Copyright ©2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Debbie Elliott.

The tiny village of Zitiste in Serbia has suffered from years of crime, floods and landslides. But after each disaster, residents found the strength to come back. This year, the village council wanted to pay homage to that spirit with a sculpture on the town square. It turned to an American icon - Rocky Balboa.

The village hired a sculptor named Boris Staparac, but he found the project came with its own trials and tribulations. The artist spoke to us through his manager, Nenad Marinkovic(ph).

Mr. NENAD MARINKOVIC (Manager, Boris Staparac): First, the people said, why he didn't build some other type of sculpture from Serbian past, some Serbian hero or Serbian saint.

ELLIOTT: He might not be a saint, but the "Italian Stallion" has been on Serbian television for years.

Mr. MARINKOVIC: The people from the village, Zitiste, knows who the Rocky is. They watch the television in the '70s, '80s and '90s.

ELLIOTT: Younger residents formed the Rocky Balboa Citizens Association. It lobbied for the project, then the big break - a village business helped with the financing.

Mr. MARINKOVIC: They just have one company, which produced the chickens.

ELLIOTT: So with poultry money in hand, Staparac began training for his main event.

(Soundbite of song, "Gonna Fly Now")

ELLIOTT: He watched every "Rocky" movie ever made over and over and over again - even "Rocky III and V."

Mr. BORIS STAPARAC (Croatian Sculptor): I'm studying the art on Mr. Sylvester Stallone and of the "Rocky." And I could tell also that the first movie was maybe greater than the others.

ELLIOTT: Last week, Boris Staparac unveiled his creation - a nearly 10-foot statue of Sylvester Stallone, a.k.a. Rocky, overlooking the village with hands raised in victory.

(Soundbite of movie, "Rocky")

Mr. SYLVESTER STALLONE (Actor): (As Rocky Balboa) (unintelligible). I did it.

ELLIOTT: For photos of the statue, go to npr.org. If you've been to Philadelphia, you may notice a resemblance.

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