|Real name||Rocco Francis Marchegiano|
|Nickname(s)||The Brockton Blockbuster
The Rock from Brockton
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Reach||67 in (170 cm)|
September 1, 1923|
Brockton, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||August 31, 1969
Near Newton, Iowa, U.S.
|Wins by KO||43|
Rocky Marciano (born Rocco Francis Marchegiano; September 1, 1923 – August 31, 1969) was an American professional boxer who held the world heavyweight title from September 23, 1952 to April 27, 1956. Marciano went undefeated in his career and defended his title six times, against Jersey Joe Walcott, Roland La Starza, Ezzard Charles (twice), Don Cockell, and Archie Moore. Marciano had a short, blazing career usually accustomed to pressure fighters.
Known for his relentless style, incredible stamina, and an iron chin, Marciano has been ranked by many boxing historians as one of the best heavyweight boxers of all time. He was also known for his ferocious punching power for a man of just 190 pounds; his knockout percentage of 87.75 is one of the highest in heavyweight history.
Marciano was born and raised on the south side of Brockton, Massachusetts, to Pierino Marchegiano and Pasqualina Picciuto. Both of his parents were immigrants from Italy. His father was from Ripa Teatina, Abruzzo, while his mother was from San Bartolomeo in Galdo, Campania. Rocky had two brothers, Peter and Louis and three sisters, Alice, Concetta, and Elizabeth. When he was about eighteen months old, Marciano contracted pneumonia, from which he almost died.
In his youth, he played baseball with his brother Sonny and David Rooslet (a neighborhood friend of Marciano's), worked out on homemade weightlifting equipment (later in his life, Marciano was also a client of Charles Atlas) and used a stuffed mailbag that hung from a tree in his back yard as a heavy bag. He attended Brockton High School, where he played both baseball and football. However, he was cut from the school baseball team because he had joined a church league, violating a school rule forbidding players from joining other teams. He dropped out of school after finishing tenth grade.
Marciano then worked as a chute man on delivery trucks for the Brockton Ice and Coal Company. He also worked as a ditch digger, railroad layer, and as a shoemaker. Rocky was also a resident of Hanson, Massachusetts; the house he lived in still stands on Main Street.
In March 1943, Marciano was drafted into the United States Army for a term of two years. Stationed in Swansea, 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.
Marciano's amateur record was 8–4. 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 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.
In late March, 1947, Marciano and several friends traveled to Fayetteville, North Carolina, to try out for the Fayetteville Cubs, a farm team for the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Marciano lasted three weeks before being cut. After failing to find a spot on another team, he returned to Brockton and began boxing training with longtime friend Allie Colombo. Al Weill and Chick Wergeles served as his managers and Charley Goldman as his trainer and teacher.
Although he had one professional fight (against Lee Epperson), on his record, Marciano began fighting permanently as a professional boxer on July 12, 1948. That night, he notched a win over Harry Bilizarian (3–6–0). He won his first sixteen bouts by knockout, all before the fifth round, and nine before the first round was over. Don Mogard (17–9–1) became the first boxer to last the distance (full 10 rounds scheduled) with "The Rock," but Marciano won by unanimous decision.
Early in his career, he changed the spelling of his last name Marchegiano (Italian pronunciation: [markeˈdʒːano]). The ring announcer in Providence, Rhode Island, could not pronounce Marchegiano, so Marciano's handler, Al Weill, suggested they create a pseudonym. The first suggestion was Rocky Mack, which Marciano rejected. He decided to go with the more Italian-sounding "Marciano" (//, Italian pronunciation: [marˈtʃaːno]).
Marciano won three more fights by knockout and then he met Ted Lowry (58–48–9). Marciano kept his winning streak alive by beating Lowry by unanimous decision. Four more knockout wins followed, including a five-rounder on December 19, 1949, with Phil Muscato (56–20–0), an experienced heavyweight from Buffalo, New York, and the first "name fighter" Marciano would face. Three weeks after that fight, Marciano beat Carmine Vingo (16–1–0) by a fifth round knockout in New York that almost killed Vingo.
Marciano vs. La Starza
On March 24, 1950, Marciano fought Roland La Starza, winning by split decision. La Starza may have come closer than any other boxer to defeating Marciano as a professional. The scoring for the bout was 5–4, 4–5, 5–5 and Marciano won on a supplemental point system used by New York and Massachusetts at that time. The scoring system did not award an extra point for a knockdown and Marciano scored a knockdown in the fight. Referee Watson decided the bout, scoring it 9–6 for Marciano. Both boxers were undefeated at the time of the fight, with La Starza's record at 37–0.
