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Rocky Marciano: The Brockton Blockbuster By John Jarrett

Release date: 01st July, 2018
Publisher: Pitch Publishing

List Price: 18.99
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Anthony Joshua aside, when compared with some of the overweight, pedestrian boxers who have populated the British heavyweight boxing scene over the past decade, Rocky Marciano wasn’t just on a different level, he was participating in a different sport.

Marciano’s raw material did not, at first glance, appear too promising. At a shade over 5’10”, he was deemed too small for a heavyweight, while his 67” reach was amongst the shortest in the professional division. But when he got into the ring, his ‘Brockton Blockbuster’ nickname was wholly appropriate.

Between March 1947 and September 1955, Marciano fought 49 times, winning every bout, 43 of them by knockout. It remains a quite staggering record during a period when professional boxing was considerably rougher than it is today. Marciano took plenty of punishment, his nose often resembling a squashed tomato following a fight, but he always managed to dish out more to his opponent and emerge victorious.

But do we need another biography of one of boxing’s true greats?

Author John Jarrett has been writing for Boxing News since 1951 and clearly knows his stuff. He successfully captures the prevailing mood by quoting from contemporary newspaper reports, magazines and other biographies, peppering this with his own, experienced narrative. If the book has a fault (actually, there are probably two), it’s that Jarrett didn’t compile a bibliography, nor has he included a statistical record of Marciano’s fights. The absence of the latter is important as few readers will appreciate how dominant Marciano was, although it’s instantly checkable on Google.

Though he was seemingly impervious to pain, Marciano wasn’t a nasty man, yet he regularly pummelled opponents, belting several of them out of the ring; it’s fair to say that today, a number of his fights would have been stopped before his victims incurred any additional punishment.

Next week marks the 49th anniversary of Marciano’s death. He died in a plane crash on 31st August 1969 on the eve of his 46th birthday. Students of boxing history will enjoy this comparatively slim biography; anyone interested in the sport should read it to appreciate the stark contrast between what passes for heavyweight boxing today and how it was when the sport was at its peak.

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