Above: Cover of the 2nd edition of the first volume of the biography on Marciano (released soon).
"This is not a project that is being pieced together to appease those who venerate the very name. It is not a myth making exercise, a piece of diluted, or in extreme contrast, sensationalized storytelling. It is simply telling of a life and we all know, if we are brutally honest with ourselves, that the reality of our own lives is full of facets, some sparkling and others less than divine."
John Cameron (July 2012)
Proposal/Synopsis & Chapter List.
Hopfully the following will give you, the reader, some idea as to how the book will be laid out and the information included (valid as off July 2010):
The subject of my work has been, I unashamedly admit, a hero of mine since I was a child. Over the years I have collected the biographies (The Rocky Marciano Story, Bob Cutter, 1954. Rocky Marciano, Harold Mayes, 1955. This Guy Marciano, Wilfred Diamond, 1956. The Story of a Champion, Bill Libby, 1971. Biography of a First Son, Everett M. Skeehan, 1977 - later re-released as Undefeated in 2005. The 13th Candle, Michael N. Varveris, 2000, and The Rock of his Times, Russell Sullivan, 2002), read the archive articles, watched the videos, etc, etc, but what has always irked me is the lack of depth in these works. Many, if not all of the extant biographical sources merely skim over Rocky’s pivotal days in the service of his country, his amateur career, his early days in the professional ring. They seemed concerned only with his big fights and his title years, forgetting that the man was forged outside the ring as well as in.
I had initially been fortunate in my endeavors to make contact with, amongst others, Peter Marciano, youngest brother of Rocky who was excited about the proposed work, he gave his consent to the project and was willing to answer any questions I had, since this time however he has distanced himself from the project for he is not comfortable with the direction that the work is going in, still he has been magnanimous enough to offer his best wishes. Also, amongst others, Tania Grossinger, author of growing up at Grossingers, the former Catskill Mountains retreat where Marciano would train for many of his most important fights. Ms. Grossinger has been a constant source of guidance and has offered to compose a blurb once the project is completed, truly a remarkable lady, and not forgetting Rocky Marchegiano jr, the son of the hero of the biography, who is visibly backing the project.
Rocky Marciano was, for the uninitiated, the former world heavyweight boxing champion from 1952 until his retirement in 1956 when he left the sport as the first professional to retire and say retired with out a blemish on his record. In forty-nine bouts he was victorious in all, only six times did he go the full route, a remarkable feat in itself, however what is even more astonishing in regards to his record are the seemingly impossible odds he had to overcome in order to walk away unbeaten.
Firstly he was considered both too small and light to succeed in the heavyweight ranks, even for his own era, against him also was his age, being nearly twenty five when he pursued his professional career with abandon in 1948. Added to these handicaps were his fragile hands, hands that stopped no less than forty-three of his opponents, he suffered from a slipped disc in his back which kept him in constant pain, plus his left elbow was arthritic which hampered his ability to straighten the arm. Even more astonishing was the plain fact that Marciano admittedly was no expert in the scientific art of self defense, his style, if that was the right word, was one of simply bulldozing in and throwing punches, however he was blessed with incredible tenacity, an iron will which refused to accept his limitations ("Never did one achieve so much with so little," Anon), plus he trained with an almost Spartan attitude, indeed he would often compare himself as such.
His is a lesson to all who have the desire to achieve in their chosen field regardless of those who would tell them that they have no chance, thus it is a life which deserves to be shared, not just for those in sports but for in all walks of life, truly in this regard he transcends boxing. (It seems I am not alone in this concern as a film of his life entitled; Undefeated, is in pre-production as I write)
The manuscript is far from finished at this stage, I have neither the finances, nor opportunity to be able to fully realize my research goals at this time, however, through the sources I have at my disposal I have managed to complete the first thirty chapters almost to my satisfaction, which follows his life from birth through to his first tentative steps into the fight game...
