Brockton Honors “The Rock”

By Ted Sares on September 24, 2012
Brockton Honors “The Rock”
Marciano (real name Rocco Marchegiano) was born in Brockton on September 1, 1923.

Brockton, Massachusetts is a multi-ethnic and densely populated city located in a working-class setting of about 94,000 people on the outskirts of Boston…

“It’s just difficult to describe how good I feel.”—Peter Marciano, Rocky’s brother

“I think it (the statue) is going to bring people to Brocton who want to see it, and then can find the other wonderful things we have in our community.”—Mayor Linda Balzotti

Brockton, Massachusetts is a multi-ethnic and densely populated city located in a working-class setting of about 94,000 people on the outskirts of Boston. It has a whole lot of soul and an interesting history. Perhaps as much as anything, it is known for the rise and fall of the American shoe industry and it has a museum that features that story. It also is referred to as the “City of Champions,” due in part to the great success of its high school athletic programs. Indeed, Brockton High’s nickname is the “Boxers” and its football team has had nine perfect seasons and two state championships. But the nickname is the clue to the real reason why this blue-collar town is known as the “City of Champions.”

Yesterday on a beautiful cloudless day, family members, boxing celebrities, politicians, and seven thousand fans attended a ceremony held in Rocky Marciano Stadium to celebrate the unveiling of a twenty-two and a half foot Rocky Marciano statue. WBC president Jose Sulaiman headed the efforts for the magnificent monument which will create a lasting tribute to the late Rock and keep his connection with Brocton alive forever. Sulaiman and designers Mario Rendon and Victor Gutierrez were on hand for the ceremony, as were Larry Holmes, John Ruiz, Vinny Paz, Irish Micky Ward and relatives of Jersey Joe Walcott. Don King gave a passionate speech lauding Rocky’s persistence. Retired trainer Lou Duva was also present.

Rocky Marciano (real name Rocco Marchegiano) was born in Brockton on September 1, 1923. He became heavyweight champion of the world when he defeated Jersey Joe Walcott in 1952 and held the crown until 1956. Rocky defended his title six times, winning five fights by knockouts. “The Brockton Blockbuster” finished with a perfect 49-0 with 43 KOs. To define his career, look no further than the numbers. Forty-nine fights, forty-nine wins. No defeats. That’s an unparalleled forty-nine straight fights of which forty-three—about 90%—were by stoppages. He fought all the leading opponents of his era: tough guys like Roland LaStarza, Harry “Kid” Matthews, Carmine Vingo, Rex Layne, Ezzard Charles, Archie Moore, Jersey Joe Walcott, and an aging Joe Louis.

Who can argue with his dedication, toughness, ability to impose his will, and ultimate success? He was a relentless brawler who just kept coming, boring in and hurting his opponents with shots to the arms, shoulder, and other exposed parts of the body until they broke down, at which point he would close matters decisively.

Yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of Marciano’s title win over tough Jersey Joe Walcott. Tragically, he left us in a small plane crash in Newton, Iowa on August 31, 1969. He is lovingly remembered by all Brocktonians. While it is impossible to give him his due in a short piece like this, suffice it to say there was only one “Brockton Blockbuster.” He did everything he was supposed to do with those who were put in front of him. In that regard, he achieved perfection.

Some say The Rock may have had a few idiosyncrasies, but if he did, they did not include failing to take his father out of the shoe factory as soon as he won the title, staying in close touch with his Brockton homeboys like Ollie Colombo and Earnie Chivo, being a devoted family man, and never forgetting where he came from.

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  1. the thresher 11:45am, 09/26/2012

    Jethro’s Flute, None that I know of. Youngstown had several champions, but not of this caliber.

  2. Jethro's Flute 09:41am, 09/26/2012

    How many cities the size of Brockton have two fighters of that calibre hailing from them?

  3. Norm Marcus 04:21pm, 09/25/2012

    Very good piece Ted. The Rock was one of a kind. I remember my dad telling me about Rock and his brother. How they walked into the shoe factory and the new champ said, “you’re done here pop.” my own dad had a tear in his eye, telling the story.

  4. the thresher 09:44am, 09/25/2012

    Maybe Hagler gets one in Boston. Rocky was his inspiration.

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 08:35am, 09/25/2012

    Rocky was beautiful….his granite jaw….his shock absorber neck and sloping shoulders….his power lifter arms that delivered trip hammer blows….his tree trunk thighs….his zen like mind that enabled him to absorb punishment and endure pain. I never met Rocky but I remember Rocky….and he was beautiful but he wasn’t an Adonis like some who have come and gone in this sport. I’m sure the family is pleased with the statue and that’s what matters, but for me it looks a lot more like Roland LaStarza’s body than Rocky’s…..God rest his eternal soul.

  6. Jethro's Flute 06:39am, 09/25/2012

    A fitting tribute for a boxing king.

    Does anyone else reckon fellow Brockton, Massachussets fighter Marvin Hagler deserves a statue as well?

  7. john coiley 02:04am, 09/25/2012

    wonderful tribute, Ted, to a tremendous legacy…thank you

  8. Tex Hassler 05:58pm, 09/24/2012

    A wonderful tribute to a truly great heavy weight champion. They broke the mold when they made Rocky. He was a one of a kind and there will never be another like him! Rocky was far from being a crude slugger, he was a master of getting on the inside and making the other man fight his fight. He was also gifted at rolling with the punches. He was also a master at making his small size and short reach be an advantage and work for him. Probably everyone he fought had a considerable reach advantage over Rocky but he knew how to take that away from an opponent.

  9. THE THRESHER 05:06pm, 09/24/2012

    Thanks PP

  10. The Pinoy Pikey 04:28pm, 09/24/2012

    I agree with “Iron Mike” that The Rock’s statue would have been nice in Boston: “Son of Mass”.

  11. The Pinoy Pikey 04:22pm, 09/24/2012

    Ted, nice work, and great coverage of the event.

  12. the thresher 04:09pm, 09/24/2012

    EMAIL from Cynthia Colombo Jautis (Ollie’s daughter and one of my golf partners):

    Pretty cool weekend events! Receptions, road races, amateur boxing, private dinner and the unveiling. Vito Anteferrmo, Larry Holmes, Mickey Ward, Skeeter something (an Olympian with Ali) WBA members from all over the world, Joe Walcotts grandsons, but best speech was Don King….he was great. Peter Marciano acknowledged my dad and the memorial plaque was on display and will be put near the statue. It was a really exciting event for our families and the city!

  13. the thresher 03:38pm, 09/24/2012

    The video is almost scary.

  14. Mike Casey 01:47pm, 09/24/2012

    Yes indeed, Ted, Rocky the magnificent! Thanks for this.

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