Rocky Graziano

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Rocky Graziano
Rocky Graziano.jpg
Statistics
Real nameThomas Rocco Barbella
Nickname(s)The Rock / Rocky / Rocky Bob / Thomas Rocky Graziano / Roco / Painter Rock
Rated atMiddleweight & Welterweight
Height5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Reach68 12 in (174 cm)
NationalityAmerican
Born(1919-01-01)January 1, 1919
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedMay 22, 1990(1990-05-22) (aged 71)
New York City
StanceOrthodox
Boxing record
Wins67
Wins by KO52
Losses10
Draws6
No contests0
 
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Rocky Graziano
Rocky Graziano.jpg
Statistics
Real nameThomas Rocco Barbella
Nickname(s)The Rock / Rocky / Rocky Bob / Thomas Rocky Graziano / Roco / Painter Rock
Rated atMiddleweight & Welterweight
Height5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Reach68 12 in (174 cm)
NationalityAmerican
Born(1919-01-01)January 1, 1919
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedMay 22, 1990(1990-05-22) (aged 71)
New York City
StanceOrthodox
Boxing record
Wins67
Wins by KO52
Losses10
Draws6
No contests0

Thomas Rocco Barbella (January 1, 1919[1] — May 22, 1990), better known as Rocky Graziano, was an American boxer. Graziano was considered one of the greatest knockout artists in boxing history, often displaying the capacity to take his opponent out with a single punch. He was ranked 23rd on The Ring magazine list of the greatest punchers of all time. His life story was the basis of the 1956 Oscar-winning drama film, Somebody Up There Likes Me, based on his 1955 autobiography of the same title.

Early life[edit]

Rocky Graziano was the son of "Fighting Nick Bob", a boxer with a brief fighting record. Born in Brooklyn, he later moved to Little Italy in New York's Lower East Side. Graziano grew up as a street fighter and learned to look after himself before he could read or write. He spent years in reform school, jail, and Catholic protectories.[2] His father, who got occasional work as a longshoreman, kept boxing gloves around the house and encouraged Graziano and his brothers to fight one another. When Graziano was as young as three years of age, his father would make him and his brother Joe (three year's Rocky's senior) fight almost every night in boxing gloves. At age 18 he won the Metropolitan A.A.U. welterweight championship. Despite the fame and money that professional fighting seemed to offer, he didn't want to become a serious prize fighter. He didn't like the discipline of training any more than he liked the discipline of school or the Army. [3]

Amateur career[edit]

Graziano heard from a couple of his friends about a tournament going on with a gold medal for the winner. Rocky entered under the name of Joe Giuliani. He fought four matches and ended up winning the New York Metropolitan Amateur Athletic Union Boxing competition (1939). He sold the gold medal for $15 and decided that boxing was a good way to make cash.[4]

A couple of weeks into amateur fighting, he was picked up for stealing from a school. He went to Coxsackie Correctional Facility, where he spent three weeks, with boyhood friend Jake LaMotta, and then he went on to the New York City Reformatory where he spent five months. After Rocky got out of the Reformatory, he headed back to the gym to make money, where he met Eddie Cocco, who started his professional career. He entered the ring under the name Robert Barber. A couple of weeks later Rocky was charged with a probation violation and sent back to reform school, where he was charged for starting a minor[clarification needed] riot and sent to Rikers Island.[citation needed]

When he got out of jail he enlisted in the military but went AWOL after punching a captain. He escaped from Fort Dix in New Jersey and started his real boxing career under the name of "Rocky Graziano". He won his first couple of bouts. After gaining popularity under the name of Graziano, he was found by the military. After Graziano's fourth bout, he was called into manager's office to speak with a couple of military personnel. Expecting to be prosecuted and sent back to the military or jail, Graziano fled. He returned to the military a week later. He turned himself in, but he was pardoned and given the opportunity to fight under the army's aegis.[4]

Professional career[edit]

