Rocky Marciano grew up playing football and baseball. He had never even put on boxing gloves until after he was drafted into the Army in 1943. After basic training and deployment to Wales, he came to Fort Lewis in 1946 for discharge. During this time Rocky was feeling a little “bored” and made what would be a crucial decision to inject a little excitement and adventure into his life. He volunteered to represent his unit at Ft. Lewis in a series of amateur fights.Shortly thereafter, he recalled that “Sparring partners were suddenly becoming short in supply. So I knew I was doing something right."
Unlike most professional athletes who came through the installation, Marciano had no previous boxing experience. The majority of his work resume was delivering ice and other manual labor. Marciano went to the boxing gym on base as a way of avoiding less than desirable chores. Through the year, he accumulated an amateur record of 8-4 and won the 1946 Amateur Armed Forces Boxing Championships. “He hadn’t any formal training, and he had no style to speak of, but his punch was enough to ensure success,” wrote Russell Sullivan in his 2002 biography, “Rocky Marciano: The Rock of His Times.”
Shortly after leaving the Army, Marciano decided to try out for the Chicago Cubs baseball team. “His success in the ring made him a camp celebrity of sorts (at Fort Lewis), but his enthusiasm for boxing as a potential career remained tepid,” Sullivan wrote. He made a full effort after returning to his hometown of Brockton, Mass. While working at a gas station, Marciano went back to amateur boxing and won several titles in the northeast, including the New England AAU Heavyweight Championship in 1948 with a broken thumb. After recovering from the injury, he decided to go pro and is still the only heavyweight champion ever to retire undefeated at 49-0.
In keeping with the spirit of their service, we have partnered with our friends Jay Glazer and Nate Boyer at MVP (Merging Vets and Players). In addition to normal royalties going to the estates of our featured Icons, we will be matching the royalty proceeds and donating them to MVP.
MVP empowers combat veterans and former professional athletes by connecting them after the uniform comes off; providing them with a new team to assist with the transition, promote personal development, and show them they are never alone.
Officially licensed by Rocky Marciano.
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