Marciano won three more knockouts in a row before a rematch with Lowry (61–56–10), which Marciano again won by unanimous decision. After that, he won four more by knockout, and, after a decision over Red Applegate (11–14–2) in late April 1951, he was showcased on national television for the first time, when he knocked out Rex Layne (34–1–2) in six rounds on July 12, 1951.
On October 27, 1951, the 28-year-old Marciano took on the 37-year-old Joe Louis. Coming into the bout, Marciano was a 13-to-10 underdog. Marciano upset Louis in what was the latter's last career bout.
After four more wins, including victories over 35-year-old Lee Savold (96–37–3) and Harry Matthews (81–3–5), Marciano received an opportunity to win the title.
Marciano, 29, faced the World Heavyweight Champion, 38-year-old Jersey Joe Walcott, in Philadelphia on September 23, 1952. Walcott dropped Marciano in the first round and steadily built a points lead; but in the thirteenth, Walcott used his trademark feint to set up his right hand, but Marciano's "Suzie Q" landed first. Marciano landed a glancing right hook as Walcott slumped to his knees with his arm draped over the ropes. He lay motionless long after he had been counted out and Marciano became the new World Heavyweight Champion. At the time of the stoppage, Walcott was leading on all scorecards, 8–4, 7–5 and 7–4.
His first defense came a year later, a rematch against Walcott, 39, who this time was knocked out in the first round.
Next, it was Roland La Starza's turn to challenge Marciano. After building a small lead on the judges' scorecards all the way to the middle rounds, Marciano won the rematch by a technical knockout in the eleventh round.
Then came two consecutive bouts against former World Heavyweight Champion and light heavyweight legend Ezzard Charles, 33, who became the only man to ever last fifteen rounds against Marciano. Marciano won the first fight on points and the second by an eighth-round knockout. Then, Marciano met British and European Champion Don Cockell. Marciano knocked him out in the ninth round.
Marciano's last title bout was against 38-year-old Archie Moore, on September 21, 1955. The bout was originally scheduled for September 20, but because of hurricane warnings, it had to be delayed a day. Marciano was knocked down for a four count in the second round, but recovered and retained his title with a knockout in round nine.
Marciano announced his retirement on April 27, 1956, aged 32. He finished his career at 49-0.
Marciano considered a comeback in 1959 when Ingemar Johansson won the Heavyweight Championship from Floyd Patterson on June 26, 1959. After only a month of training in nearly four years, Marciano decided against it and never seriously considered a comeback again.
After his retirement, Marciano entered the world of television, first appearing in the Combat! episode "Masquerade" and then hosting a weekly boxing show on TV in 1961. For a brief period, he worked as a troubleshooting referee in wrestling (Marciano was a good wrestler in high school). He continued as a referee and boxing commentator in boxing matches for many years. He was also active in business as a partner and vice president of Papa Luigi Spaghetti Dens, a San Francisco-based franchise company formed by Joe Kearns and James Braly. He built a custom home at 641 NW 24 street in Wilton Manors, Florida, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. The house still stands today.
In late July 1969, shortly before his death, Marciano participated in the filming of the fantasy The Superfight: Marciano vs. Ali. The two boxers were filmed sparring, then the film was edited to match a computer simulation of a hypothetical fight between them, each in their prime. It aired on January 20, 1970, with one version having Marciano winning and the second version having Ali winning. When asked if he could have defeated Ali in a real fight, Marciano replied: "I'd be conceited if I said I could, but I'd be lying if I said I couldn't." When asked about his opinion of the result, Ali jokingly dismissed the results as racist, saying "That computer must've been made in Mississippi."
On August 31, 1969, on the eve of his 46th birthday, Marciano was a passenger in a small private plane, a Cessna 172 headed to Des Moines, Iowa. It was at night and bad weather had set in. The pilot, Glenn Belz, had only 231 total hours of flying time, only 35 of them at night, and was not certified to fly in instrument meteorological conditions. Belz tried to set the plane down at a small airfield outside Newton, Iowa, but hit a tree two miles short of the runway. Flying with Marciano, in the back seat, was Frankie Farrell, 28, the oldest son of Lew Farrell, a former boxer (with alleged mob ties) who had known Marciano since childhood. Marciano, Belz and Farrell were killed on impact. The National Transportation Safety Board report said, "The pilot attempted an operation exceeding his experience and ability level, continued visual flight rules under adverse weather conditions and experienced spatial disorientation in the last moments of the flight." Marciano was on his way to give a speech to support his friend's son and there was a surprise birthday celebration waiting for him. He had hoped to return in the early morning for his 46th birthday celebration with his wife. He was coming from a dinner in Chicago at STP CEO Andy Granatelli's home.
He is interred in a crypt at Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His wife, who died five years after him at the age of 46, is entombed next to him. His father died in March 1972 and his mother in early January 1986.
