Stallone disclosed to the publication that the near-fatal moment occurred in Rocky IV during the final fight scene with Dolph Lundgren, who portrays Ivan Drago in the film. After Lundgren punched him in the heart, he claimed that he ended up experiencing severe side effects, including a swollen heart.
Stallone said, “In the first round, where he knocked me down, that is for real. He pulverized me, and I did not feel it at that moment, but later that night, my heart started to swell.”
He added that, while at the hospital, he found out that Lundgren’s punch had “bruised” his perio cardio sac. “He had bruised the perio cardio sac, which is when the heart hits the chest – like in a car accident when your chest hits the steering wheel. My blood pressure went up to 260. They thought I was going to be talking to angels.”
Rocky IV, released in 1985, follows the life of Rocky Balboa (Stallone) after winning the heavyweight boxing championship. His title is ultimately challenged when Ivan Drago (Lundgren) enters the scene. Although Drago confronts Balboa for a match, his close friend Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) decides to take the offer and is later killed in the ring. In the end, Balboa accepts the fight against Drago in the Soviet Union in honor of his fallen friend and America.
The movie also starred Talia Shire, Burt Young, and Tony Burton.