Regular price $75.00

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. He was ranked 23rd on Ring Magazine's list of the greatest punchers of all time. Graziano's life story was the basis of the 1956 Oscar-winning drama film Somebody Up There Likes Me, based on his 1955 autobiography of the same title. The film starred Paul Newman and was directed by Robert Wise. As he grew older, Rocky forsook the street games of ring o levio and stickball for gang fights in parks. He spent more time on street corners and less time in school. He felt his poverty more. Since it was more profitable to fight for gold watches than for free in an alley, he joined clubs and won watches, which he sold at the going rate. He was scouted, naturally enough, by sharpeyed managers, and finally, getting sick of the diet of doughnuts and seeing no other way to raise his standard of living, he listened to the blandishments of some of them and signed a few contracts. But the rigmarole of training disgusted him and he and his early managers went their separate ways, the latter hoping he would get stiffened when he stepped into the ring with a competent fighter. Rocky finally wound up with Irving Cohen, who had the sense to give him a long leash. Cohen changed Rocky’s name from Barbells to Graziano (his grandfather’s name) and lined up a fight. Refusing to train much, Graziano nevertheless showed a gang war, killer instinct and won by a knockout. Other fights were lined up with Cohen trying, in his subtle way, to overmatch Rocky, get him defeated, and thereby show Rocky the value of getting into condition. It was impossible to overmatch him. Rocky kept knocking them over. He even demanded a fight with Sugar Ray Robinson which, fortunately, he didn’t get for a good many years. He had money in his pockets and he set them up for his friends, their numbers growing by the hundreds in every bar on the East Side. He wallowed in noisy celebrity. He was moving up in the world, at least in the only world he had ever known. In March 1945, at Madison Square Garden, Graziano scored one of the major upsets in boxing over the phenom Billy Arnold. Arnold's style was similar to that of Sugar Ray Robinson; he was a slick boxer with lightning-fast combinations and a knockout punch. The Ring Magazine and various newspapers across the United States touted Arnold as the next Joe Louis or Sugar Ray Robinson. Arnold was a heavy favorite to defeat Graziano, and then to go on to fight for the world title. However, in a brutal battle, Graziano absorbed a beating in the early going, before going on to batter and knockout Arnold in the third round of the scheduled eight round bout. Following his defeat to Graziano, Billy Arnold was never the same. Graziano went on to become the world boxing champion, and he fought Tony Zale in one of boxing's most storied rivalries. He also fought Sugar Ray Robinson, losing by early knockout in three rounds. He is most famous for his three title bouts with Tony Zale, all for the middleweight title. In their first match (September 27, 1946), after flooring Graziano in the first round, Zale took a savage beating from Graziano, and was on the verge of losing the fight by TKO. However, he rallied and knocked out Graziano in the sixth round to retain his title. The rematch, a year later in Chicago (July 16, 1947), was a mirror image of their first fight. The referee almost stopped the second fight in the third round because of a severe cut over Graziano's left eye, which would have awarded the victory to Zale, but Graziano's cutman, Morris ("Whitey") Bimstein, was able to stop the bleeding to let the fight continue. Graziano was battered around the ring, suffered a closed eye and appeared ready to lose by a knockout, then rallied and knocked Zale out in the sixth round, becoming middleweight champion of the world. Their last fight was held in New Jersey the following year (June 10, 1948). Zale regained his crown, winning the match by a knockout in the third round. The knockout blows consisted of a perfect combination of a right to Graziano's body, then a left hook to Graziano's jaw. Graziano was knocked unconscious. His last attempt at the middleweight title came in April 1952, when Sugar Ray Robinson knocked him out in three rounds. He retired after losing his very next fight, a 10-round decision to Chuck Davey. After his retirement from boxing, he became a well-known television comedian, co-hosting a short-lived series titled The Henny and Rocky Show with famous comedian Henny Youngman. He was also a semi-regular on NBC's The Martha Raye Show, portraying host Martha Raye's "boyfriend." Graziano also appeared as a regular on the United Artists TV series Miami Undercover for its entire run, and appeared in several series and shows, including The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom on ABC and an episode of NBC's Car 54, Where Are You?. He portrayed Packy, an ex-boxer, in the 1967 Frank Sinatra film Tony Rome. In the 1960s, Graziano opened a pizza restaurant called Rocky Graziano's Pizza Ring on Second Avenue in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, eventually creating a modest franchise for the restaurant in the New York City area. He also became the celebrity spokesman for Lee Myles Transmissions in the New York City area, appearing on dozens of television commercials from the mid-1970s to the mid 1980s. In his retirement, Graziano dabbled in painting and developed an admiration for the work of Pablo Picasso. Offered here is a post career souvenir pin of Rocky Graziano used for advertising purposes.
This is an original, metallic, pin which pictures Graziano. Pin firmly attached to the back. Bold color and print. Bold, clear image. No dents. Minor surface wear. Clean front and back. 3 inches in diameter.

Size: 3 inch diameter

Condition: excellent