One of the toughest


“What could be better than walking down any street in any city and knowing you’re the heavyweight champion of the world?”—Rocky Marciano

Rocky Marciano fights Jersey Joe Walcott, Philadelphia, 1952

Rocky Marciano was the world heavyweight champion from 1952 to 1956. He had the highest knockout percentage of any fighter and is the only heavyweight to retire undefeated.

Rocky Marciano and Joe Louis, New York City, 1951



On August 31, 1969, the day before his 46th birthday, Rocky boarded a Cessna 172-H at Midway Airport in Chicago with family friend Frankie Farrell, 22, and pilot Glenn Belz, 37, to fly to Des Moines, Iowa. The plane took off at 5:58 p.m. despite warnings of stormy weather ahead.

The pilot had no experience with instrument flying and had logged only 35 hours flying at night.

At 9 p.m. Belz was in trouble and attempted to land at a small airport outside Newton, Iowa. The plane was two miles short of the runway when it slammed into a tree. All three men died on impact.

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