In March 1943, Marciano was drafted into the army for a term of two years. Stationed in Wales, he helped ferry supplies across the English Channel to Normandy. After the war ended he completed his service in March 1946 at Fort Lewis, Washington.
In late March, 1947, Marciano and a few of his friends traveled to Fayetteville, North Carolina, to try out for the Fayetteville Cubs, a farm team for the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Marciano lasted three weeks before being cut from the team. After failing to find a spot on another team, he returned to Brockton and began boxing training with longtime friend, Allie Colombo. Al Weill served as his manager and Charley Goldman as his trainer and teacher.
Early in his career, he changed the spelling of his last name. The ring announcer in Providence, Rhode Island could not pronounce Marchegiano, so Marciano's handler, Al Weill, suggested they create a pseudonym. The first suggestion was Rocky Mack, which Marciano rejected. He decided to go with the more Italian-sounding "Marciano".
Marciano won three more fights by knockout, and then he met Ted Lowry, who, according to many scribes and witnesses, probably managed to win three or four of the ten rounds from Marciano. Nevertheless, Marciano kept his winning streak alive by beating Lowry by decision. Marciano fought Lowry again in November 1950 and it too went the scheduled ten round distance. Four more knockout wins followed his first fight with Lowry, including a five rounder on December 19, 1949 with Phil Muscato, an experienced heavyweight from Buffalo, New York, and the first "name fighter" Marciano would oppose. Three weeks after that fight Rocky beat Carmine Vingo in a fifth round knockout in New York that almost killed Vingo. When Rocky next fought in late March 1950, he gained a hard-fought ten-round decision victory over the fighter who would later become his 1953 world title challenger Roland La Starza. The victory over La Starza was extremely close. Marciano won 6-4 on all scorecards.
Marciano won three more knockouts in a row before a rematch with Lowry. Marciano again won, by unanimous decision. After that, he won four more by knockout, and, after a decision win over Red Applegate late April 1951, he was showcased on national television for the first time, when he knocked out Rex Layne in six rounds on July 12 1951. One more win, and he was again on national TV, this time against Joe Louis. Marciano defeated Louis in what would be the latter's last career bout, a result that left him with mixed emotions as Louis had been the idol of his childhood.
Then came two consecutive bouts against former world heavyweight champion and light-heavyweight legend Ezzard Charles, who became the only man to ever last fifteen rounds against Marciano. Marciano won the first fight on points and the second by an eight-round knockout. Then, Marciano met British and European champion, Don Cockell. Marciano knocked him out in the ninth.
Marciano's last title bout was against Archie Moore on September 21, 1955. The bout was originally scheduled for September 20, but because of hurricane warnings it had to be moved to the 21st. Marciano was knocked down for a two count in the second round, but he got up and knocked out Moore in the 9th round. Moore was also knocked down in the 6th and 8th round but was saved by the bell.
After his retirement, Marciano hosted a weekly boxing show on TV for one year. For a brief period, he worked as a troubleshooting referee in wrestling (Marciano was a good wrestler in high school). He continued as a referee and boxing commentator in boxing matches for many years.
In late July 1969, shortly before his death, Marciano participated in the filming of the fantasy, The Superfight: Marciano vs. Ali. The two boxers were filmed sparring, then the film was edited to match a computer simulation of a hypothetical fight between them, each in their prime. The bout was aired on January 20, 1970. Marciano won by KO in 13.
He is interred in a crypt at Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His wife, who died five years after him at the age of 46, is entombed next to him. His father died in March 1972, his mother died in early January 1986.
Marciano holds the record for the longest undefeated streak by a heavyweight and for being the only World Heavyweight Champion to go undefeated throughout his career. This record was challenged by Larry Holmes in 1985 when Holmes went 48-0 before losing to Michael Spinks twice. Light heavyweight Dariusz Michalczewski also challenged Marciano when he was 48-0. Julio César Chávez holds the record for longest win streak with eighty-eight straight until he suffered a draw in 1993. Willie Pep, a featherweight, had a perfect 63-0 record before he was defeated. Packy McFarland was a lightweight (fighting between 1904-1915) who lost his first fight and then won his next 98, though he never won the lightweight title.
Throughout history, only a few boxers have retired without a defeat. Super middleweight Sven Ottke was 34-0 when he retired, while welterweight Floyd Mayweather, Jr. retired at 39-0. A few boxers have retired undefeated but did suffer draws. Ji Won Kim retired as an undefeated super bantamweight champion in 1986 with a 16-0-2 record, Ricardo Lopez retired in 2001 at 51-0-1, and middleweight Laszlo Papp was 28-0-2.
Marciano was knocked down to the canvas only twice in his professional career. The first occurred in his first championship bout, against Jersey Joe Walcott and the second occurred against Archie Moore. On both occasions, he rose to knock his opponent out.
Marciano's punch was tested and it was featured in the December 1963 issue of Boxing Illustrated: "Marciano's knockout blow packs more explosive energy than an armour-piercing bullet and represents as much energy as would be required to spot lift 1000 pounds one foot off the ground."
Marciano was named fighter of the year by Ring Magazine three times. His three championship fights between 1952-54 were named fights of the year by that magazine. In 2006, an ESPN poll voted Marciano's 1952 championship bout against Walcott as the greatest knockout ever. Marciano also received the Hickok Belt for top professional athlete of the year in 1952. In 1955, he was voted second most important American athlete of the year.
