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Rocky Marciano

Titles: World heavyweight champion 1952-1955

Record: 49-0

Born: September 1, 1923 in Brockton, Massachusetts, USA 

Years active: 1948-1955

Nickname: The Brockton Blockbuster 
        
When you talk with most people they will say Rocky is either very overrated or 
very underrated. It is hard to argue with perfection as Rocky was 49-0 and retired 
undefeated! Others will say he fought weak competition and the good boxers he did 
beat were past their prime. You can throw all kind of statistics around but how 
do you measure heart, guts and determination? Can you measure the ability to take 
the other mans best shot brush it off and come back to knock out the other man 
because his will had been crushed. Marciano's style can best be described as crude, 
determined and most importantly effective. Perhaps former light heavyweight Tommy 
Loughran said it best "He is great by instinct or maybe by accident. He doesn't to 
it purposely but he moves in so low that his opponents jab over him." Because of 
his short arms (only a 68 inch reach the shortest of any heavyweight champ Ali by 
comparison had a 82 inch reach) Rocky had to fight his way on the inside without 
the help of a great jab, this meant having to bob and weave his way inside either
slipping or riding through punches. Marciano would stay low always looking to 
unleash his vicious hooks to the body or spring up from the crouch to tag his 
opponent. His short thick legs helped Rocky stand his ground, not allowing him to 
be pushed back against some good punchers. Above all Rocky used his legs almost 
like a coiled snake, dipping low before uncoiling and delivering hard hooks. Maybe
the greatest asset of Rocky was his incredible reserve of stamina and ability to 
shake off punishment. While Rocky was the heart and guts of the machine, his trainer 
Charley Goldman was the imagination, looking for the openings in the foes defense. 
Some say his training included hours of throwing punches under water to improve 
strength. Originally Goldman did not want to take on Rocky, he took him to Al Weill
a New York boxing matchmaker who simply said "He is not very good...... but he has 
power, and something else?". After the affirmation of Weill, Goldman took The Rock 
who at age 24 was much older than most fighters turning him pro because he saw the 
determination and work ethic he thought they could ride to the very top of the 
heavyweight division. Rocky was simply impossible to discourage or keep down. Rocky 
was one of the hardest hitting champions ever knocking out 43 of his 46 opponents. 
The picture taken of his blow delivered to the jaw of Jersey Joe Walcott is one 
the most famous pictures in boxing history, the right hand that delivered the blow 
was nicknamed "Suiz-Q" by Rocky. At the start of his career Rocky was not showcased 
at all, in fact he was hidden from the harsh New York Media in Rhode Island club 
shows until he had formed a solid foundation of skills. And he became very good, 
in fact Muhammad Ali was once quoted "All the great heavyweights champions were 
black. There was Jack Johnson, Jersey Joe Walcott, Rocky Marciano......" Well
at least he was right about him being great. That was also the case out of the 
ring, where Rocky was known as a extremely frugal man (It would eventually cost 
him his life) but also a very charitable man with his time, giving his time to many 
charities. As niece and easy going as he was outside of the ring is how focused and 
pitiless he could be in the ring, Rocky did at times resort to dirty tricks. Rocky 
was born as Rocco Francis Marchegiano in Brockton, Massachusetts the oldest of six 
children born to a poor Italian shoe factory worker. Baseball not boxing was his 
original love and he even got a major league try-outs as catcher but the lack of a 
strong throwing arm ended his dream of being a baseball player. The rumor of how he 
turned to boxing is that while in the army he was stationed in Britain and got into 
a Pub brawl where he knocked out a Australian serviceman. After he joined the base 
boxing team winning the Brigade championship. Rocky was a small heavyweight standing 
5 feet 11, never weighing more than 194 pounds with limited reach. His fists were 
also very small for a heavyweight measuring 11 1/2 inches (Liston's were 14) when 
made into a fist. But they were delivered with passion! After he got out of the 
Army Rocky wrote Madison Square Garden asking for a trial bout, which he was 
offered. Rocky hitchhiked to New York were he left Charlie Goldman unimpressed.
But eventually Weill and Goodman of course took him in. Rocky fought 12 amateur
fights which saw him win the New England Golden Gloves but ended with him losing 
to Coley Wallace (famed for this and portraying Joe Louis in the movie of his life) 
in the eastern championships. It was his last defeat. In his first 11 pro fights 
Rocky knocked out every opponent, eight in the first round. After 13 bouts, 11 
by knockout Weill thought Rocky was ready to move out of the Rhode Island boxing 
clubs to more noticeably venues.  In his 24 fight (22 won by kayo) he took on 
Carmine Vingo a tough fighter in his own right. The two slugged away for six rounds, 
both being rocked on different occasions. Vingo after the bout went into a coma, 
never again boxing. Marciano briefly thought about giving up the sport because of 
the fight with Vingo before Goldman talked him back into the ring. The breakout 
fight for Marciano which would establish him as a contender came in 1950 against 
Roland LaStraza who was unbeaten in 37 fights. The clash was in Madison Square 
Garden, and turned out to be a incredibly close contest that ended in a split 
decision win for Marciano in front of 13,000 people. Rocky knocked LaStraza down 
in the fourth but also had a point deducted for a low blow. The fight proved 
