The boxer who dreamed of MLB: Dario Ricci's new book “Rocky Marciano” launched in Bologna in celebration of the Italian-American legend’s 100th birthday

The boxer who dreamed of MLB: Dario Ricci's new book “Rocky Marciano” launched in Bologna in celebration of the Italian-American legend’s 100th birthday
Dario Ricci's new book "Rocky Marciano" was officially launched in Bologna on Thursday, November 23, 2023 in celebration of the Italian-American boxing legend’s 100th birthday. From the Abruzzo origins of the Marchegiano family to the rise of young Rocco into the boxing world, the biography reveals Marciano’s never-realized dream of playing professional baseball.

Dario Ricci, voice of Radio 24 - Il Sole 24 Ore and author of Rocky Mariciano, proudly presented his new book in Bologna at a press conference at ASCOM-Confcommercio di Bologna on Thursday, November 23, 2023. Rocky Marciano, born Rocco Francis Marchegiano, is more than a simple story of redemption as the son of Italian immigrants in the New World at the turn of the first decades of the 20th century.

From the outskirts of the unknown Brockton, Massachusetts to the boxing ring: the epic of Rocky - the character from which the famous film series starring Rocky Balboa took inspiration - is, according to Ricci, "a journey between myth and reality, the thread conductor who unites the era of the great exodus to the United States and the Roaring Twenties with the racial discrimination of the post-World War II period.” 

Before becoming the only boxer in history to end his career undefeated, Marciano cultivated an unbridled passion for America’s favorite pastime since he was a child with aspirations of becoming a star in Major League Baseball. After some success in high school, however, Rocco's dreams of glory did not last long. His wishes were cut short by the "rejection" of the Chicago Cubs who, ironically, discarded him because he was too weak to throw with his right arm. But what seemed like the greatest of failures turned into the opportunity of a lifetime for the young Italian American, who then pursued boxing and soon became a legend. 

“Stories like this are what the new generations need to continue to believe in their dreams, said Roberta Li Calzi, Councilor for Sport and Budget of the Municipality of Bologna. “Sport is an integral part of the social fabric, it determines the growth of the community and instills important values in children, encouraging them to achieve new goals without forgetting about fun.”

49 boxing matches without defeat: a predestined role for Rocky, who earned the nickname "Invincible", before his tragic death following a plane crash in 1969. But just as the myth of Rocky Marciano continues to live on in the ring, the same goes for his connection with baseball thanks to his great-grandson Joey Marciano. The 28-year-old left-handed pitcher for the Italian national team was one of the heroes during the extraordinary 2023 World Baseball Classic. Team Italy reached the quarterfinals and made history with a fifth-place finish. A former 2017 draft pick by the San Francisco Giants, the talented lefty Marciano lives up to the last name of the undefeated fighter on the pitching mounds of professional baseball.

“Even in baseball, as in boxing, the individual component has a crucial importance,” commented Pierluigi Bissa, President of UnipolSai Fortitudo Baseball. “In fact, when the pitcher and batter face each other, they can only rely on themselves. The contrast between solitude and the concept of sport as a driver of social aggregation is the common thread that accompanies the life of every athlete, of which Marciano undoubtedly represents an inspiration and a model to follow.”

Forza #Italia!

by Edoardo Draghetti and Roberto Angotti

(Photo of the press conference held on Thursday, November 23, 2023 at the ASCOM-Confcommercio headquarters in Bologna)