"Prediction? ... Pain."
- Clubber Lang in Rocky III
James "Clubber" Lang is a heavyweight boxer from Chicago, and acts as the main antagonist in Rocky III. He was a boxer that was previously undefeated and became the world's top contender to Balboa. He challenged Rocky Balboa to a boxing match and knocked out Rocky in the second round. However, during the rematch between the two at Madison Square Garden, Rocky defeated Lang via knockout, stripping Lang of the title, and handing Lang his first loss. Lang is not featured in any other Rocky films. He is portrayed by Mr. T, who never again played the role of an antagonist in his career.
James Lang was orphaned at an early age, and spent most of his childhood on the streets of Chicago's Southside, as well as time in orphanages and juvenile facilities. Later as an adult, Clubber was sent to prison for five years, for one possible count of a felony and/or assault charge. But during his time being served he discovered boxing as a way to let out his frustrations and talent, which leads to the events of Rocky III. This is also evident in the game, Rocky: Legends, where if the player selects Clubber's path, he starts out fighting in the Chicago Prison, in a ring actually inside the prison itself. One novelisation of the film called Lang's manager "Donut."
Lang's Rise to the Top
If the player chooses Lang's path in Rocky Legends we learn that Lang started out in the Chicago state prison, this is where Lang developed a love for fighting and boxing. Lang get's into a confrontation with fellow prisoner Jack Jarrell. The two turn out to be scheduled for a fight in a boxing tournament held within the prison, Lang wins the fight and is released from prison not long after.
Lang would then begin watching Rocky Balboa's rise to the top, which began to bother him. Lang then decided to turn pro.
Since winning the title from Creed, Rocky has become a major celebrity with many endorsement deals. Rocky wins 10 consecutive title defence matches against opponents that are said to be ‘’out of Balboas league.
While Balboa continues to win fights, Clubber Lang works his way up the ranks winning around 10 consecutive fights by knockout. Lang wins a number one contender fight for the title. Lang is then seen yelling at Rocky’s trainer Mickey after this bout saying, ‘’I want Balboa… I want Balboa, you hear me old man, you tell Balboa, NOBODY CAN BEAT ME, you tell him what I said, he's next, I’m gonna kill him, nobody can stop me, you tell Balboa that, I’m coming after him. You tell him!’’
Lang is displayed as being annoyed at the relative ease with which Rocky wins the bouts. Lang was being interviewed when he says ‘’I want a shot at the title, Balboa got the guts he’ll meet me in the ring or anywhere else. My whole life been directed to this title and nothing else, I live alone, I train alone, I’ll win the title alone, I want him, he can’t duck me forever, he can run but he can’t hide’’. After Lang says this, the sports anchor says that Lang will have to wait since Balboa just defended his title for the 10th time and that Balboa has also agreed to face the World Wrestling champion Thunderlips, the more he has to wait the angrier it makes Lang. Lang is seen sitting in the stands during Rocky’s exhibition with Thunderlips, he looks annoyed and disgruntled.
Lang shows up at the unveiling of Rocky’s statue as Rocky begins his speech he announces that he is considering retiring. Lang then pushes through the crowd saying ‘’getting out while you can?, don’t give this sucka no statue, give him guts!!, I told you I wasn’t going away, you got your shot now give me mine!’’ Mickey responds to Lang by telling him to get the hell out of here, Lang aggressively looks towards Mickey and says ‘’Shut up old man, I ain’t going nowhere’’ Lang then says ’’They don’t want a man like me to have the title because I’m not a puppet like that fool up there’’ Rocky finally responds telling Lang he has a big mouth. Lang then puts his fists up and tells Balboa to do something about it, Balboa proceeds to walk down towards Lang when Mickey stops him. Lang proceeds to tell everyone that he is the number 1 ranked fighter in the world, also that Balboa has been taking fights from other bums the ‘’easy matches’’ and that he will fight Balboa anywhere and anytime. Lang continues insulting Balboa saying he isn’t a real man and that he’s a coward, after he makes a sexual remark toward Rocky's wife Adrian, his challenge is accepted.
Lang trains the same for this fight as his other fights and does not hire any trainers and works out in a squalid building using an old punching bag, a floor mat, a mirror and rope attach to a door way. Lang pushes himself to the limit during his training focusing on strength and power, by doing sit ups, pull ups, punching the punching bag and boxing in front of the mirror, Lang trains by himself for the entire time in his quiet building, allowing him to put his full concentration into his training. Unlike Balboa who works out with a myriad of equipment and a large crowd, who consistently interrupt his training.
