The day Rambo met his match with Beattie

HE is the Hollywood action hero who is still going strong at 61, with his rippling physique meaning he can still bring Rocky and Rambo to life on the big screen.

Craig Robinson

HE is the Hollywood action hero who is still going strong at 61, with his rippling physique meaning he can still bring Rocky and Rambo to life on the big screen.

But there was one occasion when Sylvester Stallone definitely met his match - and more than 25 years later he may still shudder at a humbling defeat to Ipswich Town legend Kevin Beattie.

The powerhouse defender was one of a host of Blues players who joined the filming of classic football film Escape To Victory in 1981, alongside the movie's big star Stallone.

And, after word had got around about Beattie's extraordinary strength, the screen star caught up with the footballer in the bar and challenged him to an arm wrestle.

“We had finished for the day and I was at the bar with Russell Osman and John Wark and we were winding each other up,” Beattie said. “Somehow we started chatting about arm wrestling and there was a lot of laughing and joking.

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“I was just sitting there and Stallone came over and asked if I'd like to give him an arm wrestle. I said 'by all means, no problem'.

“He had muscles on his muscles but I don't remember him being that tall. I just thought I'd give it a go - I'd always been quite strong. Anyway I ended up beating him and I don't think he talked to me again for the rest of the film!

“Stallone got a bit of a shock but it's a good claim to fame. I guess I was naturally strong. I used to carry the bags of coal for my dad and when I was at the gym at Portman Road I was one of the only ones who could lift all the weights.”

Beattie played a starring role in Town's FA Cup win against Arsenal in 1978 but he missed out on the UEFA Cup final with a broken arm.

He made his debut for England in 1975 but only collected nine caps for his country and was forced to retire through injury at the age of 28, after also turning out for Colchester United.

Beattie appeared in Escape to Victory as a double for Michael Caine alongside other Town players Russell Osman, John Wark, Laurie Sivell and Paul Cooper - who doubled for Stallone.

The film - about a football team at a Nazi prisoner of war camp during the Second World War - also featured Bobby Moore, Pele and Ossie Ardiles.

Stallone, who in 1987 starred in Over the Top - a film based around an arm wrestling tournament, played the team goalkeeper.

Beattie, who was PFA Young Player of the Year in 1974, said: “Next to winning the cup, the birth of my children and my marriage to my wife, filming Escape to Victory were some of the best days of my life.

“Michael Caine was such a gentleman, a really lovely guy, and we had a great laugh.”

Beattie Vs Stallone

Kevin “The Diamond” Beattie

Height: 5ft10in

Age: 55

Birthplace: Carlisle, Cumbria

Awards: 1973 Texaco Cup winner, 1974 PFA Young Player of the Year and 1978 FA Cup winner

Films: Escape to Victory

Sylvester “Sly” Stallone

Height: 5ft10in

Age: 61

Birthplace: New York City, New York

Awards: 1976 Academy Award for Best Picture for Rocky

Films: Rocky, Rambo: First Blood, Escape to Victory, Demolition Man, Cliffhanger and Cop Land.

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