Unbeaten: Rocky Marciano's Fight for Perfection in a Crooked World Hardcover – Illustrated, June 26, 2018
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Named a Best Book of the Year by The Boston Globe and Library Journal
A Wall Street Journal 2018 "Reader Favorite"
"Mike Stanton brings back Marciano, and with him, a whole era in American social, industrial and athletic history."―David Margolick, The Wall Street Journal
“In Unbeaten, Mike Stanton aims to bring the legend to life for a new generation. He delivers a meticulously researched and eminently readable account of the only heavyweight champion who exited a savage sport with a perfect professional record ― 49-0 with 43 knockouts, 26 of them in the first three rounds. . . . [He] does a deft and detailed job of recreating Marciano’s journey through a violent and venal profession, with a direct style that pulls no punches.”―The Boston Globe
"It’s an amazing story, and it was an amazing era, and it’s all captured brilliantly. . . . Stanton is so good at describing the shadowy boxing world of Providence in the late 1940s and early ’50s you can almost smell the cigar smoke. For Unbeaten is far more than just a sports book, or even a biography of an iconic American sports figure."―Providence Journal
"This meticulously documented and well-written work should stand for both fans and scholars as Marciano's definitive biography."―Library Journal (starred review)
“The definitive Marciano biography. . . . [Stanton] runs down every source, providing rich detail ―and fresh discoveries― about Marciano’s career. . . . Engrossing and gritty.”― Paul Beston, National Review
"Uniformly superb. . . . Mike Stanton has told the champ's life story in greater detail and with more pleasing complexity than any previous book has done."―Open Letters Review
“Unbeaten is one of the best sports books I’ve read in years. It’s an irresistible story told with beautiful writing and a keen eye for detail. Like Rocky Marciano, this book hits hard and won’t be easily put down.” ―Jonathan Eig, author of Ali: A Life
"Marciano's improbable rise to the heavyweight championship of the world is a remarkable story, and Stanton tells it well. He conducted an enormous amount of research and has woven his findings into an engaging narrative. . . . He recreates places and events in impressive detail and brings them to life. . . . People who are just names in history books come alive as vividly-drawn characters."―Thomas Hauser, The Sporting News
“A satisfying biography of the iconic boxer, the only heavyweight champion to retire undefeated. . . [and] a sturdy contribution to the literature of the sweet science, reminding readers of a bygone era of fighting.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“This is a story that has waited a long time to be told this well, by a gifted writer and reporter like Mike Stanton. It is a story about the way things used to be in boxing, in the sport -- and the America -- that produced the myth and the reality of Rocky Marciano. Finally, at long last, the real Rocky has met his match.”
―Mike Lupica, columnist, New York Daily News
“Mike Stanton has done phenomenal work – where did he find so many great stories? Rocky Marciano was a legendary champion whose path to glory was so much more complicated than his undefeated record suggests. And his story transcends sports; it’s a window into a changing America in the middle of the twentieth century. I was a big fan of Stanton’s book on Buddy Cianci, and I’m an even bigger fan of this one.”―Nicholas Pileggi, author of Wiseguy and Casino
“Sitting down in the ring with Muhammad Ali to share slices of grapefruit, visiting the dying mob boss Vito Genovese in a Kansas prison -- Mike Stanton’s book on Rocky Marciano teems with marvelous scenes and revealing insights into the chaotic boxing world of the unbeaten heavyweight champ.”―David Maraniss, author of When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi
“Take a seat in the smoky arena. (Please remove your hat.) Listen to the jabber-jabber talk around you. Make a wager, preferably on the stubby white guy from Brockton, Mass. Plug into the excitement, the jostle, the sweat and the grind, the 1950s action when boxing was important and the heavyweight champion of the world was the king of all athletes. Mike Stanton makes Rocky Marciano walk the earth again in Unbeaten and nothing is going to stand in his way. This book is wonderful.” ―Leigh Montville, author of Sting Like a Bee: Muhammad Ali vs. the United States of America, 1966-1971
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.3 pounds
- Hardcover : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1627799192
- ISBN-13 : 978-1627799195
- Dimensions : 6.44 x 1.33 x 9.44 inches
- Publisher : Henry Holt and Co.; Illustrated edition (June 26, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #372,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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It has been my experience that most historical boxing books are written as if they were simply copying “play by play” from either an old sports section… or many actually come across as if they’re copied from an old tickertape printout. Most are written by sportswriters (no offense…. I read their work every day of my life) who either put their subject in a room and tape and convert their comments… or simply pound out a story like they’re meeting their weekly deadline. This book by Mike Stanton… is written by a real literary talent… so the reader is blessed with being able to be engulfed simultaneously with a story of the Rocky Marciano… the only undefeated Heavyweight Champion in the world… with all the statistics and accomplishments attached to this once in the world… people’s true undefeated champion… but at the same time… savvy readers… get the added bonus of thoroughly enjoying the written word as it was meant to be… but not often… presented… wrapped and immersed in a classic boxing story.
