Rocky Marciano: the pioneer of boxing world

People may never share same opinions or favorites in terms of players or sports. People often have different perspectives about their likings and dislikings. It happens also when it comes to the matter of the worldwide champions. So, don’t get too surprised if you see a contradictory piece of insight about Rocky Marciano, yes you heard it right, the Rocky Marciano!

With an unblemished record of 49-0 (43 KO’s), the world champion still had to go through “He was too small”, “He never fought anybody in their prime”, “Can he make it this time” etc. from the noob people who never have been into the ring in reality.

But Marciano believed that these, and many other hateful comments, are a part of his great legacy with the appreciations, and to be frank, he never bothered about them at all. Even his greatest critics and rivals could not show any professional shortage, rather deep within themselves, they knew to some extent that the player is somewhere close to the best, if not the best. 49-0 doesn’t happen by accident.

Early Life Of Rocky Marciano

Marciano was born as Rocco Francis Marchegiano to the Italian immigrants couple Pierino Marchegiano and Pasqualina Picciuto. He was a typical American kid, playing baseball and football and dreaming of a professional career in one of those sports like every other child at that time. From his early childhood, he worked as a gardener, in a candy company, as a dishwasher just to ensure a safe future free from poverty!

Rocky Marciano
Rocky Marciano with his family member; Source: The Boston globe

He along with his three sisters and two brothers lived across the street from the James Edgar Playground, where Marciano spent countless hours playing baseball and certainly he didn’t take up boxing until after 1943 when he was drafted into the Army.

Rocky Marciano and his diversified career

Marciano had his first baseball tryout with the Chicago Cubs as a catcher, but could not show a satisfactory result. He couldn’t make the throw from home plate to second base with accuracy. But by 1949 Marciano’s boxing skills had received much attention, after he knocked out his first sixteen opponents. Still, he had to struggle with an unremarkable amateur career, turning in an unimpressive record of only 8-4. But to our utter surprise, he did prove his worth in all the pro-game, not in any amateur rank!

According to many critics, Marciano lagged behind for having a not-so-much-gigantic physique. Being a guy of 5′ 10″ height and 190 lbs weight, he made sure to conquer the world with this much asset. His body was built a bit like a powerhouse from where he could spell some unbelievable magical move against the opponent. 

Due to less scope, he used homemade weights and techniques for training. But as we know, these techniques were not enough to provide full-course training for his body-building purpose. As a result, he had to go through a bench press exercise, becoming part of the lifting process to compensate for the poorly centered and balanced equipment. 

He left no stone unturned to become physically fit for the challenge and even dug ditches, laid railway ties and lines, and delivered ice and coal at times. Little did he know that all of these lifestyle choices were helping the man who would become the most devastating puncher of all time.

Basically, Marciano started his professional career as a boxer on July 12, 1948 against Harry Bilizarian. He then went on to win his first 16 fights by knockout, all before the fifth round, and nine of them before the end of the first round.

Throughout his whole career, Rocky maintained a knockout record of 87% which is still considered to be a massive one. He beat Joe Louis, Archie Moore, Rex Layne, Jersey Joe, and every single maestro even if it was for once.

Tactics of Rocky Marciano

Marciano’s coach Charley Goldman was behind his success from the very beginning. Goldman taught him to use his short height as an advantage. He told him to make himself smaller by bending his knees almost into a deep knee squat. This gave his opponents fewer targets on his body to hit and boom! You got him as a world champion within no time!

One of the commentators even disclosed the depth and technique of his punches like this, “You could hear Rocky’s knockout punches land from anywhere in the arena – maybe even from the parking lot. In fact, Marciano hit the unfortunate Rex Layne so hard that he broke his jaw and knocked out some of his teeth with one punch”

Rocky Marciano
Rocky Marciano against Charles in a match; Source: World Boxing association

The only time Marciano faced a little hard time was with the unnoticed legend Roland La Starza. He could not win with Marciano but surely gave a tough fight scoring a 57-9 record but with only 27 knockouts. His tactics were so neat and familiar that for a moment Marciano thought he was playing against himself on that evening of March 24, 1950.

There was a tie-breaker where it would mark the only time in his career when a Marciano win met with some resistance from the public. He received some other criticisms about fighting a number of big names when they were past their prime. It was, in particular, to point his wins over Charles and Louis as evidence of their points. 

But come on folks! Charles was only two-plus years older than Rocky and simply there was no “big age difference”. Some also point to the fact that Charles was the Light Heavyweight champion fighting a heavyweight.

Rocky Marciano
Rocky Marciano and Jersey Joe; Source: Old School boxing

The last years 

On April 27, 1956, the guy retired from boxing at the age of thirty-one. “I thought it was a mistake when Joe Louis tried a comeback. No man can say what he will do in the future, but barring poverty, the ring has seen the last of me. I am comfortably fixed, and I am not afraid of the future,” he said in an interview just after retiring from his beloved career. 

Unfortunately, he could not be there to see the following changes in sports. On August 31, 1969, the day before his forty-sixth birthday, he died in a private plane crash near Des Moines, Iowa.

After all these years, we remember Marciano, not for his skill, speed, or power, but his techniques to use the skills he had developed and his fans recognized his grit. One sportswriter commented that if all the heavyweight champions of all time were locked together in a room, Marciano would be the one to skip first. Contrarily we know, no boxer was ever so willing to go through pain, to literally die, if necessary, to win his fights than Marciano.

He could have been the living pioneer for many more years! The world has surely missed some of the magical punches over time!

Sadia Afrin

68 articles

Architecture Student II Content Writer


Leave a Comment