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Ivan Drago ( ) is a fictional character in the film Rocky IV (1985). He is portrayed by Dolph Lundgren. The character and his catchphrases have gone on to inspire multiple mentions in popular culture, including in the Family Guy episode "Brian Goes Back to College", film Disaster Movie, as well as the name of Michiganmarker heavy metal band, If He Dies He Dies.

Fictional character biography

Drago is characterized as a tall (6 ft 5 in or 196 cm) and powerful amateur boxing champion from Russiamarker, as well as a former Olympic gold medalist. He is also a Captain in the Red Army and as seen on his chest, is a recipient of the Hero of the Soviet Union award. He is billed at 261 pounds (118 kg, over 18 ½ stone). Drago's reputation is that of a superman; he wields a super punch from 1850 to 2150 psi whereas the average psi for a boxer is 800psi-1,000psi. Drago is carefully fitted and trained to be the consummate fighter, with his heart rate and punching power constantly measured via computers during his workouts. Drago is seen receiving injections throughout the movie (presumably anabolic steroids, though this is never explicitly stated).

Drago is married to another athlete, Ludmilla Drago (Brigitte Nielsen) who is mentioned to be a gold medalist in swimming. She is much more social than Ivan and always speaks on his behalf at press conferences and interviews.

Due to the fact that his name does not exist in Russia, and the way the announcer mentions his name in Moscow (as Draga), some believe that he may actually be Belorussianmarker. However, unstressed O's at the end of Russian words are always pronounced this way.


Unlike Apollo Creed and the brash Clubber Lang (Mr. T), Rocky's opponents in previous movies, Ivan Drago is characterized as a soft-spoken and somewhat shy man who is uninterested in narcissistic self-promotion. Rather, he is solely driven by his desire to be the best at all costs. Ultimately, the single-minded manner in which he pursues this goal deprives him of his humanity. This is made evident by his cold-blooded pulverization of Creed in an exhibition match as well as by his callous reaction towards news of his opponent's death. Drago generally allows his wife and trainers to talk on his behalf to the press. The character only speaks six times throughout the film, all terse, short statements.

He only speaks English four times in the film:

  • [To Apollo], "You will lose."
  • [during victory speech], "I cannot be defeated" "I defeat all man." (cut) "Soon... I defeat real Champion." (cut) "If he dies, he dies."
  • [To Rocky], "I must break you."
  • [To Rocky], "To the end."

And Russian twice (not including short phrases, e.g. "Привет" or "Давай"):

  • [To Rocky's trainer in Russian], "Неправда, а как кусок железа." "He's not human, but like a piece of iron."
  • [To his Informant and the Soviet Politburo], "Я одержу победу для себя! Для себя!", "I will gain the victory for myself! For myself!"

Role in Rocky IV

Drago's trainers, Sergei Igor Rimsky (George Rogan) and Manuel Vega (James "Cannoball" Green), along with his wife Ludmilla (Brigitte Nielsen), are convinced that he can defeat any boxer. Former champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), now 42 years old, comes out of retirement to challenge Drago to an exhibition match, promoted by Creed's former rival Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). Creed arrives to the ring wearing his signature Stars & Stripes boxing garb to "Living in America", sung by James Brown, upon a huge stage that is lowered into the ring. Before the match begins, Drago ominously mutters "You will lose".

During the fight, Creed is no match for the Russian fighter. In Creed's corner, Rocky contemplates whether to throw in the towel and surrender the fight (against Creed's earlier instructions), but instead he decides to hold onto the towel. Defenseless, Creed continues to absorb blows to the head until he is finally killed. Drago exhibits no remorse about what happens to Creed, simply stating in an interview after the fight that "if he dies, he dies".

To avenge Creed's death, Balboa travels to the Soviet Union to fight Drago on his home turf in Moscowmarker. The fight eventually becomes a long, drawn-out war between Balboa and Drago, and to everyone's shock, Rocky manages to severely damage Drago, and the crowd began to cheer for Rocky, whereas at the start of the fight, they were booing him. Drago's promoter — a Soviet official — insults him, claiming that by allowing an American to fight so admirably on Russian soil, Drago is disgracing the Soviet Union. The enraged Drago grabs him by the throat, throws him out of the ring and proclaims he only fights for himself. Balboa wins by KO in the 15th and final round in a dramatic ending.

The Ivan Drago versus Rocky Balboa match was never an officially sanctioned fight, but boxing record keepers still keep the result of the bout on both fighter's professional records because it complied with professional boxing rules, it was scheduled for 15 rounds, and was a relatively significant event. Per Rocky: The Ultimate Guide, Ivan Drago was permitted to resume his career as an amateur boxer after his loss to Rocky Balboa because of the special circumstance that he could not officially turn pro in the USSR. Ivan Drago never lost an amateur fight. Ivan Drago turned professional after the fall of the Soviet Union and accumulated an impressive 31-1 (31 KO) record while also winning a portion of the Heavyweight title. He never unified the title or fought the very top contenders (as a pro) because of promotional politics. His only defeat as a pro or an amateur fighter was at the hands of Rocky Balboa.


  1. Michael J. Strada and Harold R. Troper. Friend or foe?: Russians in American film and foreign policy, 1933-1991 (Scarecrow Press, 1997) ISBN 0810832453
  2. William J. Palmer The films of the eighties: a social history (Southern Illinois University Press, 1993) ISBN 9780809318377
  3. Edward W. L. Smith Not just pumping iron: on the psychology of lifting weights (C.C. Thomas, 1989) ISBN 978-0398055448

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