Rocky Marciano


Charlotte, NC– It used to be that we would gather in the barber shop or in the community store and have “warm conversations” over which era’s fighters were better or who was best pound for pound. Today we get our hair cut at “salons” and try not to talk at all, the community store is a place you go only to get robbed, so we come to web portals like for our “warm conversations” and while the content remains much the same, the arguments still remain unsolved.


You know by now The Professor is firmly ensconced in the “Old School” is not only better but is the only school when it comes to the manly art of self-defense. Now, those who disagree with me will often often cite for their reasoning things like modern developments in training methods, nutrition, medicine (i.e. Vitamin S; performance enhancing drugs), etc. And while I disagree with both their position and logic (advances in modern training? I’ll lay 2-1 the ones that bring that one up have never even been in any kind of gym!) I will defend their right to remain blind to fisticuff history if they so choose.


So, if any would like to read along, I would like to educate my fellow boxing fan (and really if you love boxing, we really are on the same side!) , so let’s take a moment to look at a great example of an “Old School” fighter, Rocky Marciano. Born on September 1, 1923, Rocky almost died of Pneumonia in 1925. The Doctor treating the very sick young child did all that could be done at that time and told the concerned parents, “I’ve done everything possible. It will depend upon the boy’s own spirit now, whether he has the will to fight this sickness. But, if can overcome this, you will have a very strong son here, Mrs. Marchegiano.” [Everett M. Skehan: Rocky Marciano, Biography of A First Son] Of course Rocky recovered, and you all know he went on to become the heavyweight champion and become the only heavyweight champion to finish his career undefeated.


You all know about his knockout power. But you may not know that Rex Layne had his teeth sheared off at the gums by a Marciano punch, or that Roland LaStarza’s arms were broken in his fight with the Rock. When was the last time that has happened with a modern fighter?


You also probably didn’t know that Marciano used to train longer and harder than probably any heavyweight in history. He had a custom made 300 pound heavy bag made, a little over three times heavier than what today’s modern fighters use. Hummm. So, the Rock had to work even harder to punch and move the bag around. Archie Moore, who I wrote about last time, said of Rocky, “He was far and away the strongest man I have ever encountered.”


But Marciano wasn’t only known for his strength. He had stamina coming out the wazoo! He was known for running six to eight miles every day, even on Christmas, whether he had a fight scheduled or not. Add to that taking an eight to twelve mile hike every day, in addition to the running. Before fights, he would up the running to around fifteen miles a day, much more than any modern day fighter. This explains the Rocks phenomenal punch rate in the ring, averaging ninety punches per round, with gusts up to one hundred and twenty five per round! Even well-seasoned boxers and slick craftsmen of the ring such as Ezzard Charles (an extremely underrated and overlooked fighter in history) and Archie Moore simply could not handle the barrage that Rocky threw. Archie said, “It was like fighting an airplane propeller!” When was the last time you’ve heard that said about a modern heavyweight?


Of course, Marciano was tough, had an iron chin, and was only down twice in his pro career, for a total of…5 seconds. But perhaps Rocky’s greatest toughness was the mental toughness he brought. Rocky weighed during his career from 178 to 192, and all of it was heart. He never got discouraged in the ring, coped with everything that was thrown at him, and never got rattled. He had ice water in his veins. He was floored, cut, and beaten up by “Jersey Joe” Walcott, behind on points through thirteen rounds. He wasn’t thinking “Broken Little toe” and he found an opening uncorked “Suzie Q” and won the heavyweight championship of the world. He was losing, big time, but he found a way to win! He even had his nose dissected by Ezzard Charles elbow, and was losing so much blood the referee said, “One more round and I’ve got to stop it!” And Rocky found a way to stop it himself when he KO’d Charles in the next round.


Rocky was “Old School.” He messed people up. None of his opponents, save the “ol Mongoose was ever the same after fighting Rocky. Can the same be said of any boxer fighting today? Now, I know that a lot of modern day “experts” will try to downplay Rocky’s opponents. However, an honest and careful look at his opponents will show they were worthy contenders. Remember Rocky was 5’10” 185 pounds.


Rex Layne was highly favored over Marciano before their fight. Layne was a big puncher, was called the next Jack Dempsey. Layne held a victory over Walcott and had a record of 34-1-2 with 24 KO’s going into the Marciano fight. The Rock knocked him out in the 6th round, breaking his jaw and shearing his teeth off at the gums.


Carmine Vingo, 6’4”, 220 pounds. Another heavy puncher. Was knocked out in the 6th round, went into a coma, and was left paralyzed on one side of his body. (This greatly troubled Rocky, who helped support Vingo)

Veteran Contender Lee Savold, had fought all the top names of his day and won many. Savold’s corner threw in the towel during the 6th round when Savold was no longer able to defend himself.

Roland LaStarza was a very good boxer-puncher who was an up and comer who was beating everybody, and Rocky beat him twice. Their first encounter was an extremely close decision for Marciano, the second left LaStarza in the hospital with broken arms and blood clots which needed surgery.

