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Biofile: Rocky Marciano Interview

 

(Note: This Biofile interview was done with Rocky’s brother Peter Marciano.)

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: Former Heavyweight champion (1952-1956). Final ring record: 49-0 (43 KO’s). Made six successful title defenses. Only heavyweight champion to retire undefeated.
DOB: September 1, 1923 in Brockton, MA Passed: August 31, 1969
Childhood Heroes: “Tony Lanzeri, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis – he spoke so reverently of him. Felt he was as classy a guy as he had ever met.”
Nicknames: “The Rock, The Brockton Blockbuster, The Champ, King of the Hill.”
Hobbies/Interests: “Absolutely loved reading – philosophy, religion, meditating, baseball.”
Greatest Sports Moment: “September 23, 1952. In Philadelphia, he had just thrown a right cross in the 13th round – coming from certain defeat – to win the Heavyweight championship of the world from Jersey Joe Walcott. And besides the birth of his daughter (Mary Anne), one of the greatest moments of his life was when he asked our father to retire from working in the shoe factory. My dad was the proudest guy in the world. And I think Rocky was even prouder.”
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Most Painful Moment: “The day he knocked out Joe Louis (1951). His boyhood hero. Actually knocked him through the ropes (8th round). Afterward, Rocky said, ‘His career is over and I was the one that had to do it.’ It really did bother him.”
Favorite Movie: “On The Waterfront.”
Musical Tastes: “Big Band.”
Pre-Fight Feeling: “Rocky was a hard, hard worker before a fight. The rigors he went through. I don’t know if anyone came close. When he trained, he was like a monk. He gave up all the Italian foods, no women would enter his life. Literally lived like a monk. He spent a great deal of his time reading. Whenever he went into the ring, he knew in his mind, he was in the very best shape. He knew the opponent could not be in the shape he’s in. Tremendous confidence.”
“He knew in his mind, the power of positive thinking, before the book even came out. He knew when he hit them, they had to go down. He was so positive about it, he could lay down before a fight and fall asleep. A tremendous ability. I saw it with my own eyes.”
(Would he look at his opponents after entering the ring?) He never would look at his opponent. He had his own feeling about that. In the ring he was really a different person. He was, I hate to say it, a killer. Outside the ring he was so much different. Opponents often tried to intimidate him. Rocky always had to have his eyes slightly down. He didn’t want to know anything about the opponent, his family, who he loved, who loved him. It was not personal, just a job to do. After a fight, Rocky never did not go over and see if his opponent was okay.”
Favorite Meal: “Obviously, mom’s (Pasqualena) pasta. But his number one favorite was mom’s homemade lentil soup.”
First Job: “Worked in a factory that made shoe soles.”
Toughest Opponents: “Carmine Vingo and Jersey Joe Walcott.”
Hardest Puncher Encountered: “Vingo. Rocky met him at Madison Square Garden in 1949. Vingo was an Italian from New York City who had nothing but glory days ahead of him. A possible future champion. Rocky said Vingo hit him the hardest in his career.”
Worst Injury: ‘I can tell you from personal observation. Ezzard Charles, 1954. No one really knows what kind of punch did it, maybe an uppercut. It slit underneath Rocky’s nose. Like a slice by a knife. Horrible cut. The doctor came in and was very close to stopping it. The cut was bleeding profusely. Rocky went out and stopped him in the next round, with a straight right, left, right. I remember going into the locker room after, to give my big brother a big hug and a kiss, when he was talking with the reporters. When I saw that cut it almost made me throw up.”
Funny Boxing Memory: “He had a fight early in his career against Don Mogard I think. Before the fight, they met accidentally in the hallway. The guy looked real nervous. He said, ‘I know you’re gonna be a great, great fighter. I’m going to earn a few bucks…I’ve fallen on hard times.’ He let it know he wasn’t excited about being in the ring with Rocky. I guess he was asking Rocky to take it easy on him. And the fight ended up going the distance.”
Favorite Boxers To Watch: “Willie Pep. His number one favorite from Hartford, CT. A real sharp dresser. Rocky was in awe of him. A Deion Sanders type of guy way back then [laughs]. Joe Louis. Muhammad Ali. Tremendous respect for Ali. They met each other many times. Ali always referred to Rocky as ‘The Champ.’ Ali was at the wake (in Brockton in 1969) after Rocky’s airplane accident. A reporter asked Ali a question and Ali said, It wasn’t ‘the time to conduct an interview here. I’m here to pay my respects to one of the greatest fighters to ever live and a great man and a dear friend.’ I was nearby when he said that. I always had the greatest respect for Muhammad Ali.”
Favorite Vacation Spots: “Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Italy.”
Childhood Dream: “Being a Major League Baseball player.”
People Qualities Most Admired: “Absolutely adored his mother and father. They were simple people whose love was unconditional. He admired people who succeed in life. Especially if they could succeed in an honorable way. And could give something back to where they came from. A big believer in that.”
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About Scoop Malinowski

Author of six books including "Muhammad Ali: Portrait of a Champion" and "Heavyweight Armageddon: The Lewis versus Tyson Championship Battle" available at amazon