Rocco Francis Marchegiano, or the invincible Rocky
One of the strongest heavyweights in boxing history: perhaps not everyone knows that Rocky Marciano, name to the registry office Rocco Francis Marchegiano, surname then crippled in Marciano by the Americans for ease of pronunciation, had origins in Abruzzo. His parents were both Italians, who emigrated to the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century. The father Pierino was from Ripa Teatina, a town in the province of Chieti that stands on a hill near the Adriatic coast, almost halfway between Francavilla al Mare and Chieti.
The future "king of the ring" climbed the first time on the roped stage to beat an idol of the native town Brockton, in the state of Massachusttes, earning 30 dollars. That was the first step of his prestigious career that would have led him to the world throne after 49 victories, one more exciting than the other. His was a mild character, which did not allow him to be out of touch or boast, he made no predictions, lowered his head and said only: «I will win, that's all, the rest will be seen». He was the classic good boy, who never had trouble with justice, did not get drunk, did not take drugs and worked hard. He was aware that he did not possess speed or superfine technique, but compensated for these gaps with perfect physical preparation, great power and resistance that had no equal in the history of boxing. Rocky collected punches that would knock out anyone and respond blow by blow, as long as his opponent did not give up, so he won 49 consecutive fights, 43 before the limit. Among his victims, the legendary Joe Louis, Ezzard Charles and Archie Moore. Rocky has shown great intelligence by retiring undefeated and not being tempted by lavish bags to fight against rising champions. His attachment to the church was proverbial, like his attachment to the family. When he returned to Brockton he was always very sociable with his fellow citizens and for this genuineness he was very loved by the American people.
When Rocky died in a plane crash on August 31, 1969, the entire nation was moved. Today his myth is still alive all over the world and, in particular, in Ripa Teatina where the memory of the "villager" is always strong in the minds of the inhabitants of the small town of Abruzzo, so much so that to remember and celebrate the great champion and the great man are often organized several initiatives including the Rocky Marciano Award that is attributed to the best sportsman from Abruzzo of the year. In Ripa there are many memorabilia of the champion including a pair of original gloves made in 1964 by an Italian company exclusively for Rocky and used, in that year, by the world champion for demonstration meetings held in various Italian locations.