Mensa lists his IQ as 160!

Sylvester Stallone’s Training

Sylvester Stallone is also rather known for his body and was named ‘physique of the 80s’. He was never actually a bodybuilder or athlete himself (though he was inducted into the boxing hall of fame), but he did manage to get into the Guinness book of records for his super-low body fat percentage (2.8%).

Throughout this series I’ll be looking at a few different ‘action heroes’ who are a little more than meets the eye. Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dwayne Johnson and Dolph Ludgren are all impressive characters and I find it interesting that so many action heroes are accomplished in other areas. An interesting correlation…

This is when Sly challenged me to a pose down...

This is when Sly challenged me to a pose down…

What Sly also deserves a lot of credit for is his physique now. Sylvester Stallone is nearly 65 and yet he still has the body of a bodybuilder. There are very few people who can make that claim!

Keep Movin’ Forward

All this is mostly a testament to Sly’s insane will-power and determination: which is really the main ‘theme’ of the Rocky films. In those films he coined a ton of phrases that would become mantras of gym-goers everywhere. (Rocky films also provide the soundtrack that most of us work out to)

In many ways Stallone is the flip side of the same coin when compared with Arnie (who will be featuring here soon!). Both have an unstoppable determination but it seems to come from a different place. Whereas Arnie seems to revel in challenge, to enjoy being larger than life and to genuinely have no fear of failure, Sly seems to revel in darkness and draw strength from it. That’s where his art comes from, and it’s the theme of all his best films. Life can be tough, but if you’re smart and you keep at it you can come out fighting!

Or as Rocky himself puts it:

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”


About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

One Comment

  1. Jorge says:

    I never tire of watching the Rocky movies

    A great inspiration and motivation

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