Instead of going to school he would skip out and run around the city, stealing food, items, and money. Usually he would hide in the shadows of stoops, or door ways around the areas of Italian Bakeries. When the kids came out with their Italian Bread dipped in Olive Oil he would punch them in the mouth steal their bread, and then send them home crying to their mothers. He often found himself in Children's Court with his mother by his side always bailing him out of trouble.
At the age of eight Rocco went to live with his grandmother and grandfather on Second Avenue near Houston Street. There Rocky Bob Barbella met his first friend, Houdini.(Houdini A.K.A. Sam Villa, got his name for "disappears when work or trouble around.")Houdini being Rocky's first friend also became his second hand man to everything. Houdini introduced Rocky to the pool hall among other new games on the East Side such as Stick Ball, Football, and hand ball. Around this time Rocky saw kids on the street riding scooters, went up to a kid and told him to give him the scooter, the other kid denied him. Rocky enraged went a couple blocks up found another kid, punched him in the face, and came back down to where the other kids were. He sped down the street and devised inside his head to do a cool spinning stop, but before he was able to finish the stop he was hit by a car which broke his leg and sent him to the hospital for two months.
When Rocky gets out of jail, him and Houdini start robbing gum machines in the subways of New York as their making their round trip one day Rocky forgets to check a utility closet and they're caught stealing from the machine when a detective bursts out of the door. Rocky is sent to Children's court and is sentenced to probation.
One morning he wakes up early one morning and steals fifty cent's from his grandfather. When he comes home later that day his grandfather knows he stole the money. As his grandfather advances on Rocky with a shaving block, Rocky jumps out the window and runs down the fire escape, then continues to run to Brooklyn to his old house. There he tells his father what had happened and is beaten anyway since he didn't let his grandfather do it. He spends the next couple days at his old house. He see's his brother playing in the street one day and goes to steal his brother a bicycle. He returns with a bicycle and gives it to his brother, his brother rides up towards the Jew Town. As his brother rides away he forgets to remind him that the bike was stolen from that part of town. About three hours later a cop goes to Rocky's house and announces that Joe is being held at the police station on a count of theft of a bike. Rocky run's over to the station and confesses to the stealing of the bike. But his confession did nothing as his brother already ratted on him.
Rocky attends a court meeting and his old record of not going to school and probation records catch up with him. He is sent to a Catholic Protectory. There he will spend three terms, one as a child at age 11, age 14, and age 16.Graziano, Rocky; Rowland Barber (1955). Some Body Up There Likes Me. New York: Simon And Schuster..
After Rocky gets out of the Reformatory he heads back to the gym to make money, there he meets Eddie Cocco who starts his professional career. He enters the ring under the name of Robert Barber, a couple weeks down the road when he's making good money he lends out a car and his friends Rob a couple of bookies and shoot them in the chest. Rocky is charged with probation violation and sent back to Reform School. There he starts a minor riot between the "East Side Gang," and the "Blacks." He is sent to Rikers. When Rocky get's out of jail he is approached by the military and told he has to join. Rocky goes A.W.O.L in the Military by punching a Lieutenant. He escapes from Fort Dix in New Jersey and starts his real boxing career under the name of "Rocky Graziano."
In his retirement, Graziano dabbled in painting and developed an admiration for the work of Pablo Picasso.
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