Name: Rocky Marciano
Alias: The Brockton Blockbuster
Birth Name: Rocco Francis Marchegiano
Birthplace: Brockton, Massachusetts, USA
Died: 1969-08-31 (Age:45)
Nationality: US American
Hometown: Brockton, Massachusetts, USA
Boxing Record: click
Height: 5′ 10″
Manager: Al Weill
Trainers: Charley Goldman & Al Columbo
Officiating Record: Referee
On Sept. 1, 1923 Mr. and Mrs. Pierino Marchegiano of Brockton, Massachusetts became the proud parents of an extraordinarily robust baby boy. The twelve pound child was christened Rocco Marchegiano, but the world would one day know him as the legendary boxer Rocky Marciano.
When "bambino Rocco" was 18 months of age, he contracted pneumonia. Even though the infection nearly killed him - his doctor claimed that his remarkably strong constitution enabled him to survive without impairment.
As a child, Rocky relished his mother's Italian cooking so much he often bordered on being a bit stocky, which was underscored by his relatively short but muscular arms and legs. However, even at this tender age, his overall bearing suggested he possessed unusual physical strength....
During his early teenage years, Rocky took great advantage of living across the street from Brockton's James Edgar Playground, where he especially enjoyed playing baseball. It was during this period that he began the habit of exercising to his limit. Spending countless hours hitting and chasing after baseballs, he would ultimately go home and do chin-ups and lift homemade weights until he was totally fatigued.
After supper, he and his pals spent many happy hours pummeling a stuffed mail sack that hung from an oak tree in the Marchegiano's back yard. In hot weather, they usually finished off such workouts "by racing over to Saxton's Spring to get a drink of its sparkling cold water....."
( Gerald Beals, An Abridged Biography Of The Life Of Rocky Marciano. . . June, 1999 at rockymarciano.com)
Rocky Marciano..... born Rocco Francis Marchegiano, was an Italian-American boxer and the heavyweight champion of the world from September 23, 1952, to April 27, 1956, when he retired as the only heavyweight champion in boxing history to retire having won every fight in his professional career.
In March 1943, Marciano was drafted into the army for a term of two years. Stationed in Wales, he helped ferry supplies across the English Channel to Normandy. After the war ended, he completed his service in March 1946 at Fort Lewis, Washington.
While awaiting discharge, Marciano, representing the army, won the 1946 amateur armed forces boxing tournament. His amateur career was interrupted on March 17, 1947, when Marciano stepped into the ring as a professional competitor. That night, he knocked out Lee Epperson in three rounds. In an unusual move, however, Marciano returned to the amateur ranks and fought in the Golden Gloves All-East Championship Tournament in March 1948. He was beaten by Coley Wallace. He continued to fight as an amateur throughout the spring and competed in the AAU Olympic tryouts in the Boston Garden. There, he knocked out George McInnis, but hurt his hands during the bout and was forced to withdraw from the tournament. That was his last amateur bout. His amateur years, with an 8-4 record, would be the last time Marciano experienced a loss.
Ever since he was a teenager in Brockton, Massachusetts, people have often referred to Rocky Marciano as "that tough Italian kid" with incredible punching power. To many, Rocky Marciano's fabled story was the inspiration for the ever-popular "Rocky" series made famous by Sylvester Stallone. His trademarks were a powerful right cross and an ability to endure punishment.
Rocky was one of the toughest, hardest working, and hardest hitting champions of all time. He was a complex and charming individual who happened to have an amazing ability to knock opponent out of the ring.....
Throughout his career, the gritty and seemingly indestructible Marciano never forgot and always revered his Italian heritage. It was said that he was able to draw upon his modest upbringing in a working class Italian neighborhood in Brockton, Massachusetts, to help him overcome adversity in the ring.
(Art by Coupe)
Signed in Blue Ink Rocky Marciano
Al Weill, Paul Grossinger, Rocky Marciano
Rocky Marciano VS Joe Louis, 1951
After winning 37 fights by knockouts - including a momentous victory over Joe Louis -he finally got the answer to his dreams. On Sept. 23, 1952, Rocky fought Jersey Joe Walcott for the world heavyweight championship. Although he was knocked down in the first round - and was behind in the scoring for the first 7 rounds - he finally won in the 13th by knocking out Walcott with a desperately powerful - and extremely accurate - right punch. It was a right cross that traveled only six inches, which he always referred to, thereafter, as his "Susie Q."
