No Capes, No Mask, No Problem- My heroes

I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs that when I go jogging I quite often think of the Rocky movies which I see as quite inspirational, and last night I watched the first two movies again. While jogging today I got thinking about why Rocky is one of my heroes and other fictional characters I admire.

I also thought about real life people I see as heroes, so here’s a list of my non-superpowered heroes.

Rocky Balboa from the Rocky movies

Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) is one of the most inspiring fictional characters I can think of. He’s a down-on-his-luck boxer who gets a shot at glory and seizes it with both hands.

Realising that nobody expects him to win he decides to simply go the distance and come away with his pride. Then over the gruelling bout with Apollo Creed he refuses to give up and every time he gets knocked down he gets right back up. His spirit and determination is admirable.

And during the entire series he shows the same determination and integrity, while remaining a thoroughly decent bloke. Rewatching the first two installments I realised that what really hooks you in is the extremely sweet love story between Rocky and Adrian (Talia Shire).

During the second film the only thing that goads him back into the ring isn’t what other people think of him, but the fact he has to prove to himself that the first fight wasn’t a fluke and he has what it takes. Throughout the film people mock him, or look down on him yet he doesn’t let it bother him, he seems happy enough helping people train and helping out at the gym.

Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird

Harper Lee’s novel remains one of my favourite books of all time, and a large part of that is the character of Atticus Finch. The father of the narrator, Scout and an incredibly moral figure. Throughout the book he comes across like the perfect Dad.

He gives good advice to his kids, gives them strong moral values to live by and treats them with respect.

Also Finch defends a black man accused of rape in the simmering tensions of the Deep South, approaching the case with passion and integrity despite knowing that in doing so he is making a futile stand and risking public scorn and hatred. Yet he knows his client’s innocence and right to have as fair a trial as possible.

Atticus is so without flaws that it shouldn’t work, but yet he does. He shows humour with his children and his decency never seems false, and its all brilliantly portrayed by Gregory Peck in the fantastic film adaptation.

Peck as Atticus

Lance Armstrong

I read his book over the summer and you can’t help but admire the dude’s perseverance and grit. Not only does he overcome the cancer but he continues to return to the top of his field. Also in his book he’s not afraid to talk about his failings and fears, making him a truly inspiring figure.

Danny Wallace

He set up his own cult that encouraged people to do good deeds on Fridays. And in Yes Man he showed the good things that can come as a result of taking chances and seizing opportunities. Low key they may be but his funny, charming books are wonderful and positive things.

Aron Ralston

The author of Between A Rock And A Hard Place is a real life tough guy. A boulder traps his arm and Ralston has the presence of mind to realise how long he needs to survive for before people start looking for him, while most of us would merely have become blubbering messes.

Realising he must act Ralston amputates his own arm and then hikes back out of the canyon. Now that is bad ass.

The book is well worth checking out and Ralston is a likable and funny narrator and the whole story is completely captivating.

Taylor Stevens

When I first came across Taylor Stevens (man, as unintentional double entendres go that one’s pretty good) she stood out merely as a really sexy, sweet-seeming, busty pornstar. However, later I discovered that Taylor was fighting cancer and I admired her even more. I follow her on Twitter and her optimism, good will and spirit is unbelievable. She hasn’t allowed her illness to sour her outlook or crush her, and I think that shows genuine strength of character.

She’s also still super-hot.

Joe Miller from Philadelphia

For me, Denzel Washington’s performance in Philadelphia is the best part of the film, don’t get me wrong Hanks is class as well, but for me its all about Washington’s Miller.

Joe Miller isn’t some saintly figure, he’s a regular dude. An ambulance chasing lawyer who shows ignorance and prejudice with regards to homosexuality and the AIDS virus, however, faced with the injustice of Andrew Beckett’s (Hanks) firing. The crusading lawyer in him makes him take the case and over the course of the film he overcomes his prejudice and gains understanding, while also forming a friendship with Beckett.

Its his flaws that make him a hero, his sense of justice is admirable and so strong he overlooks his prejudices, and then he shows open-mindedness in overcoming these. And then he uses his empathy and personality to make the big speech that wins over the jury.

Derek Redmond

Years ago I watched Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Tearjerker moments and one of them was the story of Derek Redmond at the 1992 Olympics. Midway during the race, Redmond, who’d been tipped for a medal finish pulled a hamstring and collapsed in agony, yet he dragged himself back to his feet and hobbled around the rest of the track, determined to finish the race, having to be supported by his father for much of it. The moment was genuinely inspiring and heartbreaking and as a result I was crying like a baby by the end. I found the video here and while the music is extremely cheesy it does tell the whole story quite well.

Anyway, those are some of my heroes, I’d be interested to know who other people pick. So let me know your heroes.




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