Learn more about Rocky Marciano and Joe Louis with these facts.
Marciano was born Rocco Francis Marchegiano. He was encouraged by his manager Al Weill to change his last name so it was easier to pronounce.
Rocky Marciano stood at 5’11” and 184 lbs. with a reach of 67 inches, which was the shortest reach of any heavyweight champion. Louis stood at 6’2″ and 210 lbs. with a reach of 76 inches.
In May 1950, Joe Louis had no choice but to return to boxing after the IRS audited Louis and found that he owed the government over $500,000 between penalties and interest.
Louis, who was guaranteed $300,000 to fight Marciano, headed into the bout as the favorite, but many boxing insiders doubted he would walk away victorious.
Ruby Goldstein, who was the referee for the match, was a personal friend of Joe Louis and toured Army bases with him during World War II.
Growing up, Louis was Rocky’s idol. After Marciano knocked out Louis in the eighth round, it has been said he approached him in the dressing room and said: “I’m sorry Joe.”
Not only was Joe Louis a champion boxer, but he was also an avid golfer. In 1952, he was invited to play in the San Diego Open and became the first African-American to play in a PGA Tour event.
Marciano was killed in an airplane accident on his way to a surprise birthday celebration on August 31, 1969. The following day, September 1st, would have marked his 46th birthday.
Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings, was named after the legendary boxer and the area surrounding Madison Square Garden is known as Joe Louis Plaza.