- "I must break you."
- ―Ivan Drago to Rocky Balboa[src]
Ivan Drago is a Russian boxer, Olympian, an Infantry Captain for the Soviet Army, and was the main antagonist in Rocky IV. He was an amateur boxer and Olympic gold medallist from the Soviet Union, armed with a punch over 2,000 psi. Although he was able to easily defeat and kill Rocky Balboa's friend and trainer, Apollo Creed, he was later knocked out by Balboa.
The Soviet Union was extremely arrogant in Drago's abilities; however, Drago never bragged about it. His wife, Ludmilla Drago, spoke for him at press conferences, with Drago simply staring at the press without saying anything. He was given several nicknames, such as the Siberian Bull, the Siberian Express, and even Death from Above, referring to Drago's height and Apollo's death at the hands of Drago.
Drago's style was based on size, strength, and mental resilience. He was vicious and relentless, not stopping until he finished an opponent. He was extremely determined in the ring, capable of outworking any opponent. Drago was also incredibly strong, a single punch impacting with the force of over two thousand pounds per square inch, hence the expression that whatever he hits, he destroys. Ivan Drago also showed surprising agility for his size, demonstrated in his elusiveness during the Apollo Creed fight. Drago tended to become more aggressive as fights went on. Drago, however, wasn't capable of enduring consistent punishment, which contributed to his loss against Rocky Balboa.
- "I...cannot be defeated!"
- ―Ivan Drago[src]
Ivan Drago is an Olympic gold medalist and an amateur boxing champion from the Soviet Union. He was billed at 6 ft 5 in (196 cm) and 260 pounds (118 kg, over 18 ½ stone). His strongest punch is over over 2100 psi, and his average was 1850 psi. The average psi for a heavyweight boxer is only 700 psi. He is also an infantry Captain in the Soviet Army and was a recipient of the Hero of the Soviet Union award. Drago was carefully trained to be the consummate fighter. His heart rate and punching power are constantly measured during his workouts. Drago is seen receiving intramuscular injections, implied to be anabolic steroids, though the actual nature of the injected solution is never explicitly stated.
Drago is married to another athlete, Ludmilla Vobet Drago who is a double gold medalist in swimming. She is more articulate than Drago, who seldom talks, and always spoke on his behalf at press conferences and interviews. She dismissed allegations of Drago's steroid use, explaining her husband's freakish size and strength by saying, "he is like your Popeye. He eats his spinach every day!"
Drago's Rise to Fame in Russia
Ivan Drago's history is revealed in Rocky Legends, if the player chooses the path of Drago. In the first scene, Sergei Igor Rimsky (Future Main Trainer) and Nicolai Koloff (Future Political Adviser) are seen warming themselves up, as they prepare to watch fights between soldiers from the Red Army and decide which is ideal for a career in professional boxing. Drago's first fight is against Alexei Baluk, a fellow soldier.
After beating Baluk, Rimsky, Koloff and other scouts choose Drago as their prospect. Drago is trained in Soviet Russia, and defeats a series of other boxers. He had an impressive amateur record of 31 wins, 0 losses, 0 draws and 27 knockouts. The ultimate fight in the USSR is on the deck of a warship, where Drago is pitted against the best boxer in the Red Navy. After Drago wins that fight, his Soviet trainers were convinced that he would beat any boxer in the world. They flew to America in hopes of booking a title fight against the World Champion Rocky Balboa, convinced Drago could defeat the American and take the title. This was announced at the press conference held as soon as Drago got off the plane. This press conference was seen by retired professional boxer Apollo Creed.
Rocky IVAfter watching the broadcast of 24 year old Drago challenging Balboa to a title fight, Apollo Creed, who was 42 years old, came out of a five year retirement to challenge the Russian to an exhibition match, which was promoted by Rocky Balboa. Creed and the American press thought Creed would win due to his experience, out boxing the less experienced Drago. Creed got on the bad side of the Soviet delegation, and a small melee ensued, to the chagrin of Drago.
At the pre-fight show, Drago was booed by the American crowd who heavily favored Creed. When the fight commenced, Creed appeared to be doing well, landing multiple jabs; however, they didn't seem to faze Drago. Near the latter half of the round, Drago started hitting Creed hard, quieting the crowd and bloodying Creed. In the second round, Drago maintained his momentum, landing multiple blows to the now fatigued Creed.
