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OTD (1969): Legendary MA/RI boxer Rocky Marciano dies in plane crash

One of the best boxers of all time had his life tragically cut too soon. PIC: Getty Images

"Who is the best boxer ever?" Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather, Sugar Ray Leonard, George Foreman, and Manny Pacquiao are all names that come to mind when prompted the question.

But let's talk about Rocky Marciano - who, 53 years ago today, lost his life in a plane crash at the ripe age of 45.

Marciano - known as the "Brockton Blockbuster" - was destined for greatness since his days as a kid in Brockton, Massachusetts. He nearly died from pneumonia when he was just 18 months old, but fought it off; a true omen of what to come.

Marciano's early life was filled with different experiences. He stuffed a mailbag, hung it from a tree branch in his backyard, and used it as a punching bag. His blue collar background of being a ditch digger and shoe maker taught him perseverance and hard work. And in the US Army, he helped transport supplies over the English Channel in the thick of World War 2.

When Marciano was discharged, he came back to the US and tried out for a Chicago Cubs minor league team in North Carolina. After three weeks, he was cut - just enough of a prompt to take his professional boxing career to the next level.

To summarize a very successful career, there can only be one word: dominant. Marciano went 49-0, with a whopping 43 knockouts and only six bouts going to a decision. 28 of his fights went down at the Auditorium in Providence, a now-defunct venue on the northern border of the city with Pawtucket.

Marciano knocked out Jersey Joe Walcott twice. He knocked out Harry Matthews - who only lost 7 times in nearly 100 bouts - at Yankee Stadium. He TKO'ed Bill Wilson in just over a minute in their 1950 fight in Providence.

Marciano was the World Heavyweight Champ from 1952 until his retirement in '56. To this day, he's the only uncontested heavyweight to have retired undefeated.

A plane crash took him far too soon, just over thirteen years after his retirement from boxing. But even in 2022, Marciano's legacy lives on - in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.


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