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World Heavyweight Boxing Champion
Rocky Marciano was a champion in civilian life and in the Army, receiving high honors for his achievements in both areas.
Rocky Marciano was born Rocco Francis Marchegiano on September 1, 1923 and grew up in a working-class family in Brockton, Massachusetts. Later in his illustrious boxing career, he would become known as the "Brockton Blockbuster."
In his childhood neighborhood of working class families, Rocky had a reputation of being a tough kid. Soon, Rocky's athletic talents came to the fore and he was known more as a baseball slugger than a fighter.
Rocky dropped out of high school and worked to help support his family. Then, in 1943 at the age of 20, Rocky joined the Army and was sent overseas to Europe. Marciano was assigned to the 150th Combat Engineers. The 150th went on to receive service stars for Normandy, North France, Rheinland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe.
It was in the Army that Marciano first began boxing, reportedly as a way to get out of kitchen duty.
Rocky received an honorable discharge from the Army in the summer of 1946. He returned home to Brockton, Massachusetts and continued to box as an amateur. He also began to play baseball for a semi-professional team known as the Taunton Lumber Team. Rocky was invited to tryout with the Chicago Cubs in Fayetteville, North Carolina, but he was turned down for a catcher's position.
Thus, Rocky returned to Brockton and began to seriously prepare for a professional boxing career.
Marciano fought his first professional match on March 17, 1947, defeating Lee Epperson in a third-round knockout.
From there, Marciano went on to win his next 15 matches by knockout. He became known as a tough fighter and powerful puncher with an awkward but winning style.
On October 26, 1951, Marciano showed himself to be a contender when he faced former heavyweight champ Joe Louis and knocked him out in the eighth round. Marciano captured the heavyweight crown in Philadelphia on September 23, 1952, when he scored a knockout against Jersey Joe Walcott in the 13th round. Marciano faced Walcott again in Chicago on May 15, 1953, and defeated him in a first-round knockout.
Rocky Marciano successfully defended his title five more times, with his last professional bout against Archie Moore in New York on September 21, 1955, ending in a ninth-round KO.
On April 27, 1956, Marciano announced his retirement from boxing. When he ended his career, Marciano was the only heavyweight champion with a perfect record: 49 wins in 49 professional bouts, with 43 knockouts. Marciano still had no plans to return to the ring when he died unexpectedly in a small-plane crash on August 31, 1969.
Following his death, many tributes were given to honor Marciano's life, but it was Rocky's one-time opponent Joe Louis who simply stated it best: "Everything I remember about him is good."