Before the fight, Lang is seen preparing in his locker room, which is full of media asking Lang questions about the fight, but Lang continues to ignore them and tell them he wants to be alone eventually Lang snaps and hits his locker and then walks over to the media members and knocks their cameras to the ground. As Balboa leaves his locker room and heads out towards the ring, Lang also leaves his locker room and yells out to Balboa ‘’Ay Sucka, Balboa you through, you washed up’’. Balboa fires back at Lang which angers him, having both men trying to get through the crowd to get to each other, and during the pushing, Lang pushes Mickey over, this caused him to fall and have a heart attack, and later die.
Apollo Creed, guest commentating, enters the ring to shake both fighters’ hands. Creed approaches Lang to shake his hand, Lang slaps Creed’s hand away and says ’’Get out my face, don’t need nothing you ain’t got no more, don’t need no has-been messing up my corner and you better get that bad look off your face before I knock it off’’. Creed has a strong disliking to Lang after this and tells Balboa to do everyone a favour and ’’drop this chump’’. When the two fighters meet in the middle of the ring, Lang does not take his eyes off of Balboa. Lang then says ‘’Dead meat’’.
Rocky bursts out of his corner throwing hook after hook and body shot after body shot, the punches seem to be having no effect on Lang and when Lang decides to start hitting back, he unleashes deadly hooks onto Balboa at one stage trapping him in the corner and throwing hook after hook. The damage of Langs punches begin to show as Rocky has several cuts on his face and a badly bruised eye and the round ends with Lang showing his power and strength.
The second round is completely dominated by Lang, he unleashes more hooks onto Balboa until he throws one finally hook and Balboa falls and stays down for the 10 count. Lang wins the fight by KO, stays undefeated and becomes the new World Champion.
After Balboa agrees to train with Creed, he calls out Lang and asks for a rematch, Lang would respond during an interview on TV by saying ‘’I reject the challenge, because Balboa is no challenge, but I'd be more than happy to beat up on him some more’’. The interviewer proceeds to ask what Lang thought of Balboa being trained by Apollo Creed which he replies by saying ‘’Apollo who? You talking bout that old fool Apollo Creed, shucks, one has-been is enough, all Apollo been doing is running off at the mouth lately and when I see him I’m gonna close it for him. When asked when the fight will take place, Lang says ‘’the sooner the better’’ he goes on to say that he can’t be beat and that he will train even harder this time and make sure there is no quick knock down ‘’I’m gonna torture him, I’m gonna crucify him real bad’’.
Before the fight Lang is interviewed in his locker room, he is asked for his prediction for the fight. Lang simply says, "Prediction? ... Pain." As Lang walks to the ring, he has failed to gain the kind of admiration and respect Rocky did when he defeated Creed. Although Lang gained a small fan base of "Clubber fans", the large share of the audience booed him. On his way to the ring a spectator jumps out in front of Lang and Lang pushes him back into the crowd. Lang enters the ring and immediately looks at Balboa saying ‘’Ay fool you ready for another beating, you should have never came back’’. Rocky and Creed pay Lang no attention.
Lang then hovers around Creed and starts saying ‘’Ay boy…. Ay boy’’ Lang gets Creeds attention, and Creed turns around, Lang proceeds to say ‘’after I crucify him, your next’’ which Creed simply responds with ‘’just stay out of my face chump’’. Creed then turns his back on Lang, which angers Lang. Lang proceeds to push Creed from behind and say ‘’Don’t turn your back on me’’ after the corner men separates them, Lang goes to his corner. When the men meet in the middle of the ring, once again Lang does not take his eyes off of Balboa.
Lang stares right at Balboa and says ‘’I’m gonna bust you up’’ which Balboa replies by saying ‘’go for it’’. Just like the last fight Balboa comes right out of his corner and unleashes a flurry of jabs onto Lang, however, these didn't seem to deter Lang too much physically, but his temper built, and Lang begins throwing hooks wildly, but every hook Lang threw Balboa ducked or weaved out of the way. Lang threw around 15-20 punches in the first round with none of them connecting, while Balboa connected with all of his punches. Lang did not seem fazed by the punches physically.