Rocky’s entire hard scrabble life is brought to you… so you can truly understand… grasp… and feel… what made Rocky… Rocky. The hardworking Italian immigrants… the loving… protective Mother… the siblings… and the neighborhood friends… some of whom were by Rocky’s side his entire life. One of the great sub-plots of the story… is how the entire hometown of Brockton, Massachusetts… supported Marciano… both with their love and pride… and many of their paychecks… many betting every single fight of Rocky’s career. Some “pressed”…. bet after bet… and actually bought houses they could never have afforded… without taking the chance and constantly betting on every fight of their hometown hero.
The author pulls no punches (Like Rocky!)… And uncovers and reports the good with the bad. As much as I knew about Marciano… I was surprised about Rocky’s trouble in the military during World War II. I never knew about his court martial and serving time for assault and robbery. Great reporting… and happily… Rocky came out better for it on the other side. Rocky’s love of baseball… and his earliest dreams was of being a Major League ballplayer. He actually went to a couple of big league tryout camps. And as every true boxing fan knows… despite the so called experts saying Rocky was too short… his arms too short… his legs too fat… and his speed too slow… Rocky became a legend that will live on forever. FORTY-NINE-FIGHTS… FORTY-THREE-KNOCKOUTS. His fights in the ring were the most visible fights… but he was constantly battling a crooked manager… and the mob that was running boxing at the time.
Mike Stanton the author shows the ability to use his prose to get to your heart… soul… or gut… in every imaginable way and situation. The very opening sentence in the book… grabs you like it was created by either Ernest Hemingway… or Jim Murray…. “HE DIED WITH THE BLUNT FORCE HE HAD USED TO DISPATCH SO MANY OPPONENTS IN THE RING—SUDDENLY AND VIOLENTLY, IN A CORNFIELD IN THE MIDDLE OF AMERICA, THE MONTH AFTER MAN FIRST WALKED ON THE MOON.”
He is just as eloquent when describing the absolute savagery that erupted immediately… or over time… in so many of his fights. Whether it was against Jersey Joe Walcott… Ezzard Charles… or Archie Moore… the gushing blood… broken and split noses… ballooning eyes… and mouths that combined both… the many broken bones… and the deep down… internal… pride… that makes a champion continue to fight on… despite the odds… the pain… the blood… and other seen and unseen obstacles… it’s also about Rocky crying after he crushed his childhood idol… Joe Louis… or when he went to church and prayed when he almost killed Carmine Vingo in the ring. The writer continues to write… and the reader continues to feel. Just as Rocky continued to throw brutal combinations with his “SUZIE-Q” terminator destroying his opponents… the author never lets up with his combinations of “feelings-facts-and-prose”… this book is a **KNOCKOUT**!
Rocky had an unblemished record of 49 wins and no losses when he retired in 1956. Boxing was and is a vicious sport and Marciano nearly killed an opponent named Carmine Vingo that left him partially paralyzed. The book also covers the role the mob played in professional boxing with gangster Frankie Carbo being considered the boxing commissioner of the underworld. Rocky's manager was a shady character named Al Weill who Rocky felt was stealing money on him.
Like several other boxers Rocky had no concept of the value of money. He'd have uncashed checks for many thousands of dollars that went unused yet he would demand payment for loans of much lesser amounts from others. Rocky's distrust of banks led him to squirrel away money in various places and forgetting where he put it. After his death his family had no idea where to look for money he had hidden from himself and others.
Although there was nothing stylish about Rocky Marciano as a boxer he will always remain an iconic athlete from the 1950s. If you're a boxing fan this is a book you should have in your library. This will remain one of my five boxing books in my library The book contains eight pages of photographs.