Rocky Marciano's Obituary:
Rocky Marciano, the only undefeated heavyweight champion in boxing history, died in a plane crash on August 31, 1969. He was 45.
Marciano was born September 1, 1923 in Brockton, Massachusetts. Weighing 12 pounds at birth, he contracted pneumonia at 18 months and almost died.
In high school, he played baseball and football, but dropped out of school before graduation. He worked at a variety of jobs before getting a relatively good job at the Brockton shoe factory where his father worked.
Marciano was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1943. Shipped overseas, he was sent back to Fort Lewis, Washington to await a Pacific assignment. While at Fort Lewis, he got involved in amateur boxing. Returning home on leave, he fought a local Golden Gloves champion, and was disqualified for kneeing his opponent illegally.
After returning to Fort Lewis, he broke his left hand in a Portland, Oregon match. After his discharge, he went home. Marciano tried out for the Chicago Cubs baseball team, but did not get an offer. He decided to concentrate on boxing by getting in top physical shape.
He began a 12 fight amateur boxing career in 1946. He eventually won the New England Golden Gloves title, but lost in the finals of the Eastern championships. The loss would be Marciano’s last as a boxer.
He turned professional in 1947. At just under 6 feet and 185 pounds, he was small by heavyweight standards, but he packed a powerful punch and had staying power.
Marciano began to rise in the contender ranks. In 1951 he knocked out an aging Joe Louis, and in 1952 knocked out champion Jersey Joe Walcott in the 13th round to become the new heavyweight titleholder.
Marciano defended his title six times over the next four years, five of the victories by knockouts. His last title defense came against Archie Moore in 1956. After he knocked out Moore, Marciano retired as undefeated champion, the only person ever to finish his career with no defeats. Forty-three of his 49 wins were knockouts.
Shortly before his death, an overweight Marciano was approached by promoters to fight a computer generated match against Mohammad Ali, who had been stripped of his title in 1967 when he refused to be inducted into the U.S. Army.
Marciano got himself into shape to stage the fight. Many of the fight scenes had to be performed by the boxers themselves. When the two met, it was reported that Marciano was ready to actually duke it out with Ali if need be. When Ali taunted Marciano about his toupee, and knocked it off Marciano’s head three times, Marciano hit Ali with a hard body punch that doubled Ali over. Ali apologized for the toupee incident, and the two finished the match without further incident.
The result of the computer match was a Marciano knockout in the 13th round.
Marciano died in a plane crash enroute to a birthday party in Newton, Iowa on August 31, 1969, one day short of his 46th birthday.
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