As he grew older, Rocky was scouted and seeing no other way to raise his standard of living, he signed a few boxing contracts. But the rigors of training disgusted him and he and his early managers went their separate ways. He wound up with Irving Cohen, who had the sense to give him a long leash. Cohen changed Rocky's name from Barbella to Graziano (his grandfather's surname) and lined up a fight. Refusing to train much, Graziano nevertheless showed his killer instinct and won by a knockout. Other fights were lined up with Cohen trying, in his subtle way, to overmatch Rocky, get him defeated, and thereby show Rocky the value of getting into condition. He even demanded a match against Sugar Ray Robinson.[5]

In March 1945, at Madison Square Garden, Graziano scored a major upset over Billy Arnold, whose style was similar to that of Sugar Ray Robinson; he was a slick boxer with lightning-fast combinations and a knockout punch. The Ring Magazine and various newspapers across the United States touted Arnold as the next Joe Louis or Sugar Ray Robinson. Arnold was a heavy favorite to defeat Graziano, and then to go on to fight for the world title, but Graziano absorbed a beating in the early going, before going on to batter and knock out Arnold in the third round of the scheduled eight-round bout.[6] Following his defeat to Graziano, Billy Arnold was never the same. Graziano became World Boxing Champion, fighting Tony Zale in one of boxing's most storied rivalries. He later fought Sugar Ray Robinson, losing by early knockout in three rounds.[citation needed]

He is most famous for his three title bouts with Tony Zale, all for the middleweight title. In their first match (September 27, 1946), after flooring Graziano in the first round, Zale took a savage beating from Graziano, and was on the verge of losing the fight by TKO. However, he rallied and knocked out Graziano in the sixth round to retain his title. The rematch, a year later in Chicago (July 16, 1947), was a mirror image of their first fight. The referee almost stopped the second fight in the third round because of a severe cut over Graziano's left eye, which would have awarded the victory to Zale, but Graziano's cutman, Morris ("Whitey") Bimstein, was able to stop the bleeding to let the fight continue. Graziano was battered around the ring, suffered a closed eye and appeared ready to lose by a knockout, then rallied and knocked Zale out in the sixth round, becoming middleweight champion of the world.[4] Their last fight was held in New Jersey the following year (June 10, 1948). Zale regained his crown, winning the match by a knockout in the third round. The knockout blows consisted of a perfect combination of a right to Graziano's body, then a left hook to Graziano's jaw. Graziano was knocked unconscious. His last attempt at the middleweight title came in April 1952, when Sugar Ray Robinson knocked him out in three rounds. He retired after losing his very next fight, a 10-round decision to Chuck Davey.[4]

Career trouble[edit]

In 1946, Graziano was suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) for failure to report an alleged bribe attempt. In 1948, Abe Green, then-National Boxing Association's President, announced that they were indefinitely suspending Graziano in all parts of the world under NBA supervision, following similar action by the California State Athletic Commission. This was due to Graziano's "running out" on a scheduled December 1 bout with Fred Apostoli. The suspension covered all of the American States, Great Britain, the European Boxing Federation, Cuba, Mexico, and Canada. Boxing promoter Ralph Tribuani got Graziano a license to box in Delaware, which led to the reinstatement of Graziano by both the NBA and NYSAC and Rocky's return to prosperity.[citation needed]

Post-boxing career[edit]

After his retirement from boxing, he co-hosted a short-lived series, The Henny and Rocky Show with famous comedian Henny Youngman. He was a semi-regular on The Martha Raye Show, as Raye's boyfriend.[7] He appeared as a regular on the United Artists TV series Miami Undercover for its entire run, and appeared in several series and shows, including The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, Car 54, Where Are You?, and Naked City. He portrayed Packy, an ex-boxer, in the 1967 film Tony Rome.[citation needed]

