Rocco Mattioli, the wild person born to hit. He was born in Ripa Teatina, in Abruzzo, on the 20th April 1953. This is the town from which the Rocky Marciano family, one of the greatest heavyweights in the boxing history, left heading to the United States. Rocco changed his name to honour Rocky Marciano.
In the late fifties, Australia was the most popular destination for those who emigrate in search of fortune. And so, five years later, Rocco joined his father in Morwell, about 100 km from Melbourne. Local people were not hospitable to immigrants: they teased him, they called him "dirty Italian" or "spaghetti"; this was first occasion that pushed him to learn how to take one’s lumps. When he was 12 years old, he worked unloading bags of cement and when he turned 13 he was in the ring to pull the first punches. His life has been hard and difficult, and the line between legal and illegal was very thin. He also went to jail when he got stopped for driving while intoxicated and he attacked the police. But, as it happens in many fairy tales, his life changed for the better thanks to the box. Australian boxing is more brutal than the Italian and the American one. Everything is allowed in that corner of the earth that seems so far away from everything. But, thanks to an unparalleled spirit, tenacity, and strength, Rocco was able to emerge from that circle of hell: in 1970, when he was only 17 years old, he began to fight professionally. He was fierce, and his desire for winning makes him unbeatable. In fact, no one can beat him; he won the Australian welterweight title for five consecutive years until 1975. What made him famous were not his physical characteristics, but his fighting spirit, his "fame", and his unstoppable right hand punch. These were the characteristics that allowed him to win a lot of matches. He was a very qualified boxer and he could not but be noticed. Giovanni and Umberto Branchini are two famous Italian sport managers with the experience of those who have been in the industry for a long time. They brought him back to Italy. Here, in 1976, he fought against the great Genoese boxer Bruno Arcari. That was a correct match, characterized by a great technical performance. The two tied the match and that was the only draw for Bruno Arcari in twelve years of consecutive victories from 1966 to 1978.
On August the 6th in 1977, in Berlin, he won the world super welterweight title, beating Eckhard Dagge with a knockout during the fifth round, consecrating his name in the history of world boxing. During the first round, he masterfully moved on the ring and teases Dagge till the victory. During the second round, Dagge affected the challenger with a hard uppercut that Rocky took with ease; this episode convinced the champion that his hard punches can affect Rocky. During the third round, Mattioli became increasingly resourceful and Dagge tried to stop his advance with his right hand punch. However, Mattioli collected a standing ovation at the end of the round, with a series of dodges. In the fourth round, Mattioli increased the pace and Dagge increasingly showed his difficulties. Three punches dubbed, by the challenger, caused the regression of the champion. The fifth round was the decisive one. Mattioli started the round in a frantic rhythm and so Dagge got in trouble; the punches arrived and Dagge could not see them, as he was able at the beginning. Especially he didn’t see a right-left hand punch combination that befell the jaw like a cyclone and knocked him down to the mat. The Californian referee, Richard Steele, started counting slowly, but Dagge had no more resources. He tried to get up but he could not do it ... this was a KO. Rocky Mattioli became the new champion of the WBC super welterweight world.
After two victorious defences, Mattioli lost the title on March the 4th in 1979 fighting against Maurice Hope, playing the match despite having suffered of a broken right hand. The competition was interrupted for technical KOT during the 9th round. The champions gave up during the ninth round, while the public was applauding. The following year he lost his rematch against Hope, who won the title for the second consecutive time.
He decided to retire in 1982, at the end of a tour in the USA, where he defeated every person standing in the ring with him. Rocco Mattioli now lives in Milan where, in a famous gym, trains aspiring champions. In his career he played 74 matches, with 65 wins (52 by KO), 7 losses (no by KO) and 2 draws. It was inserted in 2004 in the Australian National Boxing Hall of Fame.