I think the first Rocky is the best. It's a lot grittier, and although its dramatic it has more of a realistic vibe to it. The underdog who rises up from nowhere and goes bell to bell with the champ and perseveres out of pure heart and guts is, I think, a much more powerful plot than the others where Rocky seems to have almost superhuman powers . . . more like a professional wrestler. I think the original Rocky is one of the greatest movies of all time.
However, being a teenager in the '80s, Rocky IV was definitely a source of inspiration when it came to training for sports and lifting weights. Who among us didn't climb to the top of the nearest mountain and shout "Drago!" at the top of our lungs?
Okay, maybe that was just me!
Rocky IV also had a strong message about peace and understanding between the US and the Soviets. I think its hard for younger people who weren't around back then to realize how much tension there was during the Cold War.