Most of us are inspired by all of the Rocky movies. Sylvester Stallone stars as Rocky Balboa, the boxing champion who worked hard to win the fights. We saw how hard Balboa trained for the matches and his determination to win. In every film, the fights got tougher. However, he beat his toughest competitors even though he was sometimes the underdog. Sylvester Stallone’s creation of Rocky Balboa is inspired by the real life heavyweight champion, Rocky Marciano. Holding the heavyweight title from 1952 to 1956 , he retired unbeaten.
Born on September 1, 1923 in Brockton, Massachusetts, Rocky Marciano was already a fighter. When he was a year old, he miraculously survived pneumonia. Marciano’s parents, Pierno Picculo and Pasqualina Ricciuto, were both immigrants from Italy. Coming from a large family, he had three brothers and three sisters.
Growing up, he already showed great athletic ability. He played baseball. As a heavy bag, he used a stuffed mailbag that was fastened from a tree in his backyard. When he attended Brockton High School, he played baseball and football. After the tenth grade, he left high school.
Before becoming a professional boxer,he had several jobs. He worked at the Brockton Ice and Coal Company. He was also employed as a ditchdigger, railroad layer and shoemaker.
In March 1943, he was drafted into the Army and proudly served his country for two years. Stationed in Swansea Wales, he helped ferry supplies across the English Channel to Normandy. In the Army, he demonstrated that he was a champion heavyweight. He won the 1946 Amateur Armed Forces boxing tournament.
As an Olympic hopeful, he competed at the AAU Olympic tryouts in the Boston Garden. After he was knocked out by George McInnis, he sustained an injury that forced him to withdraw. Nonetheless, he was still destined to become a champion fighter.
Leaving amateur boxing, he became a professional heavyweight on July 12, 1948. As a professional heavyweight, he won every competition. One the best matches was when Marciano fought against Roland La Starza on March 24, 1950. The two heavyweights had a really close match. With a scores of 5-4, 4-5 and 5-5, La Stanza was one of the boxers who almost beat Marciano. By obtaining a supplemental point, Marciano won the dead heat match.
Another unforgettable fight was the one between Ezzard Charles and Marciano. Charles, a legendary heavyweight, was certainly a strong boxer. He was the only one to still remain standing against Marciano after 15 rounds.
When Marciano retired from boxing, on April 27, 1956, he had an impeccable record. He had an 87.76% knockout rate. He also finished his boxing career as an undefeated champion.
After his glorious boxing career, Marciano continued to work. He appeared in the Combat! Episode “Masquerade.” He was also a presenter on the weekly box show on TV in 1961. Since he had experience as a wrestler, he became a troubleshooting referee in wrestling. With his charisma, he became a boxing commentator and a referee for numerous years.
In addition to sports, he also became an entrepreneur. He became a business partner and vice president of Papa Luigi Spaghetti Dens. Becoming famous on the big screen, he took part in the filming of The Superfight: Marciano vs. Ali.
Marciano married Barbara. They had two children, a daughter and a son. Mary Anne, Marciano’s daughter, was born in 1954. Sadly, Mary Anne died from a respiratory illness on June 3, 2011. Rocco Kevin, Marciano’s son, was born in 1968.
For being a championship boxer, Marciano received the Sugar Ray Robinson Award in 1952. He was also awarded the Hickory Belt for top professional athlete of the year in 1952. In addition to these two awards, he also received many other honors.
On August 31, 1969, Marciano perished when the small private plane that he boarded, heading to Des Moines, Iowa, crashed. Marciano was just 45 years old when he died. He was traveling on the plane with his childhood friend, Frankie Farrell. Farrell also died in the accident. Glenn Blez, the pilot of the plane, also perished in the crash.
Due to his outstanding record as a heavyweight, Marciano will always be immortalized in the world of boxing. He holds the record, along with Brian Nielsen, for being undefeated. Still to this day, he remains the only world heavyweight champion to be be undefeated during his entire career.
For his legacy, Marciano is honored in two nations. On September 23, 2012, a statue of Marciano was unveiled in the United States outside of Brockton High School. Honoring the birthplace of Marciano’s father, a bronze statue of Marciano was placed in Ripa, Teatina, Italy.