In August, 1969, Rocky Marciano aged 45 got into the back of a small private plane with two other passengers; the pilot took off heading for Des Moines, Iowa. Rocky had been in Chicago and was on his way to make a personal appearance for a friend’s son, and celebrate his birthday prior to flying back to his Florida home to share his birthday with his Family.
The pilot, was inexperienced and as a storm system moved into the Des Moines area; tried to land at an airfield outside Newton, Iowa, hitting a tree two miles short of the runway, killing all on board. Rocky Marciano didn’t have a Will; his estate was worth over $1 million at the time.
Rocco Marchegiano the son of Italian immigrants was born in Brockton, Massachusetts, in September 1923. He started fighting professionally in 1948. His manager Al Weill was described as “manipulative, rude, and arrogant, but also well-connected.”
Weill insisted on complete control over his fighters. “They would fight…he would think for them. They could not argue. He would not tolerate any opinions from them.”
Weill would say of his relationship with Marchegiano, “I declared myself right away. I said, “You got your job and I got mine. You got all you can do to stay in condition and train for fights. I handle everything else.”
In Rocky’s early professional career a ring announcer in Rhode Island could not pronounce “Marchegiano,” so Weill suggested that they create a pseudonym. “Marciano” was chosen
Rocky beat Jersey Joe Walcott for the world heavyweight championship in 1952. During his World Heavyweight Championship reign from September 23, 1952 to April 27, 1956, he defended his title six times against the top heavyweights of that time. Rocky went on to defend his title six times, winning five by knockout.
Rocky Marciano is the only man to have held the heavyweight title and go untied and undefeated throughout his entire career winning 49 straight fights 43 by knockout.
He married his wife Barbara in December 1950. They had one daughter, Mary Ann, and adopted a son, Rocco Kevin.
Rocky later complained that, under his contract with Al Weill, he had to pay 50% of all his earnings— in and out of the ring. Some have argued that was the reason Rocky retired. He didn’t want to pay Al Weill any more money.
Rocky had an aversion to paying for anything – he even used wires to avoid putting a dime in public phone boxes – insisting on cash for personal appearances, otherwise Weill wanted 50 percent of it. He often travelled with brown paper bags full of $100 bills because he didn’t want Weill to get a dime.”
Friends suggested that Rocky had a belief that life insurance, and wills were only for regular people; he didn’t think that he would die. Rocky was not a terribly astute businessman and became involved with loan sharks who promised to give him a large return on his money. Many of these loans were never repaid and because of their nature very few if any written records relating to these activities were ever kept.
As Rocky died intestate, there were liens over the estate, administration wasn’t settled for five years. Along with coming to terms with his sudden death Rocky’s family had to find estate taxes and cover expenses to maintain the family home. His family had to move, to a more modest house. Barbara sold her diamonds to support the family.
If Rocky had known of the problems that his family would have perhaps he may have made better plans for his future. It’s important that you make adequate provision for your future by making advance care directives, superannuation, life and income protection insurance, and a Will in order to direct your estate in the way that you wish.