The work itself is broken down at this stage into three distinct volumes, each comprising individual parts: (Initially envisioned as one volume but changed due to interest from an American ebook publisher who made the suggestion that I break the work down into three seperate volumes, as the project evolves however this may yet morph back into one complete volume)
Volume One - Preliminaries:
Forward by Angelo Dundee:
Introduction by John Cameron: Part One: Chronicling Marciano’s birth in 1923, his battle against pneumonia at the age of eighteen months when he should have died, before moving on to follow his youth and early forays into a fascination with sport which would eventually lead to his interest, although tentatively at the time, in boxing. Here we see him portrayed as a mischievous young man who, along with his family, struggled to make ends meet in a post-recession America, having to sacrifice in order to assist his family. It is in these years that the seed is sown for his later fixation with money, both the means of earning it, and more importantly, of keeping it.
Part Two: Following Marciano through his service years for the United States Armed Service from 1943 until his discharge in 1946, we are especially interested here in the formative stages of Marciano’s boxing career, for it was whilst serving for his country in Wales and The United States that he first began to take part in organized bouts. We then move forward through his lost year of 1947 where he participated in his first official professional bout and chased his childhood dream of Baseball stardom but was denied by a poor throwing arm. Finally moving through in some detail to his brief, but sensational amateur career where he won the Massachusetts, and then the New England, Golden Gloves, in Lowell. We also cover here his controversial bout with Coley Wallace in New York in which he was denied victory by the judges, then move forward to his break with his then manager Gene Caggiano and approach through his friend, Allie Colombo to Al Weill who would guide him later to the heavyweight title.
Part Three: Traces his first tentative steps into the professional ring under the guidance of Al Weill and trainer Charley Goldman, here we are introduced to the concept that Rocky Marciano could not box, yet had heart, and showed a willingness to commit to a future that was in reality his last hope of making an honest living. In this section his fragile hands are exposed as a weakness, plus we see how he was at times crippled with his slipped disc, and yet continually he persevered. We witness too his change of name from the original Rocco Marchegiano to Rocky Marciano. The section ends with Marciano’s defeat of the hard hitting Carmine Vingo which nearly ended in tragedy and left Marciano on the verge of walking away from the sport.
Afterward by Phil Guarnieri:
Volume two and three will include the following We will see Marciano enter the national consciousness both after his victory over Vingo, and his defeat of the formerly unbeaten Roland LaStarza, we follow closely as he at first moves up the professional ladder, only to be slowed down by machinations beyond his control. We explore the corrupt elements that were pervasive in boxing at this time and how they openly, or otherwise, influenced Marciano’s career. Here the reader is taken through Marciano’s perfect fight against Rex Layne, and his defeat of the legendary Joe Louis which propelled him into contention. Finally we follow Rocky into the ring against Jersey Joe Walcott on the 23rd September 1952 as he attempts to wrest the heavyweight championship of the world from the champion in what many still consider to this day one of the greatest title fights in history.
The story then will follow the now champion, both out of the ring and in, through the six successful defenses of his beloved crown, witnessing how euphoria turns to disillusionment as he comes to terms with what he has achieved. We see Marciano’s defining bouts where he was bleeding, battered, on the edge of defeat yet found a way to win.
Later dealing with Marciano’s shock retirement in 1956 and the reasons behind it, then follows his enigmatic and often turbulent years in which he wandered across the globe in his final years becoming nostalgic as he searched for something that he never seemed to find, here we try to piece together the often fragile persona of the man as he shed the aura of the heavyweight championship and revealed himself in private moments as the complete person that he was. The piece ends with his tragic death on the eve of his forty-sixth birthday in a private plane crash.
Epilogue: In which an attempt is made to round out the book by chronicling in detail the story of the computerized bout between champion Marciano and challenger Muhammad Ali, the bout, which was staged before camera’s and released to selected theatres shortly after Marciano’s death, brought both men closer together in a mutual respect that Ali carried on after the death of a man he considered his friend. When the film was eventually released in 1970 Rocky was again victorious.
Chapters: Volume One. (The following are chapters completed in their initial draft and still in need of amending and polishing)
Forward: A brief endorsement by Angelo Dundee.
Introduction: An introduction to the following project, exploring the impact and legend of the man.
Part One: The Miracle of Youth - September 1923 - December 1942
chapter one: Heritage - A brief background regarding the parents of Rocky Marciano, their backstory, meeting, marriage. chapter two: Hail to the Champ - The birth of Marciano and first traumatic eighteen months of his lfe in which he fought against pnuemonia. chapter three: Childhood - Following Marciano from a toddler through to adolescence, his fascination with baseball, childhood fights, friendships forged. chapter four: King of the Hill - Chronicling Rocky's scrap with Julie Durham and sparring session with a professional boxer which nearly put young Rocky off fighting. chapter five: Earth, Wind and Fire - The last years of Marciano's youth through to adulthood where life seemed to offer little as he gave up school to seek employment.