Drago dropped Creed with a looping left hook that left him unresponsive on the canvas. Drago was awarded the victory, and in regards to Creed's fatal injuries, Drago said, "If he dies... he dies."
After the fight, the Soviets urged Balboa to fight Drago in a match for the title. At the press conference, the fight was set: in the USSR, on Christmas day, for no money whatsoever. Balboa made it clear to everyone that he would attempt to avenge Creed's death at the hands of Drago, now labelled "Death from Above". During the conference, the Soviets belittled Balboa, claiming that Drago would win for certain, due to Drago's superior genetics.
After the conference, Drago recommenced training with state-of-the-art equipment. His punches measured over 2000 PSI compared to the 1850 PSI before the fight with Creed. He is seen lifting extreme amounts of weight and running around a private track, whilst his personal trainers tracked the minutiae of Drago's biology, monitoring even his heart rate. He is also given PED's, contrary the Soviets earlier denial of PED use.
As the fighters entered the ring, it was made clear that the Soviet crowed heavily favored Drago and disliked Balboa due to his nationality. In the first round of the fight, Ivan had the upper-hand. Rocky was already cut and bleeding by the end of the first round! Despite Drago's impressive performance in the first round, his trainers place an exceptional amount of pressure on him, expecting Drago to dominate Balboa more. In the second round, Drago continually lands blows on Balboa, and knocks him down, much to the chagrin of Balboa's trainers, and Adrian Balboa.
As the rounds progressed, it became an evenly-matched fight. At the end of the second round, Rocky landed a blow that left the Siberian Express with a cut under his left eye, astonishing the crowd. Rocky also forced Drago into a corner, continuously punching him, even after the bell. This prompted a small melee. The fight became progressively more gruesome, as the two boxers exchanged blows for the next several rounds. In the twelfth round, Balboa started to blunt Drago's efforts to best him, and Balboa gave Drago some pressure. Then, portions of the crowd started to cheer for Balboa, for his perseverance, and challenge that he posed to Drago.For the next few rounds, Balboa began to gain the upper-hand, much to the surprise of both Drago and his cornermen. At the end of the fourteenth round, Nicolai Koloff became so furious that he personally got to Drago's corner, and started to rant at him for how his performance was weak, to the point where the Soviet's started cheering for Balboa, and how Drago needed to win, or else. Drago's temper then snaps, prompting him to grab and hold Koloff by the neck, and throw him into the audience, exclaiming "I fight for me! FOR ME!", contrarily to how Soviets suggested that Drago was fighting for his country. Drago then commences the final round with Balboa. Similarly to Babloa's fight with James "Clubber" Lang, Balboa started taunting Drago, asking him to throw real punches, which prompted the then infuriated Drago to throw more punches, but to little avail. Much like Lang, Drago fatigued severely, rendering him helpless as Balboa rallied several punches against Drago, uppercutting him into a knockdown. Due to his fatigue, Drago was incapable of answering the count, and nearly fell out of the ring. He was awarded the loss via knockout in the fifteenth, and final round.
Events after Rocky IV
According to Rocky: The Ultimate Guide, Ivan Drago wasn't permitted to resume his boxing career after his loss to Rocky Balboa because of the special circumstance that he could not officially turn pro in the USSR. However, the fall of the Soviet Union several years after the fight resulted in greater liberty in this society, and allowed Drago a chance to turn pro. Although Drago's post-Soviet career was impressive, resulting in 14 wins, 1 loss, 0 draws and 14 knockouts, he never made another attempt to go after the championship due to promotional politics.
Todd Noy's 1989 book 'Drago: On Mountains we Stand' chronicles the rise of Ivan Drago after his defeat in Moscow. The book is affectionately referred to as Noy's 'final masterpiece'.
As of 2015 a copyright was filed with the USPTO listed as a Rocky IV spinoff titled: DRAGO. In November of 2016, a screenplay with matching UPSTO copyright was listed on "The Blacklist" website.
In Ivan Drago's storyline in Rocky: Legends, and you have got to the part where he has killed Apollo Creed, Rocky Balboa challenges Drago. Instead of Rocky defeating Drago like he did in Rocky IV, Drago actually defeats Rocky and receives a medal from the Soviet Union after the fight.
