Rocky Marciano, jedan od najvećih boksača ikad, rođen je prije 100 godina

Na današnji dan prije ravno 100 godina, 1. rujna 1923. u Brocktonu, Massachusets, rođen je legendarni boksač teške kategorije Rocky Marciano.

Rođen je kao Rocco Francis Marchegiano u obitelji talijanskih migranata. Kada je bio 18 mjeseci star, Rocky je bio na samrti jer se razbolio od upale pluća. No, preživio je i kasnije se u djetinjstvu i mladosti posvetio vježbanju.

Rocky je vježbao na ručno izrađenim tegovima, te je boksao na starim vrećama za poštu koje bi objesio na stablu u vrtu iza kuće. Kasnije je postao i klijent poznatog lokalnog trenera Charlesa Atlasa.

Marciano je postao slavan po tome što je postao prvi borac teške kategorije u povijesti boksa bez zabilježenog poraza u svojoj profesionalnoj karijeri.

Prema tjelesnim statistikama bio jedan on rastom nižih (178 cm), lakših boksača (88 kg) teške kategorije s jednim od najkraćih dosega ruke (176 cm). Ipak, uspio je pobijediti mnogo veće protivnike.

Inače težina i doseg ruke su jedan od ključinh čimbenika koji daju prednost boksačima tijekom borbe. Ovaj nesrazmjer u karakteristikama tijela, isto tako je donio slavu Marcianu, jer je bez obzira na nesrazmjer u svojim tjelesnim osobinama uspijevao savladati boksače koji su po svojim karakteristikama bili puno teži, viši, ili su imali bolje karakteristike u svom zamahu.

Dok je pohađao srednju školu u Brockton High School, bio je angažiran u bejzbol momčadima i američkom nogometu. Zbog kršenja nekih pravila bejzbolske lige, napustio je srednju školu nakon drugog razreda te počeo raditi obične poslove.

U ožujku 1943. godine Marciano je bio pozvan u vojsku SAD s obvezom službe od dvije godine. Poslije je bio premješten u Swansea, Wales gdje je radio u logističkoj službi za Američku vojsku.

 

Po završetku Drugog svjetskog rata, Rocky je bio premješten u Fort Lewis američka savezna država Washington, gdje je tamo je dočekao kraj svoje službe.

Dok je čekao kraj svog vojnog roka Marciano je postao reprezentativac kopnene vojske, i bio postao je pobjednik Vojnog boksačkog amaterskog turnira 1946. godine.

Budući da je Marcianov pravi talent bio boks, kojim se počeo baviti u relativno kasnoj dobi od gotovo 20 godina tijekom služenja vojnog roka u američkoj vojsci, od tada se posvetio isključivo ovom sportu. Nakon odsluženja vojnog roka nastupao je pod imenom Rocky Mack dvanaest borbi kao amater, od kojih je pobjedio osam.

Rockieva amaterska karijera prvi put je završila 17. ožujka 1947. godine kada je imao svoj prvi profesionali nastup u Valley Arena Gardens u Holyoke, Massachusetts kada je pobijedio lokalnog borca Lee Eppersona u tri runde.

Godinu dana kasnije vratio se amaterskom boksu, a kvalifikacijama za olimpijadu on je uspio nokautirati Georgea McInnisa. U borbi s McInnisom, Marciano je ozlijedio ruke i bio je prisiljen napusititi turnir. Ovo je bio zadnji Marcianova amaterski boksački meč.

 

Marciano je kao profesionalac pobijedio svojih prvih 16 protivnika u prvim rundama (uključujući neporaženog Eddieja Rossa). Dana 24. ožujka 1950. pobijedio je neporaženog Rolanda La Starzu (rekord 37-0) u deset rundi na bodove (omjerom 2-1).

U borbi prije toga okončao je profesionalnu karijeru nadobudnog Carminea Vinga, koji je prije toga izgubio samo jednom u 17 borbi.

Međutim, ovo je za njega prošlo lošim nokautom u šestoj rundi i za dlaku je njegov protivnik izbjegao smrt. Godine 1962. Marciano je ovu borbu nazvao svojom najtežom borbom.

