champion who won all 49 of his professional fights and is often among those considered the greatest boxer
of all time.
Marciano (DOB: 9/1/1923 in Brockton, Massachusetts as Rocco Marchegiano) boxed for a while as an amateur and actually lost several bouts versus older and more experienced fighters.
At the age of 23, Marciano had his first professional fight, a 3-round knockout of a fighter named Lee Epperson. For the next several years, he moved his way up the ranks, beating everyone he faced, mostly by knockouts. Almost all of his early fights took place in nearby Providence, Rhode Island. In 1949 alone, he fought 13 times, but as he moved up, he trained more and fought less.
On October 26, 1951, win #37 was an 8th round knockout of the legendary (and aging) Joe Louis, in New York City.
Less than a year later, on September 23, 1952, Marciano got his chance at the heavyweight title, in a fight with champion Jersey Joe Walcott, in Philadelphia. Rocky recovered from an early knockdown to knockout Walcott in the 13th round, and become undisputed heavyweight champion.
In the next 3 years, Marciano (who was nicknamed "Rocky", "The Rock", and "The Brockton Blockbuster") defended his title 6 times, including once against Walcott and twice versus former champion Ezzard Charles. His last bout was a knockout of Archie Moore, at Yankee Stadium, on September 21, 1955.
On April 27, 1956, Marciano announced his retirement. He had beaten the major contenders, wanted to spend time with his family, and didn't see any big money fights in the near future.
His professional record was 49-0-0, with 43 knockouts. He is the only champion to retire undefeated.
Marciano met an untimely death on August 31, 1969, in a plane crash, a day before he was to turn 46.
Marciano is one of several boxers who many claim to be the greatest heavyweight champion of all time (along with such boxers as Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Muhammad Ali, and yes, Mike Tyson). See the barbershop scenes in Eddie Murphy's "Coming To America" for a funny sample of such an argument.
In 1999, ESPN's SportsCentury selected Marciano as #51 on their list of the 100 greatest North American athletes of the 20th century.