By Matthew Hurley: “To be a champion requires total commitment of mind and body. There is no second place when they call you a champ. It’s because you don’t lose.” - Rocky Marciano
On a beautiful and unusually warm April Sunday afternoon the Brockton Post Office in Massachusetts was officially dedicated to the late heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano
. Forty years after his tragic death in a plane crash Marciano remains the favorite son of the city of Brockton. A crowd of several hundred people including Rocky’s brother Peter, son Rocky Jr., friend Goody Petronelli and US Congressman Stephen Lynch turned out at 120 Commercial Street to pay homage to the only heavyweight champion to retire undefeated.
Memorabilia vendors sold T-shirts, photos, calendars and posters while post office officials passed out bottles of water to the sun burned crowd. The festivities kicked off with an Invocation by Father Larry Wetterholm, a friend of the legendary boxer and the singing of the National Anthem by Yara Cardoso.
“We’re here to honor the perseverance of Rocky Marciano
,” his brother Peter said. “His undefeated record is among the great records of all time. Sometimes he gets credit for it and sometimes he doesn’t but in the end his heart and accomplishments speak for themselves.”
Said his son Rocky Jr., “The 1950s were a golden age for the country and for the sport of boxing. This is such a great honor for Rocky, myself, my family and the city of Brockton.”
Goody Petronelli, who trained Brockton’s other great boxing champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler, movingly remembered his friend and recalled the day he heard that Marciano had died. The two men had decided to go into business together only days before.
“I was coming back home from California, driving cross country, when I heard it on the radio. I had to pull over.”
Petronelli paused for a few moments and then concluded simply, “I could talk about Rocky all day long. He was the greatest.”