Godine 1951. Marciano je nokautom u šestoj rundi pobijedio 23-godišnjeg favorita Rexa Laynea; a ovaj je porazio Jersey Joea Walcotta jednoglasnom odlukom sudaca godinu ranije.

Ovom je pobjedom boksač iz Brocktona definitivno postao jedan od pretendenata za borbu za naslov svjetskog prvaka.

U listopadu iste godine Marciano je okonačno i sportsku karijeru boksačke legende – Joea Louisa. Od poraza na bodove protiv Ezzarda Charlesa 1950. godine, izborio je osam pobjeda zaredom, ali u dobi od 37 godina bio je kraj njegovog vrhunskog boksa i boksao je samo kako bi platio porezne dugove.

Iako je Marciano nokautirao Louis u osmoj rundi, nakon što ga je prethodno također rušio, bilo je očitou tom meču da nova boksačka zvijezda “štedi” svog nekadašnjeg uzora.

Dana 23. rujna 1952., aktualni svjetski prvak Jersey Joe Walcott želio je obraniti naslov protiv Marciana, koji je bio gotovo deset godina mlađi od njega. Unatoč nokdaunu u prvoj rundi (Marcianu se brojalo do “četiri”) i Walcottovoj visokoj bodovnoj prednosti, Marcianova desnica završila je ovaj dvoboj u 13. rundi.

Ova borba je proglašena borbom godine od strane prestižnog RING Magazina.

Prva obrana naslova u svibnju 1953. u Chicagu bio je revanš s Walcottom, koji je “The Rock”, kako su Marciana zvali obožavatelji, dobio nokautom u prvoj rundi.

Naknadna obrana naslova u New Yorku također je bila svojevrsni revanš, jer je protivnik bio Roland LaStarza. Pred 45.000 oduševljenih gledatelja Marciano je osvojio “Polo Grounds” tehničkim nokautom u 11. rundi.

Godine 1954. dvaput je obranio krunu u teškoj kategoriji protiv 33-godišnjeg bivšeg svjetskog prvaka Ezzarda Charlesa. Oba događaja održana su na stadionu Yankee u New Yorku.

Pretposljednju obranu naslova (1955.) imao je protiv britanskog boksača Dona Cockella koji protiv Marciana nije imao šanse i izgubio je u San Franciscu tehničkim nokautom u devetoj rundi.

Posljednji Marcianov protivnik Archie Moore, koji je čak uspio srušiti prvaka u drugoj rundi. Međutim, Moore je i sam padao pet puta tijekom borbe, a Marciano je na kraju pobijedio upečatljivim nokautom.

Sljedeće godine, 27. travnja 1956., Rocky Marciano se umirovio nakon niza od 49 mečeva bez poraza.

Njegov rekord stajao je do 2017. Tek 2015. Floyd Mayweather Jr. uspio je izjednačiti s Marcianovim pobjedama 49-0. Mayweather je 2017. godine s 50 pobjeda nadmašio Marcianov rezultat.

Poginuo je dan prije svog 46. rođendana, 31. kolovoza 1969. godine, u blizini Newtona, Iowa, u zrakoplovnoj nesreći kao putnik u jednomotornoj Cessni 172 tijekom alternativnog slijetanja zbog pogoršanih vremenskih uvjeta.

Pokopan je u Fort Lauderdaleu na Floridi. Marciano je primljen u Međunarodnu boksačku kuću slavnih 1990.

