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Rocky Marciano raised money for the fight against Muscular Dystrophy.
Most of you in this part of the forum, will of course know this, but for those who don't, I thought it was just a nice fact, in a pleasant story, with a lot of kind words from legendary fighters.
Tragic Death and the Legacy of Marciano
"Everything I remember about him is good." Joe Louis
On the Sunday evening of August 31st, 1969, Rocky and his friend Frank Farrell boarded a single engined Cessna at Midway Airport, in Chicago for a flight to Des Moines, Iowa. Rocky wanted to get back to Fort Lauderdale on Monday to celebrate his 46th birthday with his family. His wife had impressed upon him the importance of being home in time for the party planned by his 16 year old daughter Mary Ann, but Rocky owed a favor to Frank’s father, Louis Fratto. He was asked to make an appearance at ringside at the fight of a young fighter Farrel and his father had an interest in. His intention was to fly to Des Moines for a few hours then return to Chicago to catch a plane to Fort Lauderdale.
The pilot, Glenn Belz, had only 231 total hours of flying time, with only 35 hours at night. A weather briefing warned of stormy skies over Iowa, with a low ceiling. Belz was not instrument rated.
At 6 pm the plane left Midway Airport with Rocky seated next to the pilot and Frank Farrell in the back seat. At 8:50 Belz contacted Des Moines Radar Approach Control. He was above a layer of clouds and could not see his destination, Newton Airport. He requested radar assistance, but moments later radioed he’d broken out of the clouds and was landing at Newton Airport to refuel.
At 9:00 a witness saw the plane come in at less than one hundred feet over the ground, two miles south of the airport. It seemed the pilot was trying to climb but then lost altitude. The plane hit a lone oak tree in the center of a cornfield before skidding for about 235 feet and coming to rest near a drainage ditch. Belz and Farrell were thrown clear of the plane, but Rocky was found still in his seat. All three died instantly.
The National Transportation Safety Board report said, "The pilot attempted operation exceeding his experience and ability level, continued visual flight rules under adverse weather conditions, and experienced spatial disorientation in the last moments of the flight."
What can be said of Rocky Marciano that is fitting to the kind of man he truely was in life? He was a decent,simple man, raised by a mother and father with high moral standards. That he fought his earliest fights under an assumed name so that his mother would not find out speaks of the concern he had for her feelings.
He was well respected by those who knew him and the men he fought. Each had their own thoughts and words at the funeral.
"He was a man of courage inside the ring. Outside, he was kind and gentle." Jersey Joe Walcott
"Something's gone out of my life. I'm not alone, something's gone out of everyone's life." Joe Louis
"He was a great fighter and a great man." Joe Frazier
"There was no pretense about Rocky. He was the genuine thing." Joey Maxim
"This man was one of the greatest champions ever. He refused to accept defeat. And nobody beat him." Sonny Liston.
Muhammad Ali told how he sped to Fort Lauderdale, breaking speed limits and ignoring red lights to get to the funeral on time.
Clowning with Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin to raise money for the fight against Muscular Dystrophy.
...And caught between presidential candidates Richard Nixon and Joh F. Kennedy.
Rocky's mother, Pasqualina Marchegiano. She never saw any of Rocky's fights, nor would she listen to them on the radio. She said that after a fight, he would always call and say, "Ma, I win again!"
Asked if she ever worried about him getting hurt, she said, "I worried more about the other fellow, because he got a mother, too."
Rocky's funeral,September 5th,1969.
"His determination, his will, and his eminence had created a depth of affection and a hold on his fans that not only outlasted his career, but his life as well, making the name 'Marciano' a shrine to determination and excellence." Bert Randolph Sugar
* Courtesy of Geocities.com *