In the 1960s, Graziano opened a pizza restaurant, Rocky Graziano's Pizza Ring, on Second Avenue in Kips Bay, Manhattan, creating a modest franchise for the restaurant in the New York City area.[citation needed] He became the celebrity spokesman for Lee Myles Transmissions in the New York City area, appearing on dozens of television commercials from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Graziano married Norma Unger, of German-Jewish descent, on August 10, 1943. They remained together until his death from cardiopulmonary failure on May 22, 1990 in New York City at age 71. The couple had two children. Graziano's funeral Mass was held at St. Patrick's Cathedral.[8]

Other[edit]

Accolades[edit]

Professional boxing record[edit]

67 Wins (52 knockouts), 10 Losses (3 knockouts), 6 draws[9]
Res.RecordOpponentTypeRound
Time
DateLocationNotes
Loss67–10–6United States Chuck DaveyUD101952–09–17United States Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois
Loss67–9–6United States Sugar Ray RobinsonKO3 (15)
1:53
1952–04–16United States Chicago Stadium, Chicago, IllinoisFor World Middleweight title.
Win67–8–6Canada Roy WoutersTKO1 (10)
2:45
1952–03–27United States Minneapolis Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Win66–8–6United States Eddie O'NeillTKO4 (10)
2:21
1952–02–18United States Jefferson County Armory, Louisville, Kentucky
Win65–8–6United States Tony JaniroTKO10
2:45
1951–09–19United States Olympia Stadium, Detroit, Michigan
Win64–8–6United States Chuck HunterDQ2 (10)1951–08–06United States Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City, Missouri
Win63–8–6United States Cecil HudsonTKO3 (10)1951–07–10United States Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City, Missouri
Win62–8–6United States Freddie LottKO5 (10)
2:17
1951–06–18United States Baltimore Coliseum, Baltimore, Maryland
Win61–8–6Canada Johnny GrecoKO3 (10)
1:56
1951–05–21Canada Montreal Forum, Montreal, Quebec
Win60–8–6United States Reuben JonesKO3 (10)
1:18
1951–03–19United States Miami Stadium, Miami, Florida
Win59–8–6United States Honeychile JohnsonKO4 (10)
0:48
1950–11–27United States Philadelphia Convention Hall,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Win58–8–6United States Tony JaniroUD101950–10–27United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win57–8–6United States Pete MeadKO3 (10)
2:25
1950–10–16United States Milwaukee Arena, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Win56–8–6United States Gene BurtonKO7 (10)
2:10
1950–10–04United States Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois
Win55–8–6United States Henry BrimmKO4 (10)
2:14
1950–05–16United States Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, New York
Win54–8–6United States Vinnie CidoneTKO3 (10)1950–05–09United States Milwaukee Arena, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Win53–8–6United States Danny WilliamsKO3 (10)
1:03
1950–04–24United States New Haven Arena, New Haven, Connecticut
Draw52–8–6United States Tony JaniroSD101950–03–31United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win52–8–5United States Joe CurcioKO1 (10)
2:21
1950–03–06United States Miami Stadium, Miami, Florida
Win51–8–5United States Sonny HorneMD101949–12–06United States Cleveland Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Win50–8–5United States Charley FusariTKO101949–09–14United States Polo Grounds, New York City, New York
Win49–8–5United States Joe AgostaKO2 (10)
2:19
1949–07–18United States Century Stadium, West Springfield, Massachusetts
Win48–8–5United States Bobby ClausKO2 (10)
0:46
1949–06–21United States Wilmington Park, Wilmington, Delaware
Loss47–8–5United States Tony ZaleKO3 (15)1948–06–10United States Ruppert Stadium, Newark, New JerseyLost NBA
World Middleweight title