On this day exactly 100 years ago, on September 1, 1923, in Brockton, Massachusetts, legendary heavyweight boxer Rocky Marciano was born.
He was born as Rocco Francis Marchegiano into an Italian immigrant family. When he was 18 months old, Rocky was near death due to pneumonia. However, he survived and later in his childhood and youth dedicated himself to training.
Rocky worked out with homemade weights and would box with old mail sacks hung from a tree in his backyard. Later, he became a client of the well-known local trainer Charles Atlas.
Marciano became famous for being the first heavyweight boxer in history to retire undefeated in his professional career.
In terms of physical statistics, he was one of the shorter (178 cm), lighter (88 kg) heavyweights with one of the shortest reaches (176 cm). Nevertheless, he managed to defeat much larger opponents.
Typically, a boxer’s weight and reach are key factors that provide advantages during a fight. This disparity in body characteristics also added to Marciano’s fame because, despite the physical differences, he managed to defeat boxers who were much heavier, taller, or had better reach.
While attending Brockton High School, he was involved in baseball and American football teams. Due to violating some baseball league rules, he dropped out of high school after the second grade and began working regular jobs.
In March 1943, Marciano was drafted into the U.S. Army with a two-year service obligation. He was later stationed in Swansea, Wales, where he worked in the logistical service for the U.S. Army.
After World War II ended, Rocky became a representative for the U.S. Army’s ground forces and won the Military Amateur Boxing Tournament in 1946.
Since Marciano’s true talent was boxing, which he started at a relatively late age of almost 20 years during his service in the U.S. Army, he dedicated himself exclusively to this sport. After completing his military service, he fought under the name Rocky Mack, with twelve amateur fights, eight of which he won.
Rocky’s amateur career ended on March 17, 1947, when he had his first professional bout at Valley Arena Gardens in Holyoke, Massachusetts, defeating local fighter Lee Epperson in three rounds.
A year later, he returned to amateur boxing and qualified for the Olympics by knocking out George McInnis. In the fight with McInnis, Marciano injured his hands and was forced to withdraw from the tournament. This was Marciano’s last amateur boxing match.
As a professional, Marciano defeated his first 16 opponents in the early rounds (including the undefeated Eddie Ross). On March 24, 1950, he defeated the undefeated Roland La Starza (record 37-0) in ten rounds by a split decision (2-1).
In the fight before that, he ended the professional career of the ambitious Carmine Vingo, who had previously lost only once in 17 fights.
However, this fight passed with him being knocked out in the sixth round, and his opponent narrowly escaped death. In 1962, Marciano called this fight his toughest.
In 1951, Marciano defeated 23-year-old favorite Rex Layne by a sixth-round knockout, who had previously beaten Jersey Joe Walcott by a unanimous decision a year earlier.
With this victory, the boxer from Brockton definitively became one of the contenders for the world heavyweight title.
In October of the same year, Marciano finally fought the sports legend Joe Louis. After a loss on points to Ezzard Charles in 1950, Louis had eight consecutive victories, but at the age of 37, his peak boxing was over, and he was only boxing to pay off his tax debts.
Although Marciano knocked Louis out in the eighth round, after previously knocking him down, it was evident in that match that the new boxing star was “saving” his former idol.
On September 23, 1952, the reigning world champion Jersey Joe Walcott wanted to defend his title against Marciano, who was almost ten years younger than him. Despite a knockdown in the first round (Marciano was counted to “four”), and Walcott’s high lead on points, Marciano’s right hand ended this match in the 13th round.
This fight was named the Ring Magazine’s Fight of the Year.
His first title defense in May 1953 in Chicago was a rematch with Walcott, whom “The Rock,” as Marciano’s fans called him, knocked out in the first round.
The subsequent title defense in New York was also a kind of rematch, as the opponent was Roland LaStarza. In front of 45,000 thrilled spectators, Marciano won the “Polo Grounds” with a technical knockout in the 11th round.
In 1954, he defended the heavyweight crown twice against the 33-year-old former world champion Ezzard Charles. Both events took place at Yankee Stadium in New York.
The penultimate title defense (1955) was against the British boxer Don Cockell, who had no chance against Marciano and lost by a technical knockout in the ninth round in San Francisco.
Marciano’s last opponent, Archie Moore, even managed to knock the champion down in the second round. However, Moore himself fell five times during the fight, and Marciano eventually won with an impressive knockout.
The following year, on April 27, 1956, Rocky Marciano retired after a streak of 49 undefeated fights.
His record stood until 2017. In 2015, Floyd Mayweather Jr. managed to match Marciano’s 49-0 victories. In 2017, Mayweather surpassed Marciano’s record with 50 wins.
He died the day before his 46th birthday, on August 31, 1969, near Newton, Iowa, in an airplane crash as a passenger in a single-engine Cessna 172 during an alternative landing due to worsening weather conditions.
He was buried in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Marciano was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.