One of the less gifted champions of heavyweight history, Marciano won his crown in a fashion which became synonymous with his career - he battled for it. Although in the twilight of his career, Walcott still took a big lead against his challenger, registering a heavy knockdown in the second round. For much of what followed, it was Walcott who dominated, forcing Marciano to follow him around the ring and accept numerous jabs for his trouble. Yet Marciano, nicknamed the "Brockton Blockbuster" was impossible to discourage. By the 13th, he was starting to force the champion into uncomfortable situations, before making the decisive move. Walcott moved straight back to the ropes to avoid a Marciano charge and, with the two fighters barely 12 inches apart, the challenger landed a right hand. It was the kind of punch which is done justice by slow motion replay - it travelled less than a foot, landed flush on Walcott's chin and rendered him unconscious from the moment of impact.
Feb. 25, 1955 (New York)
Don Cockell vs. Rocky Marciano
May 16, 1955
Marciano's last title bout was against Archie Moore on September 21st, 1955. The bout was originally scheduled for Tuesday, September 20th, but because of hurricane warnings it had to be moved to the 21st. Marciano was knocked down for two seconds, but he got up and knocked out Moore in the 9th round. Moore was also knocked down in the 6th and 8th round but was saved by the bell. There was a game before the boxing match and all the fights started late. When Marciano was proclaimed winner, it was already morning of September 22nd.
Marciano announced his retirement from boxing on April 27th, 1956. He considered a comeback in 1959 when Ingemar Johansson won the heavyweight championship from then-champ Floyd Patterson in June of 1959. After almost a month of training, however, Marciano decided against it and never seriously considered a comeback again.
After his retirement, Marciano moved to Florida, invested in restaurants, buying and selling boats, and dealing in real estate and construction. And though many of his investments, such as buying Florida wetlands, were disastrous, he remained cheerful and genial - the money he gave to his friends was often not repaid, and Marciano would never say a word about it.
He hosted a weekly boxing show on TV for a year and, for a brief period, he worked as a troubleshooting referee for wrestlers. He continued as a referee and boxing commentator in boxing matches for many years.
Rocky defended his title six times, winning five fights by knockouts. As a professional, he won an unprecedented 49 straight fights of which 43 - almost 90 % - were by knockouts.
He was once asked if it was the hated memories of breathing coal dust and the putrid smell of shoe factory leather that fired him up with unrelenting determination to win and succeed as a boxer. "Not really," he replied, "Even after I was knocked down, or badly cut, and was losing a fight, "the one thing I thought about most was the hardship my father and mother faced throughout their lives...I well knew that, if I didn't overcome the challenge at hand, both I and they would certainly never get another chance to escape poverty and oblivion...."
Rocky also acknowledged that, in his earliest fights, he thought a lot about impressing his girl friend (and later wife) Barbara Cousins and her friends, pointing out that, "At that time, not many people were very positive about my prospects as a serious boyfriend...."
Rocky was often asked what was his toughest fight. Surprisingly, he always said it was his encounter with Joe Louis: 'Because the aging 'Brown Bomber' was my childhood hero, I had to overcome a 'ton' of reservation before I finally knocked him out of the ring. When that moment finally came, it seemed like everyone in the crowd had turned against me... Some of Louis's fierce admirers were actually crying; others were swearing at me.... As I went to his corner to console him, I saw that that the only people who were still wildly cheering for me - as always - were my faithful supporters from Brockton...."
(Gerald Beals, An Abridged Biography Of The Life Of Rocky Marciano. . . June, 1999 at rockymarciano.com)
On August 31st, 1969, at 9:00 PM, a light plane tried to land in bad weather at a small airport outside Newton, Iowa. The pilot, Glenn Belz, had only 231 total hours of flying time, with only 35 hours at night. A weather briefing had warned of stormy skies over Iowa, with a low ceiling. Belz was not instrument rated. Inexperienced, probably confused and frightened by the bad visibility, he tried to drop below the low hanging clouds to find the runway. He came out of the clouds two miles short of the runway and much too close to the ground. A witness said it appeared the pilot tried to gain altitude at the last moment but it was too late. Belz was less than one hundred feet off the ground when his plane struck a lone oak tree in the center of a cornfield, hit the ground, and slid for 235 feet before coming to a stop as a tangled wreck near a drainage ditch.