Part Two: The Lost Years - January 1943 - March 1948
chapter one: Private Marchegiano, Rocco F./ 31-301-298 - Marciano's induction into the US Army and first two years in the service of his country. chapter two: The Smoker - focusing on Marciano's darkest hour in the ring when home on leave against Henry Lester. chapter three: Goodbye Uncle Sam - The final year of Rocco's military service and fighting amateur for Fort Lewis, Washington. chapter four: Barbara and Rocky Mack - The meeting with his future wife and the first official professional bout. chapter five: The Dream that Died - After his demob from the Army we follow his chase for baseball glory. chapter six: Crossroads - With his baseball dream in shatters, Rocky, along with his friend Allie Colombo takes his first steps into serious boxing. chapter seven: Lowell - Tracing Rocky's sensational impact on the New England Golden Gloves held in Lowell, Mass. chapter eight: Brooklyn - Marciano's almost legendary amateur bout against Coley Wallace. chapter nine: Goodbye Gene - Breaking away from his amateur manager and initial approach to Al Weill.
Part Three: Providence - June 1948 - December 1949
chapter one: Enter 'The Vest' - Al Weill's background. chapter two: And Charley too - Charley Goldman's background and Rocky's audition before the two men who would take him to the championship of the world. chapter three: The Offer - Weill offers to manage Marciano, but it is not how Rocky dreamed so he seeks other avenues, when these fall through he returns to Weill. chapter four: The Birth of a Fighter - Goldman, Marciano's trainer, begins to sculpt a fighter. chapter five: First Steps - Bouts with Harry Bilzarian and John Edwards. chapter six: The Tank Job - Marciano's bout with Bobby Quinn which very few thought Rocky could win. chapter seven: Deliverance - A pivotal fight against highly regarded Eddie Ross. chapter eight: Three Gone Quick - Bouts against Jimmy Weeks, Humphrey Jackson and Bill Hardeman. chapter nine: Marciano - Rocky's change of name from Marchegiano to Marciano and bout with Gilbert Cardoine. chapter ten: The Contract - Bout with Bob Jefferson and first formal contract with Weill. chapter eleven: The House of Sin - Marciano finds new lodging in New York. chapter twelve: The Fight That Nearly Never Was - A car crash almost puts paid to bout with Patrick Connoly. chapter thirteen: One Step Forward... - Marciano appears on undercard of Joe Louis exhibition against Gilley Ferron. chapter fourteen: ...and One Step Back - The press lambast Rocky, plus a broken knuckle keeps him away from the ring for weeks. chapter fifteen: Reflections (part one) - A look back on Marciano's first few months as a professional. chapter sixteen: Requiem for a Heavyweight - An indepth look at Marciano opponent Johnny Pretzie .chapter seventeen: Artie and the Jimmy Boys - Marciano goes up against Artie Donato, Jimmy Walls and Jimmy Evans chapter eighteen: "Uncle Mike" - A look at Mike Jacobs and the powerful Twentieth-Century Sporting Club that had ruled boxing but was now in decline. chapter nineteen: Mr. Gray - Profiling the ganster and underworld boxing czar Frankie Carbo. chapter twenty: The Golden Boy and Octous Inc. - A look at the rise of Jim Norris and his International Boxing Club. chapter twenty-one: Family Ties - Weill's new role in IBC as matchmaker thus having to give up managing Marciano who he handed to his own step-son Marty. chapter twenty-two: The End of the Beginning - Now under Marty Weill's "control" Marciano goes the distance against Don Mogard. chapter twenty-three: Doubly Sure - The bouts with Harry Haft and Pete Louthis. chapter twenty-four: Tommy G. - Marciano versus Tommy Giorgio. chapter twenty-five: The Tiger - Ted Lowry's controversial defeat, perhaps the closest Rocky ever came to losing. chapter twenty-six: Breakthrough - The three fights that re-established Rocky after the near catastrophe against Lowry. chapter twenty-seven: Carmine - The almost tragic turning point in the career of Rocky Marciano against Carmine Vingo.