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Unbeaten: Rocky Marciano's Fight for Perfection in a Crooked World    by Mike Stanton order for
by Mike Stanton
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2019 (2018)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Carrol Wolverton

Fighting from the Start ...

Rocky Marciano's difficult early infancy foreshadowed his life. He grew up brawling in the shoe factory town of Brocton, Massachusetts in an era where the mob pretty much ran things. Strange thing was he liked to fight, and he liked the mob figures, and he liked to hang out with them. They lived high, and that was his dream.

He was from a typical immigrant Italian family - his mother Lena pretty much ran the family. She kept warning Rocky not to hurt himself and not to damage his face. He avoided coming home after his brawls because Lena cried. She cried a lot. He had to re-learn boxing techniques later because of his habit of guarding his face.

His dad was gassed in World War I, damaged, and could only do menial work in the shoe factory. This was Rocky's future, too, and he feared it or dock work like the plague. Fighting was what he knew and what he did, Lena or no. Even later, when he was married to Barbara, both women avoided the brutal fights.

Rocky was strong, very strong, calling his knockout punch the Suzy Q. If he landed one of these punches hard, you were out. The old sport and old era of boxing was mob controlled. Rocky insisted that he be paid in cash because he didn't trust any bank or anyone else. He was quiet and soft spoken, but should you welsh on a loan, something just might happen to you. He knew all the bosses, and they liked having him around.

No scholar, he trained ceaselessly, fear of failure propelling him. It worked. Unbeaten, but sometimes battered, he had the wisdom to quit while he was undefeated and the undisputed world champ. He lived well on his earnings, followed by presentations and speech fees. He gave bags of money to Lena. He was always a welcome presence at any grand opening or party and rarely had to pay his own way. The best tables were his.

As for Barbara, after his untimely death, the story changed. The cash disappeared no surprise there. The family noticed that associates and friends started buying their own businesses.

The book is well told and is complete with names, dates, and details. His personality shines through and belies his underworld ties. Personal information makes for good storytelling. After his death, a relative quipped that he couldn't die a normal old-age death; he was Rocky.

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