Harry Mathews was ranked #5, and was Rocks last fight before winning the title. Mathews had an impressive record of 96-3-6 before fighting Rocky. Rocky took him out in the second round with two left hooks. And of course there was “Jersey Joe” Walcott, Ezzard Charles, Archie Moore, and British champion Don Cockell.


As champion, Rocky not only was “Old School,” but he would clean up today’s heavyweight division in about three months. He trained to a fault, he never ran his mouth or gloated, and he was never cocky and fought everybody around, ducking no one. Outside the ring, he was as a champion of his day was expected to be; a gentleman. How many modern day fighters can that be said about?
Rocco Francis Marchegiano, Lord knows, boxing needs him and his ilk now more today than ever!

Professor Chuck Marbry


  • Great fighter. He retired undefeated and never tied which makes him great. How many champs retire unbeaten? Calzage, ottke and maybe Floyd mayweather. It’s just a great achievement. I knew an old timer from Vingo’s neighborhood. He saw the fight and said, it was just brutal with vingo giving as good as he got, eventually he got worn down. Rocky defense is underrated to. He got cut, but I don’t remember seeing to many fights where he had a badly swollen face. Which would happen to a white face first brawler. To me it looked like he rolled with a lot of punches.

  • I don’t think Arturo Gatti fought anything like Marciano. Gatti was actually a very good athlete with a solid amateur background. He had good technique, balance and could box well. He just couldn’t box as well and wasn’t as athletic as the De La Hoyas and Mayweathers of the world.

    He also had balls the size of grapefruits. Not everyone in this sport is in it just for the money. I’m sure Gatti could have hid behind his jab in some, if not many, fights, but he wanted to see who was more of a man. It wasn’t just about boxing, it was about who could kick who’s ass.

    That’s why people loved to watch him.

  • Also, Rocky did not “break” LaStarza’s arms. He broke some blood vessels. Nothing wrong with being a Marciano fan, but let’s not go over the top here 😉

  • ^^^^Please delete my post above as I screwed it up! Thank you! That’s what I get for watching Judge Judy as I post! 😀

  • Heavyweights:
    1. Jack Johnson
    2. Jack Dempsey
    3. Joe Louis
    4. Gene Tunney
    5. Jim Corbett
    6. Rocky Marciano
    7. John L. Sullivan
    8. Peter Jackson
    9. Bob Fitzsimmons
    10. Tom Sharkey

    1. Jack Johnson
    2. Jack Dempsey
    3. Joe Louis
    4. Gene Tunney
    5. Jim Corbett
    6. Rocky Marciano
    7. John L. Sullivan
    8. Peter Jackson
    9. Bob Fitzsimmons
    10.Tom Sharkey

  • “As champion, Rocky not only was “Old School, ”but he would clean up today’s heavyweight division in about three months”

    Rocky would have been a small Cruiserweight in today’s weight divisions…sorry.

    HEIGHT 5-10 1/4 (Some sources report 5-11)
    WEIGHT 178-192 1/2 lbs

  • Joe Diaz used to run with Marcianio in steele toe boots on the beach.I asked him once if he ever got in the ring with him and Joe replied”hell no he used to split the heavy bags and thats when they were made of sand”

  • Good article! I have to agree with much of what is said here (especially the last sentence). BUT…let’s not be TOO liberal with our facts here;-). Carmine Vingo was not “6’4, 220”. Not even close, actually. He weighed in the 180-190 pound range; a cruiserweight by today’s standards:

    Otherwise, good stuff!

  • Rocky was a great fighter for his time (with emphasis on HIS time). He made the most with the least and his ability to take your best shot, impose his will and slowly break you down was something to watch. Having seen a few of his fights on tape, my initial reaction is always the same….how did this guy become champion? No defense, no jab, no head movement, slow footwork, and looping telegraphed punches…and yet he always won!!! Just the other night, a local network replayed Marcianos fight against Joe Louis and for the first few rounds I’m thinking the same thing…but Rocky just did his usual bulling his way inside and landing anywhere he could until old man Joe just couldnt continue. Would it have been the same result 10 years earlier when Louis was in his prime, probably not. Could a 5’10 fighter with no jab get past a Klitchko jab, probably not. On the other hand, would Rocky come up with a BS excuse like his toe hurt so he lost….absolutely not. Rocky had more courage in his pinky toe that Haye had in his entire body. If I had to make a comparison, I would say Marciano was a heavyweight version of Arturo Gatti, some talent but also at the right place at the right time. Rocky was certainly a hard working fighter who respected his profession but also was fortunate enough to leave before the emergence of a young Cassius Clay. With his hand speed, accuracy and constant movement Clay would cut Rockys face to pieces while avoiding his looping shots..much the way he dismantled Sonny Liston. It would have been fun to watch while it lasted because Rockys fans would wonder if he’d be able to land another miracle shot like the one that got him the title….but unfortunately after a 15 round beating they’d realize Rocky already had his one miracle.

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