Rocky Marciano, his very name has a ring of the fury and power that made him the undefeated Heavy Weight Champion of the World for 49 fights 43 by knock outs… Marciano, born Rocco Francis Marchegiano in 1923, defended his Title 6 times and retired undefeated in 1956.
At age 46 He died in a plane crash in 1969 on a business trip.
Watching the highlights of his fights he swarmed into every one of his opponents with a relentless barrage of punches and fury and stamina that he physically wore them down to set them up for a Knock Out upper right punch that usually ended each fight.
As a young boy, Rocky really loved his mother’s Italian cooking so much he would be considered chunky, which was exaggerated by his relatively short but muscular arms and legs. Too many meatballs and pasta.
After an honorable stint in the US Army, Rocky decided to become a boxer to impress his girlfriend and friends. He started walking 12 miles a day, drank a gallon of skim milk and in his one big meal a day, he would consume a huge rare steak with potato and veggies and turnip juice.
He was now ready to make Boxing History and on Sept. 23, 1952 by defeating Jersey Joe Walcott for the world heavyweight championship. Although he was knocked down in the first round, and was behind in the scoring, he finally won in the13th by knocking out Walcott with one powerful upper right punch…
Six months later, he Knocked Out Walcott in one round.
As an aside to his greatness, I remember the pride we felt in the North End of Boston especially the Italian immigrants who were trying to assimilate into American Culture. We were also blessed by a Rocky Marciano visit in 1953 to the North End of Boston when he came to visit our-own Fleet Street dynamo Tony DeMarco who had just become the World Welter Weight Champion.
That pride still lingers.
Phil Bellone grew up in Boston’s North End in the 1950’s and 60’s. He writes eclectic articles, about the old and new Boston.