Marciano would not wilt when tested, the fight also gave Rocky much confidence. 
Weill now turned the heat up in earnest going for a world title. Rocky had now 
boxed 35 pro bouts totaling 146 rounds. Heavyweight contender and highly ranked 
Rex Lane (beaten in six rounds), Freddie Beshore (beaten in four rounds) even come-
backing legend Joe Louis (beaten in nine rounds) were dispatched off in impressive 
fashion. The Louis fight while hard for Marciano who idolized the old champ served 
it's purpose and gained Rocky tons of media coverage. Coming into the Louis bout 
Rocky was ranked #5 by the NBA but was still a 8 to 5 betting underdog. The 
momentum of the Louis fight was parlayed into wins over notable heavyweights Lee 
Savold (who Rocky did not look good against before finishing him) and Harry 
Matthews. Now Rocky had earned national stature and champion Jersey Joe Walcott 
agreed to the title fight. Walcott was by far the sternest test for Marciano even 
though he was the oldest heavyweight champion ever at the time. Many speculated 
that Rocky was being overmatched, after 1 round many thought they were correct. 
Walcott was no doubt a aging champion but he was still a consummate boxer. It did 
not look good for Marciano early, he was knocked down in the first round getting 
up at the count of two and cut along the top of his scalp. Now Walcott outboxed 
Marciano round after round. But Charles did take return fire from Rocky, both men 
inflicted damage and were cut. By the 13th round Walcott had only to stand up 
through the last 2 rounds to win the fight by a wide points margin. Rocky had cuts 
on both eyes and during the middle rounds some vaseline found it's way into his 
eyes and burning and blinding him momentarily. But it only took one punch to end 
13 rounds worth of work for Walcott. A single right devastating hand landed flush 
on the jaw of Walcott when he had his back against the ropes. Walcott went down 
and could not beat the count. The hard work of Marciano had paid off in a big way, 
after 43 fights he was now the world heavyweight champion. In his first defense 
of the title Rocky knocked out Joe Walcott in the rematch in just 2 minutes and 
25 seconds. It was the 11th first round knockout of his career. Five more defenses 
followed (only one went the distance) before he announced his retirement in April 
of 1956, seven months after his fight with Archie Moore. In his second defense 
Marciano took on Roland LaStraza again who many thought had beaten Rocky in their 
first meeting, Marciano wanted to prove anyone who thought he los the first wrong. 
That he did by hammering LaStraza for 11 rounds. In the fight Rocky and Weill had 
to find a strategy when they discovered he could not get to the chin of LaStraza. 
Rocky began to hit him around the arms and chest until LaStraza could no longer 
hold his arms up, then Rocky went for the exposed chin. From round 7 on it was 
target practice for Rocky. Finally in the 11th round LaStraza fell. A right hand 
followed by a quick combination stopped the game challenger for the first time in 
his career. LaStraza was found to have burst blood vessels in arms after the fight. 
In 1954 Marciano made two defenses of the title with two classic bouts against 
Ezzard Charles. In the first fight Charles battled Rocky on even terms for 15 rounds 
thrilling a crowd of 45,000 with his determined stands against the bull in front of 
him. The judges correctly favored the advancing Marciano over the counter punching 
of Charles. The second fight had to be made because of the quality of the first 
match. In the second match the nose of Marciano was literally split down the bridge, 
Marciano's left nostril was cut clean in half. Only through the pleading of both 
Marciano and his corner was he allowed to continue over the reservations of the 
referee. Marciano fought through the blood and pain but was behind on the cards 
when once again his power came to the rescue. A flurry of right hands floored the 
tiring Charles in the eight round, the follow up attack knocked Ezzard out cold. 
Next Marciano took on and beat England's Don Cockell, the bout is only remembered 
because it was foul filled to say the least. In his last fight and title defense
Marciano  took on the light heavyweight champion, ageless Archie Moore in front 
of 61,000 fans. Once again he was floored this time in the second round but quickly
bounced back up at the count of four to go after Moore. Rocky slowly wore the 
smaller man down, pounding him to the canvas three times before the bout was 
stopped in the ninth round. Marciano would leave as the only heavyweight champion 
to never have been defeated in his pro career, turning down many lucrative comeback 
offers. He could afford to do so as Marciano had earned over 4 million dollars 
during his career. Two other factors were consistent back pain that Rocky began
to experience late in his career and wanting to spend time with his family. After
his ring career Rocky became a good businessman, investing his ring earning wisely 
but always distrustful of banks. Much of his money however is still not accounted 
for as he did not keep bank accounts, some say it was stashed away in hiding places 
in his home town of Brockton. Much of it (up to 1 million) is still unaccounted 
for and Rocky left no will. in Marciano died while on his way to a small business 
convention, instead of buying a ticket he accepted a free plane ride to the Iowa 
convention. The light aircraft crashed in a storm outside of a small town named 
Newton, near Des Moines. The next day would have been Rocky's 46th birthday, he 
left behind a wife and two teenage children. After his death even the surly Sonny 
Liston had to comment, he stated "This man was one of the greatest champions ever, 
he refused to accept defeat." Truer words are hard to find.


