PROFESSOR MARBRY: THE GREATNESS OF “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 RingTalk.com for our “warm conversations” and while the content remains much the same, the arguments still remain unsolved.
“OLD SCHOOL” IS THE ONLY SCHOOL!
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.
ROCKY ALMOST DIED AS AN INFANT
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.
ROCKY WAS AN UNLICENSED DENTIST!
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?
TRAINED FOR MONTHS AND LONG HOURS DAILY
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.”
“THE ROCK” HAD IT ALL FOLKS!
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?
MARCIANO DID GET DROPPED A COUPLE OF TIMES
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.
ALL ABOUT BEING OF THE “OLD SCHOOL”
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.
AFTER ROCKY, REX BECAME A BOXING FOOTNOTE SANS TEETH
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.
LIST OF VICTIMS CONTINUE
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.
WOULD BE CHAMPION TODAY DESPITE SIZE
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