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Rocky Marciano

Rocco Marchegiano (September 1, 1924-August 31, 1969), better known as Rocky Marciano, was a boxer who holds the distinction of being the only Heavyweight champion of the world in history to retire undefeated.

Marciano had to fight practically since the start of his life. He contracted pneumonia when he was a 1 year old baby, and he almost didn't survive. But Marciano was a strong baby, and his body was able to overcome that infection.

Marciano was a chubby kid with strong arms as a pre-teen, but he benefitted from living right in front of a park: He used to go to the James Edgar Playground to play baseball every day, and he used to hit ball after ball and go to pick the balls up after hitting them. After that, he'd go home to lift some homemade weightlifting equipment. It was during this time of his life that Marciano grew responsibility for proper, everyday sports training.

Rocky at the time used a stuffed mail bag that hung from a tree on his house's backyard as a punching bag. He and his friends would use it, and if it was hot, they'd race for a drink of water at a local soda fountain after they were done hitting the bag.

Because it was widely known that Rocky had an interest in boxing, he would get involved in street fights as a teenager more than the average kid. But Rocky wanted to be a baseball player, not a boxer. So he also became famous for his potential as a possible major leagues star of the future. During this time also, Rocky developed an interest in aviation.

When Rocky was 15, he entered the Brockton High School and made their football team. Legend has it that center Rocky once intercepted a pass and ran 60 yards with the ball to score a touchdown.

He also made that school's baseball team as a catcher, but Rocky was told he was slow and moved to Right Field. But shortly after, Rocky joined a church league, violating a school rule that players could not join any other teams. Cut from his school's team, Rocky felt frustrated and decided to start cutting class and later on, stop going to Brockton High at all.

Rocky had been begged by a teacher to attend a vocational center in Brockton, and he realized he had little working skills, so he decided to get a job as a shoe salesman. Soon, Rocky found work as a chute man instead, on delivery trucks for the Brockton Ice and Coal Company. Rocky hated working there, the job was hard and filthy at best.

After World War II was over, shoe sales went up, ad Rocky's father was able to hook him up with a shoe salesman job. Rocky enjoyed the many features of that job, specially working with his father.

When Rocky was 20, he was called up by the US Army to serve in England. However, the war was drawing to an end, and Rocky was flown back t the States. After the Atomic bomb was dropped in Japan, Rocky waited to see if the Army still would need him or if he'd be discharged.

While he was waiting, Rocky decided to take in an amateur boxng competition, where he represented the Army and won. Upon being given a month's furlough from the Army, Rocky went back home and bragged about his newly found talent to his uncle and friends. It was his uncle who told him about a boxer who was looking for an opponent, and that maybe Rocky should try at being this guy's opponent for a night. The boxer was Henry Lester[?], a Golden Gloves champion. Rocky didn't seem to care that his opponent was an award winning amateur and took on Lester. Rocky was lucky it wasn't an official bout, because, according to people present at the bout, he was on his way to defeat when he hit Lester on his groin and was disqualified. Rocky was so embarrassed by this fight and the newspapers' accounts of it, that when he went back to the military facilities, he cut out all the beer, drinking, smoking and partying from his schedule and started concentrating on his training habits only.

His next big responsibility was the national AAU championships. Rocky won his first two bouts there by a knockout in the first round, but by the third bout, his knuckles were hurt, and he lost by decision for the championship. His hand later required surgery because of the injuries, and the doctor who performed the surgery, a Japanese man who was Rocky's personal friend, told him he would never make it as a Heavyweight.

Rocky by then was playing semi-pro baseball, and he was signed by the Chicago Cubs to a minor league contract. But, while playing in a minor league team,he heard his coach say that none of the players on his team would ever make it to the big leagues. Rocky took this personally and soon returned to Brockton, where he felt dejected by the whole baseball system and started training with his sights set on becoming a professional boxer. There, he met Allie Colombo[?], a man who put Rocky on a very strong training regime.

On March 17 of 1947, Rocky finally stepped into the ring as a professonal competitor for the first time. That night, he beat Lee Epperson[?] by a knockout in three rounds. He won all of his first 16 bouts by knockout, all of them except one before the fourth round, and nine before the first round was over. On May 23 of 1949, Don Mogard[?] became the first boxer to last the distance with The Rock, but Rocky won by decision.

He won three more by knockout, and then he met Ted Lowry[?], who, according to many scribes and witnesses, probably managed to take three or four of the ten rounds away from Rocky. Nevertheless, Rocky kept his winning streak alive by beating Lowry by decision. Four more knockout wins followed, and then, another hard fought ten round decision victory, over his future world title challenger Roland LaStarza[?]. He won three more knockouts in a row, and then there was a rematch with Lowry. Marciano again won, by a unanimous decision. After that, he won four more by knockout, and after a win in six over Red Applegate[?], he was showcased on national tv for the first time, when he knocked out Rex Layne[?] in six rounds on July 12, 1951. One more win, and he was again on national tv, this time against Joe Louis. In Louis' last career bout, Marciano won, by a knockout in the eight round. After that series of wins, Marciano was a ranked Heavyweight. After four more wins, including victories over Lee Savold[?] and Harry Matthews[?], Marciano faced wolrd Heavyweight champion Jersey Joe Walcott in Philadelphia on September 23, 1952. After being dropped in round one, Marciano got up and knocked Walcott out in the thirteenth round, becoming the world's Heavyweight champion. A rematch was fought one year later, and, in Marciano's first title defense, he retained the title with a first round knockout of Walcott. Next, it was LaStarza's turn to challenge Marciano, and after building a small lead on the judges' scorecards all the way to the middle rounds, LaStarza was knocked out in eleven by the champion. Then came former world Heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles[?], whom Marciano beat by a decision on their first bout. After having his nose broken in round five of the rematch, Marciano retained the title with an eight round knockout win. Then Marciano met British and European champion Don Cocknell[?], beaten in nine, and in his last bout, Marciano raised off the canvas in round two to retain his title by a knockout in nine against the equally legendary fomer Light-Heavyweight champion of the world, Archie Moore.

Marciano managed his money well off after his retirement, and he lived a comfortable life the rest of his days. He hosted a weekly boxing show on tv, and lived in a nice mansion. Rumors that one of his trainers, Al Weill[?], had connections to the mafia, surfaced later, and, according to the rumors, Rocky hated the fact Weill 'was connected'.

Rocky got a license to fly airplanes, and in 1969, while he was flying back home from a business meeting, his plane suffered engine trouble and crashed. He died instantly and was buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Rocky had a record of 49-0 with 43 knockout wins. While his record as the Heavyweight champion to go the longest undefeated and his position as the only world Heavyweight champion to go undefeated thru his whole career were challenged by Larry Holmes in 1985 when Holmes went 48-0 before losing to Michael Spinks, Marciano's records still stand. After Holmes lost to Spinks, he caused some controversy by making some unfortunate comments about Marciano, but he later apologized.

Marciano was the object of a biographical movie , and in the movie Rocky, the Rocky Balboa character told his trainer Mickey that Marciano was his favorite boxer. Marciano has been also the object of several paintings, and his face is on a USPS[?] stamp , commemorating his life.

Marciano, like rivals Louis, Walcott and Moore, is a member of the International Boxing Hall Of Fame.

Numerous books have been written about Marciano including the 1977 book by Everett M. Skehan[?] titled Rocky Marciano. Biography of A First Son[?] whose cover is shown on this page.

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