International Boxing Hall of Fame

Rocky Graziano

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Rocky Graziano

Real name Thomas Rocco Barbella
Nickname(s) The Rock
Rated at Middleweight
Nationality Flag of the United States American
Birth date 1 January 1919
Birth place New York City, New York
Death date May 22, 1990 (aged 71)
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 83
Wins 67
Wins by KO 52
Losses 10
Draws 6
No contests 0

Rocky Graziano, born Thomas Rocco Barbella in New York City (1 January 1919 May 22, 1990), was an American boxer. Graziano was considered one of the greatest knockout artists in boxing history, often displaying the capacity to take his opponent out with a single punch.

Amateur career

Graziano fought briefly as an amateur, winning the New York AAU Metropolitan Championship.

Professional career

Graziano was world boxing champion, and he fought Tony Zale in one of boxing's most storied rivalries ever. He also fought Sugar Ray Robinson, losing by early knockout in three rounds. In his early days, he fought Mickey Caderelli. He is most famous for his three title bouts with Tony Zale, all for the middleweight title.

Career Trouble

In 1948 the National Boxing Association indefinitely suspended Graziano in all parts of the world under NBA supervision, announced President Abe Green, following similar action by the California State Athletic Commission. This was due to Graziano's "running out" on a scheduled Dec. 1 bout with Fred Apostoli. The suspension covered all of the American states, Great Britain, the European Boxing Federation, Cuba, Mexico, and Canada. Almost two years earlier, Graziano had been suspended by the NYSAC for failure to report an alleged bribe attempt. Boxing promoter Ralph Tribuani got Graziano a license in Delaware, where the allegations were perceived as ridiculous. This led to the reinstatement of Graziano by both the NBA and NYSAC and Rocky�s return to prosperity.

In 1950, he ended the career of the boxer Pete Mead, a native of Arkansas, with victory in the third round.

Post Boxing Career

After his retirement from boxing, he became a well-known television comedian, participating in the Beerhat Mcfly Show for a number of years, and co-hosting a short-lived series titled The Henny and Rocky Show with famous comedian Henny Youngman. He was also a semi-regular on the Martha Raye Show, portraying Martha's "boyfriend." He portrayed Packy, an ex-boxer, in the 1967 Frank Sinatra film "Tony Rome".

Paul Newman portrayed him in the 1956 film Somebody Up There Likes Me as having an abusive childhood and criminal background, using boxing as an outlet for his violent behavior.

Personal life

  • Graziano was the son of Fighting Nick Bob, who had a brief boxing career.
  • Bert Sugar wrote in his book "The 100 Greatest Boxers of All Time": "Graziano was raised on the lower East Side where both sides of the tracks were wrong." He overcame coming from a disadvantaged background, to rise to the top of the ring and entertainment world.
  • He died from cardiopulmonary failure on May 22, 1990 in New York City.



  1. ^ Many alternative birth dates appear in the literature. However, his grave says he was born 1 January 1919 and his widow has confirmed this was the correct date.
Preceded by
Tony Zale
World Middleweight Champion
16 Jul 1947� 10 Jun 1948
Succeeded by
Tony Zale