In the second round Balboa started it just like the last round, hitting Lang with a few punches while once again ducking and weaving Lang’s hooks. Lang finally gets a break when he pushes Balboa into the corner and brutally unleashes with hook after hook busting Balboa open, but after Balboa finally gets out of the corner Lang still continues to punish him with hooks, knocking him to the ground. Balboa gets up before the 10 count and once again Lang unleashes more punches and knocks Balboa down again. Balboa is able to get up before the 10 count for the second time. Just before the round ends Balboa puts his gloves in front of his face and Lang punches Balboa's arms over and over, trying to break the defense. As the round ends Balboa says ‘’you ain’t so bad, huh? You ain’t so bad’’ and puts his glove on Langs head and pushes him.
In the third round, Balboa started to block Lang's extremely powerful blows, and even started to taunt him like he did at the end of the second round, prompting Lang's temper to build, and prompting Lang to throw even more punches. However, due to Rocky's blocking techniques, Lang's extremely powerful punches weren’t connecting fully and due to fatigue, weren’t doing as much damage, eventually Lang fatigued severely, being near incapable of landing his blows onto Rocky. Balboa then unleashed punch after punch mainly targeting Lang’s body to gas him even more. Lang would then fall and was unable to get up before the count of 10, therefore suffering his first ever loss and losing his title to Balboa.
Clubber Lang, the hard-hitting brawler, has a character which is much like his boxing style: direct, aggressive and brutal. His fighting style and record show a similarity to a young George Foreman and perhaps Mike Tyson (although it would be a few years after the film's debut that Tyson would become a renowned boxer). His quest for respect from pro boxing and the media is similar to Larry Holmes. Also, he is mentioned by a reporter that he is a southpaw like Rocky. However, there is a weakness in this fighting style, as Lang relied entirely on knockout punches, and never made serious effort to study combos or technique. This allows him to fatigue severely if he doesn't make quick work of his opponents, which Balboa exploited in their rematch, knocking out Lang fairly early, in just the third round.
Personality and TraitsClubber Lang was very belligerent and had a violent temper. He argues several times in the movie and loves to crash parties and ruin people's celebrations, as he did when the citizens of Philadelphia put up a statue of Rocky Balboa. While his fighting style suggests he is supposed to be like George Foreman, his personality and quest for respect after champions of grace like Apollo Creed and Rocky is similar to how Larry Holmes dealt with the press when he became champion after Muhammad Ali. He is also overconfident and wants people to known how great he thinks he is which is shown when he proclaimed to Mickey that he was unstoppable and that Rocky would never beat him and when he told his opponent that he would knock him out easily like the last time. This attitude eventually lead to Rocky's victory who used wits and techniques rather than hits. He is also shown to be a sore loser when he was defeated by Rocky, he was upset and crying.
Clubber Lang's story starts in a state pennitentiary in Illinois, where he was serving a sentence for an unspecified offense. As part of an athletic program, boxing matches were organized, where Clubber fought another inmate. After that fight, a scene is shown where the guards are freeing Lang now that his punishment is over. Now a free man, Clubber Lang seeks to enter the pro boxing world, beginning at low-venue places like clubs and traveling shows then working up to tougher circuits. The story then revolves around the events of Rocky III and culminates in his victory over Rocky in New York City.
- Clubber Lang was the only villainous role that Mr. T has ever played in his career.
- Most of Mr. T's famous quotes have came from this character, such as "I pity the fool"., which has often been misassociated with his better known role on The A-Team. However, the phrase was reused in Mister T, an animated cartoon showing a heroic Mr. T who helped kids solve crimes. One piece of merchandise associated with the cartoon was a bookmark with Mr. T saying "I pity the fool who loses his place in this book!"
- Mr. T. was reportedly considered for a cameo appearance in Rocky Balboa where he would have reprised his role as Clubber Lang. Had he accepted, his role would have shown him retired from boxing and now working as a sportscaster giving ringside commentary, and would have shown him as an older and wiser man who is now more gentlemanly. When asked about his past confrontation with Rocky, Lang was to be more respectful of his former adversary in retrospect.
- "Dead meat!"
- "I want Balboa"
- "No, I don't hate Balboa, but I pity the fool, and I will destroy any man who tries to take what I got!"
- "I'm the baddest man in the world"
- "I'm gonna torture him. I'm gonna crucify him. Real bad"
- "I'm going to bust you up"
- "I'm the champ, I´m the champ and I beat you like last time"
Rocky Balboa- Before the fight