Marciano is commonly remembered as a swarmer due to his use of constant pressure in the ring, but he has also been called a slugger and a brawler; he was essentially all three. A late starter in the sport with little training and a short amateur career, he lacked the skills and finesse of most heavyweight champions, but he made up for it in brute force and raw power. He was notorious early in his career for his punching power, holding eleven first-round knockouts to his name. As the opposition got better, Marciano relied on his incredible stamina, relentlessness, and ability to fight rough and swarm on the inside to get him through fights just as much as the power. He would sometimes go entire fights being pummeled by opponents such as Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, and Archie Moore but would come on strong as his opponent faded. He was also noted for hitting his opposition on their arms while they were blocking. Although this didn't score points, over the rounds it made their arms numb and essentially useless. Rocky faced criticism over his career for poor foot movement and for taking too many shots: he utilized weaving but would often be caught coming in. This, however, did not matter because he was able to take the shots. He is now known for having one of the best chins in boxing history, being knocked down just twice in his entire career, both times more to do with poor balancing rather than being dazed.
Rocky Marciano was the inspiration for the name, iconography, and fighting style of the title character Rocky Balboa from Sylvester Stallone's American classic Rocky movie series. The character Rocky dreams of becoming like his idol Rocky Marciano and later in the series even gifts his son a valuable possession (a boxing glove necklace made from a cuff link) given to him by his trainer Mickey, who had received it from Marciano.
In 1971, Nat Fleischer, perhaps boxing's most famous historian and also editor and founder of Ring magazine, named Marciano as the all-time 10th greatest Heavyweight Champion. Nat Fleischer wrote that Marciano was "crude, wild swinging, awkward, and missed heavily. In his bout with Light Heavyweight Champion Archie Moore, for example, he missed almost two-thirds of the fifty odd punches he tossed when he had Archie against the ropes, a perfect target for the kill."
John Durant, author of The Heavyweight Champions, wrote in 1971 (pg. 123) "Critics do not rate Rocky with the great ones, like Jeffries, Johnson, Dempsey, Tunney, and Louis. He never faced top-fighters like they did. It was not Rocky's fault, of course, that there was not much talent when he was fighting. He fought them all and that is what a champion is supposed to do."
In December 1962, a Ring magazine poll of 40 boxing experts had Jack Dempsey rated the #1 Heavyweight of all time, with Joe Louis 2nd, Jack Johnson 3rd and Marciano 7th. Two boxing historians, Herb Goldman and Charley Rose, and John McCallum's Survey of Old Timers (survey of a group of historians and writers), rated Marciano at #7, #8 and #9 of greatest heavyweights of all time respectively.
In 1998, Ring named Marciano as the 6th greatest Heavyweight Champion ever. In 2002, Ring numbered Marciano at #12 on the list of the 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years. In 2003, Ring rated Marciano #14 on the list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. In 2005, Marciano was named the fifth greatest heavyweight of all time by the International Boxing Research Organization. A 1977 ranking by Ring listed Marciano as the greatest Italian American fighter. In 2007, on ESPN.com's list of the 50 Greatest Boxers of All Time, Marciano was ranked #14.
Marciano holds the record with heavyweight Brian Nielsen for the longest undefeated streak by a heavyweight. He also has the record for being the only World Heavyweight Champion to go undefeated throughout his career. Willie Pep, a featherweight, had a perfect 62–0 record before he was defeated once, followed by a 72–0–1 undefeated streak. Packy McFarland was a lightweight (fighting between 1904–1915) who lost his first fight and then won his next 98, though he never won the lightweight title. Heavyweight Champion Gene Tunney never suffered a defeat at heavyweight and retired as champion, although he did lose one fight at light heavyweight.
Throughout history, only a few boxers have retired as undefeated world champions. As of 2015 apart from Marciano only Michael Loewe, Pichit Sitbangprachan, Harry Simon, Sven Ottke, Joe Calzaghe, Edwin Valero and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. retired with a perfect record containing neither defeats nor draws. Only Mayweather, Jr. has managed to match Marciano's 49-0 record.
Marciano has the highest knockout percentage of any heavyweight champion in history with 87.76%. Marciano was knocked down to the canvas only twice in his professional career. The first occurred in his first championship against Jersey Joe Walcott, 38, and the second occurred against Archie Moore, 38.
On the bootleg tapes of The Beatles in session in 1965 recording "Think For Yourself", John Lennon can be heard reflecting and joking about a meeting he had with Marciano, in which Marciano talked about Joe Louis.
Marciano's punch was tested and it was featured in the December 1963 issue of Boxing Illustrated: "Marciano's knockout blow packs more explosive energy than an armour-piercing bullet and represents as much energy as would be required to spot lift 1000 pounds one foot off the ground."
