Rocky director John G. Avildsen has passed away, aged 81. 

Avildsen's directing career saw a real boost in 1973 when his feature Save the Tiger saw Jack Lemmon win an Oscar for Best Actor. It was from there that he was able to move on to work with writer/star Sylvester Stallone on Rocky which of course would go on to be one of the best loved films of all time. 

As well as winning the Oscar for Best Film (beating out the likes of Taxi Driver and Network), Avildsen was also awarded the Best Director Oscar in 1976. 

He would go on to bring another classic underdog story to life with the Karate Kid, directing all three installments starring Ralph Macchio. He returned to the Rocky franchise in 1990 with Rocky V. 

"I owe just about everything to John Avildsen," Stallone said in a statement. "His directing, his passion, his toughness and his heart – a great heart – is what made Rocky the film it became. He changed my life and I will be forever indebted to him. Nobody could have done it better than my friend John Avildsen. I will miss him."