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Rocky Marciano born 1923, faced world heavyweight champion, 38-year-old Jersey Joe Walcott in Philadelphia on September 23, 1952. Walcott dropped Marciano in the first round and steadily built a points lead; but in the thirteenth, Marciano's "Suzie Q" right cross knocked Walcott unconscious, and Marciano was the new world heavyweight champion. His first defense came a year later against Walcott, who this time was knocked out in the first round. Next, it was Roland La Starza's turn to challenge Marciano. After building a small lead on the judges' scorecards all the way to the middle rounds, Marciano won by a technical knockout in the eleventh round. 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 four 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. Rocky Marciano announced his retirement on April 27, 1956.

In 1969, on the eve of his 46th birthday, Marciano was a passenger in a small private plane, a Cessna 172[9] headed to Des Moines, Iowa. It was at night, and bad weather set in. The pilot, Glenn Belz, had only 231 total hours of flying time, only 35 of them at night, and was not certified to fly in such dangerous conditions. Belz tried to set the plane down at a small airfield outside Newton, Iowa, but hit a tree two miles short of the runway. Evidently, the plane was also extremely low on fuel. Rocky, Belz (the young pilot), and 22 year old Frankie Farrell (son of Italian mobster Louis Fratto) were killed on impact. The National Transportation Safety Board report said, "The pilot attempted operation exceeding his experience and ability level, continued visual flight rules under adverse weather conditions, and experienced spatial disorientation in the last moments of the flight."[10] [11]. Marciano was on his way to give a speech to support a friend's son and there was a surprise birthday celebration waiting for him. He had hoped to return early morning for his 46th birthday celebration with his wife. He was coming from a dinner in Chicago at STP CEO Andy Granatelli's home. 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.

Jersey Joe Walcott was born Arnold Raymond Cream. He debuted as a professional boxer on September 9, 1930, fighting Cowboy Wallace and winning by a knockout in round one. After five straight knockout wins, in 1933, he lost for the first time, beaten on points by Henry Wilson in Philadelphia. He built a record of 45 wins, 11 losses and 1 draw before challenging for the world title for the first time. Walcott lost early bouts against world-class competition. He lost a pair of fights to Tiger Jack Fox and was knocked out by contender Abe Simon. But that would change in 1945 when Walcott beat top heavyweights such as Joe Baksi, Lee Q. Murray, Curtis Sheppard and Jimmy Bivins. He closed out 1946 with a pair of losses to former light heavyweight champ Joey Maxim and heavyweight contender Elmer Ray, but promptly avenged those defeats in 1947.

On December 5, 1947, he fought Joe Louis, at thirty three years of age breaking the record as the oldest man to fight for the world heavyweight title. Despite dropping Louis in round one, and once again in round four, he lost a 15 round split decision. Most ringside observers and boxing writers felt Walcott deserved the win, and so there was a rematch on June 25, 1948, when Louis prevailed once again, this time by a knockout in round 11.

June 22 of 1949, Walcott got another chance to become world heavyweight champion, when he and Ezzard Charles met for the title left vacant by Louis. Charles prevailed, however, by decision in 15 rounds. Walcott, disappointed but eager to see his dream of being a champion come true, went on, and in 1950, he won four of his five bouts, including a three round knock-out of future world light heavyweight champion Harold Johnson.

On March 7 of 1951, he and Charles fought once again, and Charles retained the world title with a 15 round decision. But on July 18, he joined a handful of boxers who claimed the world title in their fifth try, when he knocked out Charles in seven rounds in Pittsburgh, to finally become world's heavyweight champion, at the relatively old age of 37. This made him the oldest man ever to win the world heavyweight crown (a distinction he would hold until George Foreman won the title at age 45 in 1994).

Walcott retained the title with a 15 round decision victory against arch-enemy Charles, then, on September 23, 1952, he lost his title to Rocky Marciano by knockout in round 13. There was a rematch, on May 15, 1953, in Chicago, and the second time around,Walcott was unable to regain his belt when he was again defeated by Marchiano by a knockout in the first round.

Retired, Jersey Joe Walcott became Sheriff of Camden County in 1972 and then chairman of the New Jersey State Athletic Commission in 1975 until 1984. Walcott died in 1994.


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