SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – 100 years ago today, one of the greatest boxers ever was born, and Friday afternoon, the City of Springfield honored the champion who spent much of his time in the South End.

The son of Italian immigrants in Brockton- Rocky Marciano captured the hearts of Boxing Fans and Italians throughout his legendary career winning all 49 matches- 43 of which by knockout.

Friday, outside of Mom & Rico’s Parking Lot on Main Street, Mayor Sarno declared September 1st “Rocky Marciano Day” in the city of Springfield with a Mayoral Proclamation. Marciano tragically passed away in a plane crash in 1969 a day before his 46th birthday, but during his life he had a dedicated and adoring fan base in Springfield and even spent time here inspiring many who grew up looking up to him.

“He was too slow, too short, and he couldn’t punch and then he became the heavyweight champion of the world and retired undefeated and that’s an important thing to understand then,” said Paul Santaniello of Longmeadow. “If he could do something like that so could anybody else.”

At the celebration, local leaders along with Mayor Sarno spoke, including Tony Cignoli and the owner of Mom and Rico’s- Rico Daniele who has a plaque commemorating the legendary boxer.

To this day, Marciano is the only heavyweight champion to have finished his career undefeated, pretty good for an undersized older fighter who won his first fight ever right up the road at Valley Arena Gardens in Holyoke.

Local News

Heath Kalb is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Heath on X @HeathKalb and view his bio to see more of his work.