Marciano was named fighter of the year by Ring three times. His three championship fights between 1952–54 were named fights of the year by that magazine. Marciano won the Sugar Ray Robinson Award in 1952. In 2006, an ESPN poll voted Marciano's 1952 championship bout against Walcott as the greatest knockout ever. Marciano also received the Hickok Belt for top professional athlete of the year in 1952. In 1955, he was voted the second most important American athlete of the year.
Marciano is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame.
A bronze statue of Marciano was planned for a 2009 completion date in his hometown of Brockton, Massachusetts, to be a gift to the city by the World Boxing Council. The artist Mario Rendon, head of the Instituto Universitario de las Bellas Artes in Colima, Mexico, was selected to sculpt the statue. After years of delays in the planning stages, the groundbreaking for the statue was held on April 1, 2012, on the grounds of Brockton High School. The statue was officially unveiled on September 23, 2012, which was the 60th anniversary of Marciano winning the World Heavyweight title. A bronze statue of Marciano was also erected in Ripa Teatina, Italy, to celebrate the birthplace of Marciano's father.
Professional boxing record
- "Charles Atlas: Muscle Man" by Jonathan Black, Smithsonian magazine, August 2009.
- Skehan, p. 32
- Skehan, p. 39
- Skehan, p. 73
- Skehan, p. 69
- Skehan, p. 70
- Skehan, p. 66
- Ed Fitzgerald (January 1953). Rocky Marciano – The Blockbuster from Brockton at the Wayback Machine (archived May 2, 2009). thesportgallery.com
- Rocky Marchiano KO's Joe Louis. Eugene Register-Guard – October 26, 1951
- Will Hammock (2010-06-05). "The Champ: County to honor legendary boxer Charles today." Gwinnett Daily Post
- Mullan (1996). Boxing: The Definitive Illustrated Guide to World Boxing. London, England: Carlton Books. p. 81. ISBN 0-7858-0641-5.
- Skehan, p. 257
- Fights and Flights... The Crash of Rocky Marciano's Cessna. Check-six.com (1969-08-31). Retrieved on 2012-08-09.
- Thirty Fifth Anniversary Of The Death Of Rocky Marciano. Eastsideboxing.com. Retrieved on 2012-08-09.
- Rocky Marciano raised money for the fight against Muscular Dystrophy. [Archive] – Boxing Forum. Boxingscene.com. Retrieved on 2012-08-09.
- Nat Fleischer (September 1971). "CLAY AN ALL-TIME TOP 10? DEFINITELY NO!". The Ring Online. Archived from the original on 2007-01-13. Retrieved 2007-01-18.
- Heavyweight lists from 3 historical heavyweights. in Boxing History Forum. Boxinguniverse.yuku.com. Retrieved on 2012-08-09.
- "All Time Rankings". International Boxing Research Organization. March 2005. Archived from the original on November 5, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-18.
- A picture of Marciano's punch test at Kolumbus.fi. Retrieved on 2012-08-09.
- A further picture of Marciano's punch test at Kolumbus.fi. Retrieved on 2012-08-09.
- Papadopoulos, Maria. (2008-07-10) Where to put Rocky? – Brockton, MA – The Enterprise. Enterprisenews.com. Retrieved on 2012-08-09.
- Papadopoulos, Maria. (2010-11-18) Brockton's Rocky Marciano Statue Committee wants meeting with World Boxing Council – Taunton, MA – The Taunton Daily Gazette. Tauntongazette.com. Retrieved on 2012-08-09.
- Brockton breaks ground for Rocky Marciano statue – Brockton, MA – The Enterprise. Enterprisenews.com (2012-04-01). Retrieved on 2012-08-09.
- "Rocky Marciano Statue".
- Rocky Marciano's Professional Boxing Record. Boxrec.com. Retrieved on 2012-08-09.
- Skehan, Everett M. (1977). Rocky Marciano: Biography of a First Son. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-25356-X.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Rocky Marciano|
- Professional boxing record for Rocky Marciano from BoxRec
- Amateur Boxing Record for Rocky Marciano[dead link] from BoxArec
- Check-Six.com – The Crash of Rocky Marciano's Cessna plane
- Rocky Marciano at the Internet Movie Database
- ESPN Greatest Ever KO Poll
- Brockton pays tribute to Allie Colombo, Marciano's friend and trainer
- Brockton Rocky Statue
|Awards and achievements|
Jersey Joe Walcott
|World Heavyweight Champion
September 23, 1952 – April 27, 1956
Sugar Ray Robinson
|Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year
|Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year
1954 and 1955
Jersey Joe Walcott
|Edward J. Neil Trophy
(BWAA Fighter of the Year)
|Youngest Dying Heavyweight Champion
August 31, 1969 – December 30, 1970