History | Sep 20 2019

Understanding the legacy of Rocky Marciano

Jack Hirsch on Rocky Marciano and his place in the heavyweight division
Rocky Marciano

BECAUSE of the iconic status of the individual and the emotions he stirs, I thought that this story would be one of the easiest ones I ever wrote. But here I am sitting by the keyboard deleting all of my opening paragraphs, trying to find the appropriate words to describe Rocky Marciano whose career many of us were inspired to revisit on the recent 50th anniversary of his untimely death. The former world heavyweight champion was a better fighter than I a writer, but like me he was not usually at his best in the opening rounds either. Rocky Marciano always persevered though and came out on top. Yet his place in boxing history is arguably more complex than any other fighter who came before or after him.

When it comes to Rocky Marciano no other heavyweight champion has caused the division in public opinion that he has. For a time, Mike Tyson came very close, threatened even to eclipse The Rock as the most compelling title holder we could debate about, but a late career collapse dropped him out of the running when we talk about the best ever.

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