John G. Avildsen, the Oscar-winning director of Rocky, has died at the age of 81.

Avildsen’s eldest son, Anthony, said the filmmaker died after battling pancreatic cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to the LA Times.

Probably best know for his work with Sylvester Stallone, Avildsen won best director for his picture ‘Rocky’ n 1976, turning a young boxer from south Philadelphia into the heavyweight champion of the world.

“When this script came to me from an old friend … I said I had no interest in boxing, I think boxing’s sort of a dumb thing,”Avildsen previously said of the film. “He pleaded and pleaded, so I finally read the thing. And on the second or third page, he’s talking to his turtles, Cuff and Link. I was charmed by it, and I thought it was an excellent character study and a beautiful love story. And I said yes.”

With an incredible ability to transform underdog characters into relatable heroes, the director exhibited his skill again eight years after the release of Rocky when he worked on the now iconic movie ‘The Karate Kid’ (1984).

R.I.P.

Director John G. Avildsen

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