Win47–7–5United States Sonny HorneUD101948–04–05United States Uline Arena, Washington, D.C.
Win46–7–5United States Tony ZaleTKO6 (15)1947–07–16United States Chicago Stadium, Chicago, IllinoisWon NBA
World Middleweight title
The Ring Fight of the Year
Win45–7–5United States Jerry FiorelloTKO5 (10)1947–06–16United States Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio
Win44–7–5United States Eddie FinazzoTKO1 (10)1947–06–10
2:14
United States Fairgrounds Arena, Memphis, Tennessee
Loss43–7–5United States Tony ZaleKO6 (15)1946–09–27United States Yankee Stadium, New York City, New YorkFor NYSAC and NBA
World Middleweight titles
The Ring Fight of the Year
Win43–6–5United States Marty ServoTKO2 (10)
1:52
1946–03–29United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win42–6–5United States Sonny HorneUD101946–01–18United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win41–6–5United States Harold GreenKO3 (10)
1:49
1945–09–28United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win40–6–5United States Freddie CochraneKO10
2:37
1945–08–24United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win39–6–5United States Freddie CochraneKO10
0:16
1945–06–29United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New YorkThe Ring Fight of the Year
Win38–6–5United States Al DavisTKO4 (10)1945–05–25United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win37–6–5United States Solomon StewartTKO4 (10)1945–04–17United States Uline Arena, Washington, D.C.
Win36–6–5United States Billy ArnoldTKO3 (8)1945–03–09United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Loss35–6–5United States Harold GreenMD101944–12–22United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Loss35–5–5United States Harold GreenUD101944–11–03United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win35–4–5United States Bernie MillerTKO2 (8)
0:44
1944–10–24United States Broadway Arena, Brooklyn, New York
Draw34–4–5United States Danny KapilowPTS101944–10–06United States St. Nicholas Arena, New York City, New York
Draw34–4–4United States Frankie TerryPTS81944–09–15United States St. Nicholas Arena, New York City, New York
Win34–4–3United States Jerry FiorelloSD81944–08–14United States Queensboro Arena, Queens, New York
Win33–4–3United States Tony RenoPTS81944–07–21United States Fort Hamilton Arena, Brooklyn, New York
Win32–4–3United States Frankie TerryTKO6 (8)
2:47
1944–06–27United States Dexter Park Arena, Queens, New York
Win31–4–3United States Larney MooreKO2 (8)1944–06–07United States MacArthur Stadium, Brooklyn, New York
Win30–4–3United States Tommy MollisTKO7 (10)1944–05–29United States Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C.
Win29–4–3United States Freddie GrahamKO3 (8)1944–05–09United States Turner's Arena, Washington, D.C.
Win28–4–3United States Bobby BrownKO5 (10)1944–04–10United States Turner's Arena, Washington, D.C.
Win27–4–3United States Ray RovelliPTS81944–03–14United States Broadway Arena, Brooklyn, New York
Win26–4–3United States Harold GaryPTS61944–03–08United States Scott Hall, Elizabeth, New Jersey
Win25–4–3United States Leon AnthonyKO1 (8)
1:20
1944–03–04United States Ridgewood Grove, Brooklyn, New York
Win24–4–3Puerto Rico Nick CalderKO4 (8)1944–02–24United States Masonic Hall, Highland Park, New Jersey
Loss23–4–3United States Steve RiggioPTS61944–02–09United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win23–3–3United States Phil EnzengaTKO5 (8)1944–01–18United States Westchester County Center, White Plains, New York
Win22–3–3United States Jerry PittroTKO1 (6)
2:31
1944–01–07United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win21–3–3United States Harold GaryPTS81944–01–04United States Grotto Auditorium, Jersey City, New Jersey
Win20–3–3Romania Milo TheodorescuTKO1 (8)
2:52
