Pope Francis has surprise ‘shadow boxing’ encounter with Holywood legend Sylvester Stallone

Pope Francis found himself shadow boxing this morning (Friday 8th September) in a light-hearted encounter with Hollywood legend Sylvester Stallone.

Stallone – known for playing Italian-American Rocky Balboa in the Oscar-winning film from 1976 – was visiting the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican City accompanied by his wife, Jennifer Flavin, and their three adult daughters Sophia, Sistine and Scarlet, as well as his brother, Frank.

Playing up to his public persona, Stallone was seen in a video sparring with the 86-year-old pontiff, starting it off by saying: ‘Ready, we box.’ He then raised his fists like a prized fighter before the pope, wearing his traditional white clothes and a skullcap, did his best imitation.

Posting afterwards about the encounter on Instagram, accompanied by an image of him holding five key rings with several keys on each, Stallone, 77, wrote: ‘Very rare and special moment. I was allowed to hold the KEYS that open EVERY single door in the entire Vatican City! Including the Sistine Chapel.

The Rocky Balboa character in the Rocky series of movies was the child in a Roman Catholic Italian-American family, reflecting the heritage of his father.

The action movie legend was in Italy promoting his Paramount+ show, Tulsa King, set to be streamed from 15th November. Earlier this week Stallone received a hero’s welcome in the southern Puglia region of Italy after travelling there to embrace his family’s Italian heritage – his family roots there go back four centuries.

He and his brother Frank were conferred with honorary citizenship of Gioia del Colle during an open-air ceremony on Wednesday evening.

“100 years ago my grandfather left this city and this was the key to his barbershop,” Stallone told the crowd as he held aloft a large rusty key.

“He was brave enough to make that journey and because of that I am here today with my family.”

Story by William Kelly, The Catholic Network