Marciano is a member of the International Boxing Hall Of Fame.
A bronze statue of Marciano is planned for 2009 in his hometown of Brockton, MA. The statue will be gifted to the city by the World Boxing Council. A location for the statue has yet to be decided. The artist Mario Rendon, head of the Instituto Universitario de las Bellas Artes in Colima, Mexico, has been selected to sculpt the statue.
|49 Wins (43 knockouts, 6 decisions), 0 Losses, 0 Draws|
|Win||Archie Moore||KO||9 , 1:19||1955-09-21||The Bronx, NY|
|Win||Don Cockell||TKO||9 , 0:54||1955-05-16||San Francisco, CA|
|Win||Ezzard Charles||KO||8||1954-09-17||The Bronx, NY|
|Win||Ezzard Charles||Decision||15||1954-06-17||The Bronx, NY|
|Win||Roland La Starza||TKO||11||1953-09-24||New York City, NY|
|Win||Jersey Joe Walcott||KO||1 , 2:25||1953-05-15||Chicago, IL|
|Win||Jersey Joe Walcott||KO||13 , 0:43||1952-09-23||Philadelphia, PA|
|Win||Harry Matthews||KO||2 , 2:04||1952-07-28||The Bronx, NY|
|Win||Bernie Reynolds||KO||3 , 2:21||1952-05-12||Providence, RI|
|Win||Gino Buonvino||KO||2||1952-04-21||Providence, RI|
|Win||Lee Savold||TKO||7 , 0:00||1952-02-13||Philadelphia, PA|
|Win||Joe Louis||KO||8||1951-10-26||New York City, NY|
|Win||Freddie Beshore||KO||5 , 0:50||1951-08-27||Boston, MA|
|Win||Rex Layne||KO||6 , 0:35||1951-07-12||New York City, NY|
|Win||Red Applegate||Decision||10||1951-04-30||Providence, RI|
|Win||Art Henri||TKO||9 , 2:51||1951-03-26||Providence, RI|
|Win||Harold Mitchell||TKO||2 , 2:45||1951-03-20||Hartford, CT|
|Win||Keene Simmons||TKO||8 , 2:54||1951-01-29||Providence, RI|
|Win||Bill Wilson||TKO||1 , 1:50||1950-12-18||Providence, RI|
|Win||Ted Lowry||Decision||10||1950-11-13||Providence, RI|
|Win||Johnny Shkor||TKO||6 , 1:28||1950-09-18||Providence, RI|
|Win||Gino Buonvino||TKO||10 , 0:25||1950-07-10||Boston, MA|
|Win||Eldridge Eatman||TKO||3||1950-06-05||Providence, RI|
|Win||Roland La Starza||Decision||10||1950-03-24||New York City, NY|
|Win||Carmine Vingo||KO||6||1949-12-30||New York City, NY|
|Win||Phil Muscato||TKO||5 , 1:15||1949-12-19||Providence, RI|
|Win||Pat Richards||KO||2 , 0:39||1949-12-02||New York City, NY|
|Win||Joe Dominic||KO||2 , 2:26||1949-11-07||Providence, RI|
|Win||Ted Lowry||Decision||10||1949-10-10||Providence, RI|
|Win||Tommy DiGiorgio||KO||4 , 2:54||1949-09-26||Providence, RI|
|Win||Pete Louthis||KO||3||1949-08-16||New Bedford, MA|
|Win||Harry Haft||KO||3 , 2:21||1949-07-18||Providence, RI|
|Win||Don Mogard||Decision||10||1949-05-23||Providence, RI|
|Win||Jimmy Evans||TKO||3||1949-05-02||Providence, RI|
|Win||Jimmy Walls||KO||3 , 2:54||1949-04-14||Providence, RI|
|Win||Artie Donato||KO||1 , 0:33||1949-03-28||Providence, RI|
|Win||Johnny Pretzie||TKO||5 , 1:46||1949-03-21||Providence, RI|
|Win||Gilley Ferron||TKO||2 , 2:21||1948-12-14||Philadelphia, PA|
|Win||James Connolly||TKO||1 , 0:57||1948-11-29||Providence, RI|
|Win||Bob Jefferson||TKO||2 , 2:30||1948-10-04||Providence, RI|
|Win||Gilbert Cardone||KO||1 , 0:36||1948-09-30||Providence, RI|
|Win||Bill Hardeman||KO||1||1948-09-20||Providence, RI|
|Win||Jerry Jackson||KO||1 , 1:08||1948-09-13||Providence, RI|
|Win||Jimmy Weeks||TKO||1 , 2:50||1948-08-30||Providence, RI|
|Win||Eddie Ross||KO||1 , 1:03||1948-08-23||Providence, RI|
|Win||Bobby Quinn||TKO||3 , 0:22||1948-08-09||Providence, RI|
|Win||John Edwards||TKO||1 , 1:19||1948-07-19||Providence, RI|
|Win||Harry Bilzerian||TKO||1||1948-07-12||Providence, RI|
|Win||Lee Epperson||KO||3||1947-03-17||Holyoke, MA|