ROCKY MARCIANO: The Biography of a First Son by Everett M. Skehan

ROCKY MARCIANO: The Biography of a First Son

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When Rocky Marciano, the only heavyweight champion never to lose a professional fight, died in a plane crash in 1969, his life represented the American dream, ethnic division, turned sour: an American tragedy. Marciano (real name: Rocco Marchegiano) grew up during the Depression in Shoe City, Brockton, Mass., the eldest of six kids whose father had a miserable job in a local factory. Rocky, who dropped out of school to become an athlete, was not talented enough for pro baseball, but his sledgehammer punching and almost primordial willingness to take punishment--along with his obsession with money--propelled him to the top of the ugly boxing world. Quite a feat: he was small for the weight division and no boxer, having fragile hands and suffering from back problems (diagnosed as a slipped disk) that could end his career at any time. Heavyweight champs are supposed to be among God's fulfilled creatures, but so far as anyone can tell, Marciano never spent a dime if he could avoid it, and his obsession with security led him into reckless business deals with not-very-respectable characters. Even after retirement he couldn't stop running, which apparently kept him as much an absentee husband and father as boxing did. His heirs are still looking for some of the large sums he reputedly stowed away. A painful story, with effective recaps of each of pro Rocky's fights.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1977
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin