August 31, 1969 was the day before Rocky Marciano's 46th birthday... and this day would forever play its role as the most cruel in boxing history.
Three men were aboard the Cessna 172 which crashed that fateful August night, and not one survived.
The pilot Glenn Belz was a veteran flyer but didn't have the qualifications for the plane. His troubleshoot of a landing ended up killing his two passengers along with himself, and strangely enough this was within the same area that Buddy Holly lost his life in a small plane a little over 10 years prior.
Rocky was flying to Des Moines, Iowa for his 46th, and he had a friend in Frakie Farrell with him, the son of one of Rocky's oldest buds in former boxer Lew Farrell.
Rocky, Lew, and Glenn all lost their lives that night due to a misread of direction and a tree standing awry.
The crash was due to the plane catching too much drift after hitting the tree and causing the pilot in Belz to lose all control.
This event shook the entire boxing world as Rocky Marciano is one of the great boxing minds in history. The well spoken man could've been an actor with his intelligence and demeanor; his mean streak in the ring was almost a facade to the complete intellectual of a man he really was.
In remember Rocky's death, I remember his life, and what he means to me. Strangely enough in boxing I don't respect many like I do Rocky Marciano. His 50-0 record, leaving the sport undefeated with all his faculties intact, and his larger than life persona with bricks for hands to match!
Rocky is one of the unsung heros of boxing, and I wear his shirt whenever I workout. I commemorate legends in my heart because that is who I strive to be.
I loved the legacy of this man, and no matter how old Joe Louis was when he beat him... that was still Joe Louis!
He was as sharp as a tac yet respectful unlike his brutish persona. He describes Ali as a man who hasn't unlocked his potential, but he saw greatness in him many years before he'd be considered 'the greatest'.
Rocky was far beyond his years, and his archaic fightstyle was most effective for his lack of reach and height.
He was fighting men around 200 pounds and 6 foot while he was around 5'8 with one of the shortest reaches (proportionately) in pro-boxing at 68 inches. To put his short arms into perspective, he had 6 inches less of reach than Conor McGregor, a natural lightweight! Jack Dempsey had 77 inches of reach while Joe Louis had 76! Marciano was also quite stocky and short, he was literally in a world of giants conquering them one by one.
If you have 6 minutes to spare, please give Rocky that time on this most sad of days. In this interview he is so eloquent, and you can get a feel for the man he really was.
Be Like Rocky... Be Great.