A Life Cut Short
The champion retired from boxing in 1956, when he was 31 years old. His record between 1947 and 1956 of forty-nine victories to zero losses included forty-three knockouts. Weary of training, and with tension rising between him and his manager, Al Weill (his arrangement with Weill required him to split all of his earnings 50-50), Marciano welcomed the opportunity to spend more time with his family. A careful manager of his own money, Marciano was set for life with a four million dollar fortune, and did not want to go out with a whimper as other champions had done, by continuing to fight past his prime. He did nearly succumb to temptation to stage a comeback in 1959, and spent a month training in secret before thinking better of it.
Now the only heavyweight boxing champion to retire completely undefeated, Marciano spent the next ten years making personal appearances. He died on the night of August 31, 1969 when the private plane in which he was a passenger crashed outside of Des Moines, Iowa. He died one day shy of his 46th birthday. He was survived by his wife Barbara—to whom he had been married for nineteen years—and his two children, Rocco Kevin, and Mary Anne. He was said to have had many close friends and to be a loving husband and father, but nevertheless to be extremely secretive about his post-boxing business dealings. He died without making a will, and without revealing where he had placed much of his fortune.
Somewhat awkward, not noted for his speed or agility, Marciano nevertheless overcame his opponents through sheer drive, determination, and the power of his punches. He remains today the only heavyweight champion boxer to retire completely undefeated.