Rocky Marciano Was Born This Day

Rocky Marciano was born Rocco Francis Marchegiano, on September 1, 1923, in Brockton Massachusetts. During his career, Marciano held the heavyweight boxing title for four years in the 1950s and retired with a perfect record of 49-0 with 43 knockouts.

The Rock is an extremely rare example of a boxer that made it to the elite top level of boxing despite being a late comer to the sport.  He first played football and baseball, dreaming of becoming a professional athlete with either endeavor. A catcher in baseball, he had major league tryouts. When they didn’t pan out, he turned to boxing.

He didn’t garner much attention at first, predictably so as he had an amateur record of 8-4 before turning pro at 23 years of age.  It wasn’t until he started beating journeymen to contender level opponents such as Phil Muscato and Carmine Vingo that people took notice.  The Vingo bout nearly ended in tragedy when Vingo got knocked out and suffered a brain injury that ended his career.  Long forgotten by the boxing community, Carmine remained a friend of The Rock and always said that he was the nicest person a guy would ever meet.

Rocky’s first big bout was against Roland LaStarza at Madison Square Garden in March of 1950.  Both fighters were undefeated with a combined record of 62-0 with 40 knockouts.  The bout was close by the scoring system then in effect. The ref had it 5-5 and the judges were split, each scoring it 5-4-1. By rule, the referee kept a supplemental scorecard to be used in the case of ties that took into effect such factors as knockdowns. Marciano had LaStarza on the canvas in the 4th round, a contributing factor on the supplemental scorecard which favored Rocky 9-6. Bottom line: Marciano was credited with winning a split decision.

The Rock’s next big fight was his first on television in July of 1951.  He was facing Rex Layne who, like Marciano,  was known as a powerful puncher The two fighters had a combined knockout percentage of 80%.  Rocky upset the odds, beating up Layne with a two fisted attack  on route to stopping him in the sixth round.  This is the fight that really got the serious title talk started for Marciano.

On came the fight with Joe Louis, who was well past his prime and Rocky’s longtime idol.  The Brown Bomber was no match for the young, hungry machine in front of him.  Marciano bided his time against the legendary but shopworn 38-year-old ex-champion, respecting Louis’s power, until Louis started to fade and then blasted right through him.  The loss was Louis’s third and the last of his career.

Five fights later, in September of 1952, Rocky, now 42-0,  got his long awaited title shot against Jersey Joe Walcott. Jersey Joe was the 38-year-old ageless wonder, the oldest man to ever hold the heavyweight title at that time.  As most everyone knows, Marciano was trailing on the scorecards when he knocked Walcott out cold with a vicious right hand in the 13th round.

Marciano would go on to defend the title six times. He knocked out Walcott in the first round of their rematch in May of 1953, then knocked out Roland La Starza later that year. He won a decision against Ezzard Charles in June of 1954 and then almost lost his title when they fought again three years later. In the rematch, Charles cut Marciano’s nose so badly that Marciano’s corner warned him before the eighth round that he had one more round to win the fight before they stopped it to prevent permanent damage to his nose; it looked like a split walnut.  The Rock went out with a two fisted power attack in the eighth and stopped Charles.  It was classic Marciano.

On April 27, 1956, Marciano retired from boxing at the age of 31.  As everyone knows, he retired undefeated. True to his word, he never did make a comeback.  While his title reign was relatively short, Rocky does have a few signature wins that are cemented forever in boxing history to go along with his perfect record.  It goes to show that heart, toughness, discipline and determination can overcome other intangibles in boxing.  Add to that the fact that Rocky is a perfect example that late comers can rise to the very top in boxing; it just requires a very special person.

 

In memoriam we say happy 93rd birthday to Rocky Marciano

COMMENTS

-KO Digest :

Cool photo. Not sure I ever saw that one before. As a Brocktonian, I wrote this tidbit on KO Digest this morning: "Exactly 93 ago today in 1923 in the City of Champions, Brockton, Massachusetts, Rocky Marciano is born Rocco Francis Marchegiano. In his nearly 46 years on Earth, the "Brockton Blockbuster" put his city on the map, won the undisputed world heavyweight championship, went 49-0, and beat Muhammad Ali in the famous computer fight. Marciano also did his duty to America, serving honorably in the Army. Brockton is also famous for its very successful high school football program. Given his choice of modern day football activist, I'm inclined to think "The Rock" would have had much more respect for the ultimate sacrifice of Pat Tillman than the refusal of Colin Kaepernick to stand up in respect for brave men like Pat Tillman."


-Radam G :

Happy b-day to the late, great Rocky. From the top of my dome, 95 percent of pugs didn't use their birth names in their scraps a time ago. I've heard many reasons why. Such as the name being long like Rocky's was. Or not enough space to put the last name on the fight application like in the case of the late, great Joe Louis. Or using the nickname for your original first name like the late, greats John (Jack) Johnson and James (Jimmy) Ellis did. Or to want maximum love from a father or brothers like Floyd Joy Sinclair and Donald Sample did. And the reasons go on and on like why the late, great Jack Dempsey did not use his original name. You can look up the possible why. Holla!


-KO Digest :

Would also like to add this today: The Great White Heavyweight Coincidence — Tommy "The Duke" Morrison passed away on the same date that the "Brockton Blockbuster" Rocky Marciano was born: September 1st, today. Morrison's early death came exactly 90 years TO THE DAY after Marciano's birth today in 1923. Consider also that Marciano passed away in 1969, the same year Morrison was born. Only 420 miles separated these fistic events. Maybe Rocky Balboa should have given Tommy Gunn that Rocky Marciano cuff-link in Rocky IV after all instead of to his son that never "took to" boxing and moved to Vancouver with his girlfriend. Here's to the birth of the real Rocky and to the death of a real life heavyweight championship contender.


-Radam G :

Would also like to add this today: The Great White Heavyweight Coincidence — Tommy "The Duke" Morrison passed away on the same date that the "Brockton Blockbuster" Rocky Marciano was born: September 1st, today. Morrison's early death came exactly 90 years TO THE DAY after Marciano's birth today in 1923. Consider also that Marciano passed away in 1969, the same year Morrison was born. Only 420 miles separated these fistic events. Maybe Rocky Balboa should have given Tommy Gunn that Rocky Marciano cuff-link in Rocky IV after all instead of to his son that never "took to" boxing and moved to Vancouver with his girlfriend. Here's to the birth of the real Rocky and to the death of a real life heavyweight championship contender.
Rest in power, TM! Your son is on his way up that fight ladder. Holla!


-KO Digest :

OMG I feel like such an idiot, I meant to say Rocky V!