OT: My Book: Brick City Grudge Match: Tony Zale and Rocky Graziano Battle in Newark, 1948 (McFarland)

RURod

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Dec 12, 2015
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Today marks the 74th anniversary of the rubber match of one of the most famous trilogies in boxing history. Held at an unlikely venue a minor league ballpark in Newark, NJ, the fight was of worldwide significance and acclaim. Tony Zale and Rocky Graziano were middleweights from boxing's golden age. Like millions of other Americans at the time, both men had their lives buffeted by the Great Depression and WWII. They had to fight for their place in the world. Zale left the steel mills of Gary, IN and grinded his way to the prestigious middleweight title - only to have WWII intervene. Zale signed up for a four year hitch in the Navy. Rocky, a juvenile delinquent of the extreme type, was drafted into Army but was court marshalled after slugging an officer. He served a year in Leavenworth Prison. It was there Graziano used his street fighting skills - and devesting right fist - to mold himself into a crude but powerful knockout artist. When Zale was honorably discharged after the war, he made the fateful decision to risk his title versus the Rock - his eternal rival. Their first two fights - in Yankee Stadium in 1946 (won by Zale in a stunning comeback) and in Chicago Stadium in 1947 (won by Rocky in his own shocking comeback) are ranked among the most vicious and exciting in boxing history. Midcentury Newark was struggling with political corruption, organized crime and onset of deindustrialization. Landing the third fight was a coup and point of civic pride as all the leading politicians in NJ sought to associate themselves with the event. The hope was that the big fight would spark a brighter future for the city. On June 10, 1948, the eyes of the sports world were focused on Ruppert Stadium where gathered 400 journalists from every state in country; 40 Western Union operators transmitted the blow by blow to newspapers around the globe; seven movie cameras recorded the fight; 100,000 bottles of beer were available for consumption (200 patrolmen from the Newark Police Department were assigned to keep order); and with Mel Allen broadcasting over the radio to 450 stations throughout the US.

The link to my book is attached. Thank you for your interest.

 
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RUinPinehurst

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Aug 27, 2011
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As a kid of 12 or so, I met Rocky in the Monmouth Park clubhouse dining room. Maybe 1971. He was smartly dressed in a white three-piece suit. I was with my uncle and my mom. Rocky was very gracious. Spoke with us for a bit, joked around, signed my program, then off he went.

Another memory from that day; back then, pari-mutuel tickets were kinda big and crude but color-coded. My uncle always had brown-topped tickets ($100), I would learn, in awe. After one race, in disgust, he threw down a stack of ten or so, his losing wager. I had the winner, my meager $2 ticket, red topped, I think. WooooHoooo. I didn't have the heart to celebrate. But mom knew, as she placed my bet. Uncle Joe was quite a character and a self-made man. Owned a few ponies, too. That race, though, was not his. I slid my winning ticket to mom, secretly, but wide-eyed.