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Rocky Graziano

Career As Entertainer

In addition to his autobiography, Graziano's recurring role as comedienne Martha Raye's boyfriend on her self-titled television show kept him in the public eye throughout the 1950s. Graziano eventually turned into an all-around entertainer, appearing in television shows, movies, plays, and advertisements, almost always in a comic role that played up his Lower East Side persona and accent. Graziano published a second memoir, Somebody Down Here Likes Me Too, in 1981 and often campaigned for Republican Party candidates, including Ronald Reagan. In declining health throughout the 1980s, Graziano died from cardiopulmonary failure on May 22, 1990 in New York City.

Chronology

1922 Born June 6 in New York City to Nick and Ida Scinto Barbella
1939 Begins training as a boxer
1940 Serves jail term for parole violation in New York City
1941 Serves term in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary for being Absent Without Leave
1942 Begins professional boxing career
1943 Marries Norma Unger
1946 Loses World Middleweight Title match against Tony Zale
1947 Boxing license suspended for failing to report a bribe
1947 Wins World Middleweight Title match against Tony Zale
1948 Loses World Middleweight Title match against Tony Zale
1952 Concludes career as professional boxer
1955 Publishes autobiography, Somebody Up There Likes Me
1977 Induction into the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame
1991 Induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame
1990 Dies in New York City on May 22

Awards and Accomplishments

1947 Wins World Middleweight title
1977 Induction into the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame
1991 Induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame

Despite his rather crude technique as a boxer, Graziano was remembered at the time of his death for one of the most exciting boxing rivalries in history against Zale. Yet he was also celebrated for his accomplishments outside the boxing ring. For many professional boxers, their post-athletic careers are filled with disappointment and frustration. Graziano was one of the few to become even more successful after his days in the ring ended. The grade-school dropout became a published author; the reform-school inmate befriended some of the most powerful Republican politicians in the country; the quintessential New Yorker became a beloved national celebrity. Although the tales he told about his life were somewhat fanciful, Graziano's candor and commonsense outlook earned him respect far beyond the boxing ring.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsBoxingRocky Graziano Biography - Rough-and-tumble Childhood, Professional Debut In 1942, Classic Series With Tony Zale