The passenger in the rear seat was 22 year old Frankie Farrell, son of Italian mobster Louis Fratto. In the front passenger seat was the former heavyweight champion of the world, Rocky Marciano, who would have been 46 years old the next day. All three were killed instantly.....
(East Side Boxing.com)
Frankie "One-Ear" Fratto and Rocky Marciano
Frankie "One-Ear" Fratto and Rocky Marciano
Frankie (Fratto) Farrell with Rocky Marciano
hours before fatal plane crash
Sam Ancona, Frankie Fratto Farrell
Rocky Marciano, Chuckie Morgan
Forty-eight years since he retired undefeated, Rocky Marciano remains the only champion to finish his career with a perfect record in over 100 years of gloved boxing. For those who don’t know much of Marciano other than the opinions of debaters boxing forums, first know that he didn’t "just" retire undefeated. There was more substance to him as a fighter than his perfect record. For example, Marciano was named Ring magazine Fighter of the Year three times; in 1952, 1954, and 1955. Rocky also fought the Fight of the Year three times; in 1952 VS Walcott, in 1953 VS Roland LaStarza, and in 1954 VS Ezzard Charles. And he was honored with Round of the Year twice; in 1951 when he KO’d Louis in the 8th and in 1952 when he put away Walcott in the 13th round.
(East Side Boxing.com)
From Signature House
Such selections were not based on weight class but on performance, during a boxing era that was rich in talent; Sugar Ray Robinson was active, as were Sandy Saddler, Willie Pep, Archie Moore, Kid Gavilan, Carmen Basilio, Joey Maxim, Randy Turpin, and other great fighters. In such an era, and among such competition, Rocky had to win more impressively than other men also bound for the Hall of Fame. And it wasn’t latter day boxing fans he had to impress; it was sports writers whose perspective was ringside.
He excelled in an era of high achievers.
(East Side Boxing.com)
He was well respected by those who knew him and the men he fought. Each had their own thoughts and words at the funeral.
"He was a man of courage inside the ring. Outside, he was kind and gentle." Jersey Joe Walcott
"Something's gone out of my life. I'm not alone, something's gone out of everyone's life." Joe Louis
"He was a great fighter and a great man." Joe Frazier
"There was no pretense about Rocky. He was the genuine thing." Joey Maxim
"This man was one of the greatest champions ever. He refused to accept defeat. And nobody beat him." Sonny Liston.
Muhammad Ali told how he sped to Fort Lauderdale, breaking speed limits and ignoring red lights to get to the funeral on time.
"He was gentle and soft-spoken and you’d never picture him to be a boxer," said Marciano’s sister, Betty Colombo. “He was so sensitive, very family-oriented. He cared about his brothers and sisters and parents very much. He used to come home and we’d envy him. When he’d come to Brockton, my mother would call all the kids up and say, ‘Come over and see the brother.’ He’d say that you don’t know how lucky you guys are. You’re married, you’ve got a family, you’re home all time. He envied us because he couldn’t do that anymore. He’d have to leave and go on the road. But he never changed inside."
"The most popular athlete in the world in those days was the heavyweight champion of the world, and that’s what Rocky was" said Armond Colombo. “It’s nothing like today. Today, do you know who the heavyweight champion of the world is? When you were heavyweight champion of the world, everyone in the world knew Rocky Marciano."
Brockton-based Goody Petronelli, who along with his brother, Pat, guided Marvelous Marvin Hagler to the top of the world middleweight division, has Marciano pictures hanging in his downtown gym. “There’s nothing greater than Rocky Marciano," said Petronelli. “I mention his name to fighters quite frequently in the gym. He’s part of Brockton forever."
When Colombo was coaching Brockton High’s successful football program, he always made it a point to let his players know about the city’s heavyweight champ. “My comment about Rocky was if I had 11 Rocky Marcianos on my team, I would never lose a game," he said. “Any coach would say the same thing because of what he was and his method of training, his determination, his attitude. I once asked him, 'Are you ever afraid of anybody you go in the ring against? He said,'I respect them, but I have never been afraid of anybody I’ve fought.’ That’s what I preached throughout my coaching life. The first thing you have to do is respect your opponent, your teammates and all of this comes back to you and helps you be a better person. That was Rocky."
