40 years ago today, we fell in love with an underdog. "Rocky" debuted in theaters.

FOX's Eben Brown reports:

It was 1976 and perhaps the nation was ready to see a man fight his way to win, not money nor a title, but just some self respect:

(Rocky) "I'm gonna know for the first time in my life, see, that I'm not just another bum from the neighborhood."

And so Rocky Balboa entered our hearts. We cheered for the South Philly street brawler in his shot at the world heavyweight boxing title in what was supposed to be a show match with champ Appolo Creed, played by Carl Weathers.

The prize fight became a proving ground for both men.

(Rocky) "I'm gonna stop the fight. / You ain't stopping nothing man. You ain't stopping nothing. / You stop this fight I'll kill you."

Rocky's loss by decision in the movie was offset by his winning the respect of Creed and the crowd. And the heart of the shy girl:

(Rocky) "Adrian!"

Eben Brown, FOX News.

Follow Eben Brown on Twitter: @FOXEbenBrown