September 24, 2012

Rocky Marciano Statue Rocks Brockton

The Rock unveiled in the City of Champions
BROCKTON — The City of Champions waited sixty years for a Rocky Marciano statue and on the day of the unveiling ceremony at Brockton High School's Marciano Stadium, they had to a wait just a little bit longer. Not everybody was so patient (60 years will do that to you) and there were boos heard from the crowd gathered around the still covered statue as one guest speaker after another took their time at the microphone addressing the crowd in honor of the undefeated former heavyweight champion. As the throng grew more and more impatient, the guest speakers got more and more unusual. From the rambling incoherency of Don King and Jose Sulaiman to the amusing invitation of Larry Holmes to meet him afterwards at George's Cafe where he'd be to "get drunk" - Brockton boxing fans were at their wit's end and wanted to see what they came for, the Rocky Marciano tribute statue.

When it was finally revealed, the massive monument to Marciano did not disappoint and there was an audible gasp from the crowd as the statue was finally uncovered by a big Brockton Fire Department crane. Weighing in at two tons and standing over twenty two feet tall, the imposing statue proved to be a fitting tribute to a man who was truly a giant in the ring despite his actual size.

As a gift to the city of Brockton from the World Boxing Council (WBC), the statue now takes its rightful place as an eternal reminder of why Brockton, Massachusetts is rightly called the City of Champions.

In addition to the abovementioned Holmes, Sulaiman, and King - the boxing community turned out in good numbers for the unveiling ceremony to pay their respects to Marciano. Spotted throughout the day were Tony Petronelli, Robbie Simms, Vito Antuofermo, Micky Ward, Tony Grano, Joe DeNucci, John Scully, Ray Olivera, Hank Lundy, John Ruiz, Lou Duva, Tony DeMarco, Gasper Ortega, Vinny Pazienza, Rich LaMontagne, and George Foreman Jr.

Following the ceremony, those in the know headed over to George's Cafe on Belmont Street in Brockton for some good eats and a chance to mingle with boxing immortality. George's is one of those old fashioned Italian restaurants where the walls are covered in local sports history but with a strong emphasis on boxing. Holmes entertained patrons with his singing and good humor while local legend and former welterweight champion Tony DeMarco posed for photos and met with fans. Vinny Pazienza was in the house and he delighted fans with his charm and good nature. John Ruiz was also there and he lived up to his nickname of the "Quiteman" - not really saying much but wearing a big smile that showed he was having as great a time as everybody else in the room.

In all - it was a great day in Brockton and a spectacular way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the date (September 23, 1952) that the "Brockton Blockbuster" Rocky Marciano defeated Jersey Joe Walcott for the Heavyweight Championship of the World with an unforgettably dramatic come from behind one-punch knockout!

Images & Words by Jeffrey Freeman, KO Digest