Rocky Marciano

Career Record: 49 W, 0 L (43 K.O's)


     
     1948    

     July 12, 1948      Harry Bilazarian     W KO 1   Providence, RI
     July 19, 1948      John Edwards         W KO 1   Providence, RI
     Aug. 9, 1948       Bobby Quinn          W KO 3   Providence, RI
     Aug. 23, 1948      Eddie Ross           W KO 1   Providence, RI
     Aug. 30, 1948      Jimmy Weeks          W KO 1   Providence, RI
     Sept. 13, 1948     Jerry Jackson        W KO 1   Providence, RI
     Sept. 20, 1948     Bill Hurdeman        W KO 1   Providence, RI
     Sept. 30, 1948     Gil Cardione         W KO 1   Washington, DC
     Oct. 4, 1948       Bob Jefferson        W KO 2   Providence, RI
     Nov. 29, 1948      Patrick Connolly     W KO 1   Providence, RI
     Dec. 14, 1948      Gilley Ferron        W KO 2   Philadelphia, PA

     1949             
          
     March 21, 1949     Johnny Pretzie       W KO 5   Providence, RI
     March 28, 1949     Artie Donato         W KO 1   Providence, RI
     April 11, 1949     James Walls          W KO 3   Providence, RI
     May 2, 1949        Jimmy Evans          W KO 3   Providence, RI
     May 23, 1949       Don Mogard           W PTS 10 Providence, RI
     July 18, 1949      Harry Haft           W KO 3   Providence, RI
     Aug. 16, 1949      Pete Louthis         W KO 3   New Bedford, MA
     Sept. 26, 1949     Tommy DiGiorgio      W KO 4   Providence, RI
     Oct. 10, 1949      Ted Lowry            W PTS 10 Providence, RI
     Nov. 7, 1949       Joe Dominic          W KO 2   Providence, RI
     Dec. 2, 1949       Pat Richards         W KO 2   New York City
     Dec. 19, 1949      Phil Muscato         W KO 5   Providence, RI
     Dec. 30, 1949      Carmine Vingo        W KO 6   New York City

     1950

     March 24, 1950     Roland LaStarza      W PTS 10 New York City
     June 5, 1950       Eldridge Eatman      W KO 3   Providence, RI
     July 10, 1950      Gino Buonvino        W KO 10  Boston, MA
     Sept. 18, 1950     Johnny Shkor         W KO 6   Providence, RI
     Nov. 13, 1950      Ted Lowry            W PTS 10 Providence, RI
     Dec. 18, 1950      Bill Wilson          W KO 1   Providence, RI

     1951

     Jan. 29, 1951      Keene Simmons        W KO 8   Providence, RI
     March 20, 1951     Harold Mitchell      W KO 2   Hartford, CT
     March 26, 1951     Art Henri            W KO 9   Providence, RI
     April 30, 1951     Red Applegate        W PTS 10 Providence, RI
     July 12, 1951      Rex Layne            W KO 6   NYC
     Aug. 27, 1951      Freddie Beshore      W KO 4   Boston, MA
     Oct. 26, 1951      Joe Louis            W KO 8   NYC

     1952

     Feb. 13, 1952      Lee Savold           W KO 6   Philadelphia, PA
     April 21, 1952     Gino Buonvino        W KO 2   Providence, RI
     May 12, 1952       Bernie Reynolds      W KO 3   Providence, RI
     July 28, 1952      Harry 'Kid' Matthews W KO 2   New York City
     Sept. 23, 1952     Jersey Joe Walcott   W KO 13  Philadelphia, PA
                        (Wins Undisputed World Title)

     1953

     May 15, 1953       Jersey Joe Walcott   W KO 1   Chicago Stadium, IL
     Sept. 24, 1953     Roland LaStarza      W RSF 11 Polo Grounds, NYC

     1954

     June 17, 1954      Ezzard Charles       W PTS 15 Yankee Stadium, NYC
     Sept. 17, 1954     Ezzard Charles       W KO 9   Yankee Stadium, NYC

     1955

     May 16, 1955       Don Cockell          W RSF 9  Kezar Stadium, CA
     Sept. 21, 1955     Archie Moore         W KO 9   Yankee Stadium, NYC

     1956

     April 27, 1956       Announces Retirement