Sylvester Stallone was born and raised on the tough-as-nails streets of Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen by Frank Stallone Sr. and Jacqueline Stallone. Growing up in the household was a rough ordeal for both Sylvester and his brother, Frank Stallone Jr., who stated in the film, “Our mother and father — it was like clockwork, I’d be up in bed and you’d just hear them screaming and yelling.”
Sly makes note of his father’s physically abusive tendencies, particularly two key traumatizing memories involving games of polo. His father got into the sport after moving to Maryland and Sly started playing professionally at age 13. During one game, his father continuously criticized Sly from the stands before getting on the field and ripping him from his horse. This moment halted Sylvester from playing the game until he turned 40, when he competed against his father. Frank Stallone Sr. struck his son while riding, throwing him to the ground and hurting his back. The incident prompted Sylvester to sell his horse and polo supplies, vowing to never play the game again.
Acting as an overwhelming symbol of pain and anger in his life, Sly’s dad served as an inspiration for many of his key characters. Stallone called upon the built-up frustration towards his father during Rocky’s argument with Mickey (Burgess Meredith) in his apartment in the original “Rocky.” Similarly, many of John Rambo’s grimaces and aggressive tendencies originated from Stallone’s dad.