An Undiscovered Photo of Rocky Marciano
Dad, this is for you
This is sincerely-dedicated to my dad, Austin Avery, Nov. 3, 1916 -- Sept. 25, 2006. And a more-loyal Rocky Marciano fan, you would be hard-pressed to find.
Boxing journalism had its own style, breath, and category. Rough, bloody, sweaty, and hardly a religious word to be seen. But that was the bloodline of “Blue Collar America,” on boring’s shining day. We understood it. We followed it. And silently kept our place while our dad’s lost themselves temporarily in a radio or primitive television living and breathing just like their heroes, Archie Moore, Sugar Ray Leonard, and then, “the” “Silent Slayer,” Rocky Marciano.
I was wrong when I said “Silent Slayer,” about Marciano. He wasn’t a slayer or one sent to slaughter. Rocky was simply the best. No fireworks, fanfare, or 21-gun salutes. Rocky did not have a desire for these temporal tapestries. Rock just loved boxing, and in his day, boxing was more boxing than today. The business of boxing was cast in the shadows of this sport burning with popularity, spilling from the ring into the forgotten city streets from the alley where bums, drunks, and derelicts called home, to the penthouse where the industrialist reigns while looking down on a city lit-up not as much with electric lights, but the presence of a true star and gentleman: Rocky Marciano.
Rocky's fists did his talking
Words were few for Rocky. Although when he was out of the ring, he was always being flocked by fans wanting his autograph and maybe, if the mood was right, a friendly hug that they could share with family and friends for a lifetime. Rocky was that loved by his true-hearted fans. Marciano didn’t believe in the adage to “just” talk about doing something in the ring, his belief was letting his skills accomplish the feat for him.
“He just wouldn’t go down,” former World Heavyweight Champion, “ Joe “Brown Bomber” Louis remarked after his fight with Marciano, who apparently got stronger with each lick he took from Louis and kept chopping-away at Louis, the more-tactical boxer. But with “that” one punch that Louis never saw coming, he was on the mat in a blur and continued to sit and gain his bearings. Marciano’s punches may not have had length, but oh what power.
A COMEBACK OR NOT?
Sportswriters, both accomplished and amateur agreed that Rocky didn’t take his time climbing into the ring—he went into the ring as if he had to punch a time clock. With some opponents’ boxing savvy, Rocky “was” on a time clock and pulling overtime for how well his opponent would keep standing after several of Rocky’s punches had landed solidly on his face. But with a wink, maybe an unobservant moment, “that” punch that had fell so many of Rock’s opponents, had landed this one as well. And it was so fast how it happened. Sportswriters all agreed that Rocky’s “power punch” was beyond description.
Marciano, who was well-equipped with the tough, enduring boxing skills needed to succeed in the ring, also had a wonderful, easy charisma that drew fans and other people who didn’t know him, to his side and with the magnetic-draw came that certain smile who everyone around the world recognized right away.
Then one day, with all of Rocky’s goals reached and his mountains not climbed, but torn down, it was over. No quarrels, no loud arguing. Rocky was ready to retire and not just retire as a tired boxer, but an undefeated heavyweight boxing champion. His supporters which numbered in the thousands, all but begg aed Rocky to rethink his intention, but they all knew him well enough to know that when Rocky had made up his mind, it was made and nothing or nobody could change it.
Rocky’s retirement was not without controversy. He really came right out and said “why” he was stepping down from an exciting life of boxing to a grinding mundane daily live. And the only real treasure of his career, besides the money that he never valued that much, but the ability to give his wife a new house and it paid for really made Rocky and his wife, very happy.
Down the road, there might have been some hushed-talk of Rocky making a comeback and sure, he could have made it with little work, but once he was living a regular life, that was it. No more sweaty rings. No more blood trickling down faces of his many opponents and his face as well.
This was the “real” Rocky Marciano. “The Master,” who will always wear his undefeated crown.
Solid as a 'Rock'
- Rocco Francis Marchegiano, better known as Rocky Marciano (September 1, 1923 – August 31, 1969), was an American boxer. Marciano was the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion from 1952 until 1956. He had the shortest reach of any heavyweight champion at only 68 inches (173 cm). He was also short for a champion, standing 5'11" (180.3 cm). Marciano is the only heavyweight champion in professional boxing history who never lost or drew (tied) in a professional match. He won 43 fights by a way of knockout or technical knockout, an 87.76% knockout rate.
- His parents were Italian immigrants.
- Professional career
Before becoming a professional fighter, Marciano had an amateur record of 11-3. Marciano's first professional fight was in March 1947. He won the championship from Jersey Joe Walcott on September 23, 1952.
Marciano was named fighter of the year by Ring Magazine three times. His three championship fights between 1952-54 were named fights of the year by that magazine. Marciano's last title fight was against Archie Moore on September 21, 1955. Marciano was knocked down in the fight, but he got up and knocked out Moore in the 9th round. Marciano announced his retirement in a press conference on April 27, 1956.
Marciano considered a comeback in 1959 when Ingemar Johansson won the heavyweight championship from Floyd Patterson on June 26, 1959. However, Floyd Patterson's contract demanded a rematch with Ingemar within one year. After a period in training and thinking about a comeback, Marciano decided against it and never seriously considered a comeback again.
In 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 set in. The pilot tried to land the plane on a small airfield outside Newton, Iowa, but the plane hit a tree two miles short of the runway. The passengers died almost instantly. He is entombed in a crypt at Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His widow, who died exactly five years after him at the age of 46, is entombed next to him.