The man from Dover Street with the vicious punching power who floored 43 opponents was one of a kind, inside and outside of the ring.
“My father told me this story about Rocky," said Peter Marciano Jr., the champion’s nephew. “One day, my father and my uncle Sonny and Rocky were in New York. Rocky was retired. They were at a table. This big guy walks through the door, 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, great big hulk of a guy. The guy walks over to the table and said, 'You Rocky Marciano?' My uncle said, 'Yeah, yeah that’s me.' The guy said, 'You don’t look so tough.' My uncle Rocky looked him right in the eye and said, 'It’s funny you say that because as soon as I saw you walk in the door, I said to my two brothers here if there’s anybody who could give me a run for my money, I bet it’s that guy right there and I wouldn’t want to mess with him.' The guy looked at him and his shoulders swelled up and he walked away. My father said to Rocky, 'What’s the matter? Let’s go give this guy a beating.' My uncle Rocky said, 'You know, I just made that guy. He’ll tell his grandkids that story. I’ve got nothing to prove to anybody. I just made that guy so happy.' That was the type of guy Rocky was. They just don’t make guys like Rocky anymore."
ROCKY MARCIANO CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD
Lee Epperson KO 3
Harry Balzerian KO 1
John Edwards KO 1
Bob Quinn KO 3
Eddie Ross KO 1
Jimmy Weeks KO 1
Jerry Jackson KO 1
Bill Hardman KO 1
Gill Cardione KO 1
Bob Jefferson KO 1
Patrick Connolly KO 1
Gil Ferron KO 2
Johnny Oretzie KO 5
Artie Donato KO 1
James Walls KO 3
Jimmy Evans KO 3
Don Mogard W 10
Harry Haft KO 3
Pete Louthis KO 3
Tommy Gorgio KO 4
Ted Lowry Dec 10
Hoe Domonic KO 2
Pat Richards KO 2
Phil Muscato KO 5
Carmine Vingo KO 6
Roland LaStrarza W 10
Eldridge Eatman KO 3
Gino Buovino KO 10
Johnny Shkor KO 10
Ted Lowry W 10
Keene Simmons KO 1
Harold Mitchell KO 2
Art Henry KO 9
Red Applegate W 10
Rex Lane KO 6
Freddie Beshore KO 4
Joe Louis KO 8
Lee Savold KO 6
Gino Buovino KO 2
Bernie Reynolds KO 3
Harry Matthews KO 2
Joe Walcott KO 13
Joe Walcott KO 1
Roland LaStrarza KO 11
Ezzard Charles W 15
Ezzard Charles KO 8
Don Cockell KO 9
Rocky Marciano career timeline:
Born Rocco Francis Marchegiano, 9/1/23 in Brockton, Mass.
Fought first pro bout as Rocky Marsh, 3/17/47, in Holyoke, Mass.
Returned to amateur ranks after 3-round KO of Lee Epperson.
Billed as Rocco (Socko) Marchegiano, lost to Coley Wallace in preliminary round of Tournament of Champions Golden Gloves, 3/1/48.
Re-started professional career, 7/12/48, in Providence, R.I.
Won first 16 pro bouts by knockout.
Ended Joe Louis' career with eighth-round knockout, 10/26/51.
Won heavyweight title with thirteenth-round KO of Jersey Joe Walcott in Philadelphia, 9/23/52.
Ended Walcott's career with first-round knockout in rematch in first defense of title, 5/15/53.
Made successful title defenses against: Roland LaStarza, KO 11, 9/24/53; Ezzard Charles, W 15, 6/17/54, and KO 8, 9/17/54; Don Cockell, KO 9, 5/16/55; and Archie Moore, KO 9, 9/21/55.
Retired as undefeated champion, 4/27/56.
Shortest reach of all heavyweight champions -- only 68 inches.
Fought an average of fewer than five rounds per bout.
Only six bouts were not won by knockout -- two of those opponents, LaStarza and Charles, were knocked out in rematches.
Fought only two bouts outside the Eastern seaboard.
Returned to train for filming of computer fight with Muhammad Ali in 1968.
Known as "The Brockton Blockbuster."
Killed in crash of private plane, 8/31/69, outside Des Moines, Iowa.
Elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, 1990.
Complete record: 49 bouts, 49 wins, 0 losses, 43 knockouts.
(From "Boxing's Greatest Fighters", copyright 2006, Lyons Press)