Ivan Drago: Justice Enforcer
After the match, Drago was locked up in the Soviet Embassy for years. Gorbachev, knowing of Drago's power, released him into the streets of the United States after briefing Drago on his mission. Drago was attacked by several people. Sporto McJockitch attacked first, some of them followed by their girlfriends, who did no damage. Ivan defeated these, only to be met by Stabby Jenkins, a short man with a dagger. He killed these and moved on.
Next, he met someone unusual—Segway Jerkwad. Segway was a cyborg (presumably), he had a wheel attached where his legs and feet were supposed to be. Segway attacked immediately, but Drago was able to defeat the cyborg. Then he met another unusual sight, a cowboy. The cowboy tried really hard with his lasso to strangle him, but Drago was able to defeat him, too. 
Next came Pauly's Robot, another machine, that did not attack. Drago destroyed the robot as well. After that, Mafioso Alfredo, a man dressed in black with a small pistol, attacked. Drago dodged all the bullets he could and killed Alfredo. . He also met Serial mom whom the criminals used to fool Drago, but to no avail, and he, in disgust, killed her and the baby was a doll filled with blood which did not fool Drago at all.
Then came Herbert the Dinosaur, a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The T-Rex used all its might to kill Drago, but in the end, Drago defeated it. He then fought several more of the criminals before entering Mighty Mick's Gym. Drago fought a cyborg of Apollo Creed and eventually Rocky Balboa, who was confined to a wheelchair.
Personality and Traits
- "I fight for me! FOR ME!"
- ―Ivan Drago[src]
Unlike the opponent from the previous movie, Clubber Lang, Drago is a man of few words. In the movie, his wife always spoke for him during interviews, as Drago simply looked at the cameras, whilst occasionally looking at others. He is a individual who hates being treated like an object of somebody else's intentions. He seems to be a very pitiless and cold-hearted person, as shown when he comments on Apollo's death: "If he dies, he dies", feeling no remorse for his actions. Drago also is remembered for saying "I must break you" to Rocky Balboa immediately before the match begins. Drago seems to be fighting for his country (as the Soviet officials indicate), but as one of his promoters starts yelling at him in the fourteenth round for not fulfilling expectations, Drago angrily lifted the promoter by the neck, and threw him into the crowd, exclaiming, "I fight for me! FOR ME!"
- "There are rumors of widespread distrubution of anabolic steroids throughout the Soviet Union. Has Drago partaken in any of these?"
Drago received an injection of anabolic steroids during a training scene. (He is not human, he is a piece of iron) The steroids were also featured in the online game Ivan Drago: Justice Enforcer. Although noncanon, Ivan Drago: Justice Enforcer identifies the steroids as Vodka and other famous drugs and steroids. Please note this is noncanon.
Behind the scenes
- Drago's line, I must break you, has become so popular among fans that they have created a T-shirt featuring Drago and the line below it.
- Drago was fighting for the Soviet Union, but later, he also later reveals he is also fighting for himself, a microcosm of how even in a highly regulated, centrally planned economy like the USSR, individuality can surface.
- 2,000 psi is more powerful than the discharge of a shotgun at close range.
- Unlike Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, and Mason Dixon, Drago is the only major on-screen opponent who never defeated Rocky in the ring.
- Despite Rocky IV's perception of Drago's size and his considerable height over Apollo Creed. Actor's Dolph Lundgren and Carl Weathers share only a three inch difference in height in reality. Lungdren stands at 6'5", while Weathers stands at 6'2". Scenes with the actors together were shot either at an angle or occasionally with Lundgren standing on an apple box.
- Dolph Lundgren and Sylvester Stallone would do another film years later called The Expendables, only this time they are teammates as part of a commando unit. Hidden references to Rocky are implied, as the two characters remark about deja vu.
Ivan Drago's history is clearly seen in Rocky Legends if the player chooses the path of Drago. In the first scene, his (not yet) main trainer and the political adviser (more like scouts) are seen warming themselves up, likely to pick a boxer out of upcoming soldiers from the USSR Army. Drago is chosen to fight a man called Baluk, and Drago is seen fighting in army trunks. Beating Baluk, the scouts become his trainers, showing him his training quarter. Then Drago fights his way through many fighters, thus reaching Rocky Balboa.
- Rocky IV (First appearance)
- Rocky V (In short movie clips)
- Rocky (1987 Video Game)
- Rocky video game
- Rocky: Legends
- Ivan Drago: Justice Enforcer (Non-canonical appearance)