1943–12–27United States Laurel Garden, Newark, New Jersey
Win19–3–3United States Freddie GrahamPTS61943–12–06United States St. Nicholas Arena, New York City, New York
Win18–3–3United States Freddie GrahamPTS81943–11–30United States Paterson, New Jersey
Loss17–3–3United States Steve RiggioPTS61943–11–12United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Draw17–2–3United States Charley McPhersonPTS61943–10–27United States Scott Hall, Elizabeth, New Jersey
Win17–2–2United States Jimmy WilliamsTKO2 (6)1943–10–13United States Scott Hall, Elizabeth, New Jersey
Win16–2–2United States Freddie GrahamKO1 (8)
1:02
1943–10–05United States Broadway Arena, Brooklyn, New York
Win15–2–2United States George WilsonPTS81943–09–21United States Broadway Arena, Brooklyn, New York
Loss14–2–2United States Joe AgostaPTS61943–09–10United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win14–1–2United States Tony GreyPTS61943–08–24United States Queensboro Arena, Queens, New York
Win13–1–2United States Ted ApostoliPTS41943–08–20United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win12–1–2United States Charley McPhersonPTS61943–08–12United States Fort Hamilton Arena, Brooklyn, New York
Win11–1–2United States Randy DrewKO1 (6)
2:16
1943–07–27United States Queensboro Arena, Queens, New York
Win10–1–2United States George StevensKO1 (6)1943–07–22United States Fort Hamilton Arena, Brooklyn, New York
Win9–1–2United States Johnny AtteleyTKO2 (6)1943–07–08United States Fort Hamilton Arena, Brooklyn, New York
Win8–1–2United States Frankie FalcoKO5 (6)
1:37
1943–06–24United States Fort Hamilton Arena, Brooklyn, New York
Win7–1–2United States Joe CurcioTKO4 (6)
0:39
1943–06–16United States Twin City Bowl, Elizabeth, New Jersey
Win6–1–2Peru Gilberto VasquezKO1 (6)
1:45
1943–06–11United States Fort Hamilton Arena, Brooklyn, New York
Draw5–1–2United States Lou MillerPTS61942–05–25United States St. Nicholas Arena, New York City, New York
Win5–1–1United States Godfrey HowellKO41942–05–12United States Broadway Arena, Brooklyn, New York
Win4–1–1United States Eddie LeeKO41942–05–04United States St. Nicholas Arena, New York City, New York
Loss3–1–1United States Charles FergusonPTS61942–04–28United States Broadway Arena, Brooklyn, New York
Draw3–0–1United States Godfrey HowellPTS41942–04–20United States St. Nicholas Arena, New York City, New York
Win3–0United States Kenny BlackmarKO1 (4)1942–04–14United States Broadway Arena, Brooklyn, New York
Win2–0United States Mike MastandreaKO3 (4)1942–04–06United States St. Nicholas Arena, New York City, New York
Win1–0United States Curtis HightowerTKO2 (4)1942–03–31United States Broadway Arena, Brooklyn, New York

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Alternative birth dates have been cited; however his gravestone states January 1, 1919 and his widow confirmed that this as the correct date
  2. ^ Graziano, Rocky; Barber, Rowland (1955). Somebody Up There Likes Me. New York: Simon And Schuster. 
  3. ^ Lardner, Rex. "The Improbable Graziano". Sport Magazine Article. SPORT. Retrieved December 5, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d Berger, Phil (May 23, 1990). "Rocky Graziano, Ex-Ring Champion, Dead at 71". New York Times. 
  5. ^ Lardner, Rex. "The Improbable Graziano". SPORT Magazine Article. SPORT. Retrieved December 5, 2011. [dead link]
  6. ^ Google info re Graziano
  7. ^ Adams, Val (November 29, 1953). "Rocky Graziano: TV Actor and Ex-Fighter". The New York Times. p. X11. Retrieved February 8, 2011. 
  8. ^ SPORTS OF THE TIMES; Leave Your Worry on The Doorstep, New York Times, May 26, 1990.
  9. ^ "Rocky Graziano Professional boxing record". BoxRec.com. 

External links[edit]

Achievements
Preceded by
Tony Zale
World Middleweight Champion
July 16, 1947– June 10, 1948
Succeeded by
Tony Zale