Boxing Legend Rocky Marciano • Passport 1965

These days another exciting reader’s email came in offering the US passport of Rocco Francis Marchegiano, better known as Rocky Marciano. Rocky was an American professional boxer who competed from 1947 to 1955 and held the world heavyweight title from 1952 to 1956. He is the only heavyweight champion to have finished his career undefeated! Boxing Legend Rocky Marciano

Black & White postcard of World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Marciano, circa 1953

Marciano remains the only fighter to have stopped every opponent he ever faced for the world heavyweight title and holds the highest knockout-to-win ratio in world heavyweight title fights at 87.8%. His career knockout-to-win percentage of 87.8% remains one of the highest in heavyweight boxing history.

Rocky Marciano started fighting as a professional boxer in 1948, winning a fight against Harry Bilizarian. He then went on to win his first 16 fights. In 1952, he beat Jersey Joe Walcott for the world heavyweight championship. Marciano defended his title six times. He retired in 1956 and died in 1969.

In Brockton, Massachusetts, Marciano was born as Rocco Francis Marchegianon on September 1, 1923, to Italian immigrants Pierino Marchegiano and Pasqualina Picciuto. Marciano and his three sisters and two brothers lived across the street from the James Edgar Playground, where Marciano spent countless hours playing baseball. He worked out on homemade weights at a young age and did chin-ups until he “was fatigued.” Boxing Legend Rocky Marciano

Marciano attended Brockton High School and played baseball and football but got cut from the varsity baseball team when he violated rules by joining a church league. He dropped out of school in the 10th grade and began jumping from job to job, one of which was a floor sweeper position at Brockton’s shoe factory. In 1943, Marciano was drafted into the Army and sent to Wales, where he ferried supplies across the English Channel to Normandy. He completed his service in March 1946 at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Marciano met Barbara Cousins, the daughter of a retired Brockton police sergeant, in 1947. They married on December 31, 1950. They had one daughter, Mary Ann, and adopted a son, Rocco Kevin. Boxing Legend Rocky Marciano

After boxing, in 1961, Marciano hosted a weekly boxing show on TV. He also worked as a referee and boxing commentator for many years in boxing matches. On August 31, 1969, the eve of his 46th birthday, Marciano was killed in a tragic plane crash. Five years later, Barbara succumbed to lung cancer at age 46.

Rocky Marciano US Passport 1965

Two others died in the crash: Marciano’s family friend Frankie Farrell, and the pilot Glenn Belz. The plane took off around 6 pm from Midway Airport in Chicago, bound for Des Moines, Iowa. Farrell had planned to open a Des Moines-based insurance agency, and Marciano had agreed to come to support his friend.

 

The plane went down about 30 miles from Des Moines, in Newton, Iowa. In retrospect, the accident was all the more tragic because it could easily have been avoided. To begin with, the plane had taken off despite warnings in Chicago of poor weather along their flight path. Even worse, the pilot was not qualified to fly a plane at night. Boxing Legend Rocky Marciano

 

A report conducted after the crash determined that Belz had found himself in circumstances that exceeded his experience and abilities. A more professional approach would have been to weigh the known weather factors against his piloting experience, making a conservative judgment about whether it was safe to fly. Instead, the preventable accident cost the world a legendary boxer.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t close a deal with the owner, but I can show his document here.

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