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Flashback: Rocky Marciano – Profiled: Part 1

By John F. McKenna (McJack): Rocky Marciano, AKA the “Brockton Blockbuster” – real name Rocco Marchegiano, was born to Italian Immigrant parents on September 1, 1923. He was born and raised in Brockton, Massachusetts. Rocky had three sisters and two brothers. As a youth he played baseball and worked out with homemade weightlifting equipment. When Rocky exhibited an interest in boxing he would use a stuffed mailbag which hung from a tree in his back yard as a heavy bag. He attended Brockton High School where he played on the baseball and football teams. He was forced to drop out of the baseball team when he joined a church league which violated the school rules. Rocky dropped out of high school after completing the tenth grade, after which he worked on delivery trucks for the Brockton Ice and Coal Company. He also worked as a shoemaker and a ditch digger.

Rocky was drafted into the US Army in March 1943 and helped ferry supplies across the English Channel to Normandy. While awaiting discharge from the army, Rocky became interested in boxing and in 1946 he won the Amateur Armed Forces Boxing Tournament.
The “Brockton Blockbuster” finished his abbreviated amateur career with eight wins and four losses. It would be the last time he ever experienced a loss in the ring. In March of 1947 Rocky and a few of his friends headed to Fayetteville, North Carolina to try out for the Fayetteville Cubs, a farm team for the Chicago Cubs. Rocky lasted three week before he was cut. Marciano then returned to Brockton where he began boxing training with longtime friend Allie Colombo. Al Weill served as his manager and Charley Goldman as his trainer and teacher.

With his team in place, Rocky began his boxing career on July 12, 1948. He Ko’d his first sixteen opponents, all before the fifth round and nine in the first round. Early in his career, Rocky changed his last name from Marchegiano to Marciano at Al Weill’s suggestion because ring announcers were having too much difficulty pronouncing his name. Goody Petronelli, noted fight trainer of the time, did not think Rocky would make it as a fighter. Rocky was nearly twenty five years old when he began his pro career, a relatively late start for a fighter. Petronelli believed that Rocky at 5’10”, was too short, he was too light and he only had a 68” reach. Further, his technique at the time appeared to be awkward and crude. Marciano’s fans however, became believers and would travel in groups to Providence Rhode Island to watch his fights.

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