Rocky Marciano, 1923-1969, was the world’s undefeated heavy-weight boxing champion from 1952 to 1956 when he shocked the sports world by retiring at the age of thirty-two.
Although he came from Brockton, MA, many Rhode Island sports fans adopted him since he fought the majority of his contests in Providence’s now demolished Providence Auditorium on North Main Street. This Rhode Island building became the international mecca for boxing enthusiasts during the early 1950s.
Born Rocco Marchegiano, Rocky was the son of immigrant parents. Although he did not graduate from Brockton High School, the large sports building is named after him, and he was affectionately known as the “Brockton Bomber.”
Rocky was undefeated in forty-nine professional fights, the only heavyweight champion to accomplish such a record. Known for his relentless fighting style, and formidable punching power, Marciano has been included by various boxing historians in lists of the greatest boxers of all time.
Before Mariano, most white boxing champions never fought black athletes. In fact, heavyweight champs such as Jack Dempsey refused to challenge any black contenders. On the other hand, one of Rocky Marciano’s greatest accomplishment is that he fought all challengers, regardless of race. His greatest heavy weight champion fights were pitted against African Americans: Ezzard Charles, Archie Moore, and Jersey Joe Walcott. In a sense, Rocky helped to set the stage for the Civil Rights Movement, which began in the early 1950s. During this period, most sports organizations such as the Boston Red Sox, refused to accept black players.
Unfortunately, Rocky Marciano met a tragic death in 1969 as a result of the crash of his small plane in Iowa.