Boston and boxing are intrinsically linked. There is something about the city and bordering neighbourhoods that creates elite-level boxers. Ever since Boxing Hall of Fame inductee John L. Sullivan, known as the “Boston Strong Boy,” dominated the sport in the 1880s, Boston has become a production live of fighters, including Paul Pender, Tony DeMarco, and John Ruiz. Although the boxers mentioned were incredibly talented, two others stand
out from the crowd thanks to achieving legendary status in the sport.
There are few boxers that have stepped into the ring that had the power, stamina, and ability of Rocky Marciano. Born and raised on the south side of Brockton, Massachusetts, in September 1923, to Italian immigrant parents, Marciano loved sport and fitness growing up. He had a makeshift gym at his parent’s house and used a stuffed mailbag hanging from a tree that served as a heavy bag for punching. Marciano took up amateur boxing while serving in the U.S. Army during the Second World War, and began taking the sport more seriously once the war ended and his tryout for the Fayetteville Cubs, a farm team of the Chicago Cubs, did not work out.
After ending his amateur career with an 8-4 record, Marciano became a professional boxer, and boy did he take to the step up in class like a duck to water. Marciano won all of his first 16 fights by knockout, with Don Mogard the only fighter to go the distance with Marciano, although Marciano won by unanimous decision. Amazingly, only five more of Marciano’s fights during a 49-fight career went the distance. Anyone looking to learn how to bet on boxing online profitably should watch Marciano’s fights and back anyone with his qualities, because he won all 49 of his contests, with 43 victories coming by the way of a knockout!
Marciano retired in September 1955 after knocking out Archie Moore at the Yankee Stadium in New York City and is still the only heavyweight boxer to remain undefeated during their professional career, including six successful title defenses.
Sadly, Marciano’s life was cut short one day before his 46th birthday when the plane he was travelling in crashed, killing all on board. A bronze statue commemorating Marciano is found on the grounds of Brockton High School.
“Marvelous” Marvin Hagler
Although born in Newark, New Jersey, Marvin Hagler is a Boston legend, thanks to his family moving to Brockton in the early 1960s. Hagler earned the nickname “Marvelous” and became so annoyed that network announcers did not use that nickname often enough that he legally changed his name to Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
In 1969, aged only 15, Hagler was roughed up in the street by a local boxer, and he was determined to exact revenge, so walked into a boxing gym the following day to learn the art of boxing. It is fair to say Hagler was a natural in the ring, and it did not take long for him to start entering amateur tournaments, including the United States National Championships held in Boston in May 1973, which he won.
Hagler gained a reputation for being a ferocious fighter, which meant fellow top professionals were weary of stepping into the ring with him. He won his first 17 contests, including a unanimous decision victory over 1972 Olympic silver medalist Sugar Ray Seales. Hagler lost his 27th and 29th fight but embarked on a 33-fight winning streak, which only ended in his last-ever battle.
Marvelous won the WBA, WBC, and The Ring middleweight titles after a TKO victory over Alan Minter at Wembley Stadium, London. He went on to successfully defend his belts 12 times, leading to a mouth-watering clash with Sugar Ray Leonard at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, in April 1987. Hagler lost the fight and his titles by a split decision. He demanded a rematch but Leonard opted to retire, so Hagler hung up his gloves, too.
On March 13, 2021, Hagler passed away of natural causes aged 66.