WESTERLY — Mike Stanton, the bestselling author of the New York Times bestseller "The Prince of Providence: The Rise and Fall of Buddy Cianci, America's Most Notorious Mayor," returns to Westerly to talk about his newest book, a revelatory biography of Rocky Marciano, the greatest heavyweight champion of all time.
"Unbeaten: Rocky Marciano's Fight for Perfection in a Crooked World," tells the story the remarkable champion who overcame injury, doubt, and the schemes of corrupt promoters to win the title in a bloody and epic battle with Jersey Joe Walcott in 1952.
The son of poor Italian immigrants, with short arms and stubby legs, Rocky Marciano accomplished a feat that eluded legendary heavyweight champions like Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Muhammad Ali, and Mike Tyson: He never lost a professional fight. His record was a perfect 49-0.
Rocky packed a devastating punch with an innocent nickname, "Suzie Q," against which there was no defense. As the champ, he came to know presidents and movie stars - and the organized crime figures who dominated the sport, much to his growing disgust. He may have "stood out in boxing like a rose in a garbage dump," as one sportswriter said, but he also fought his own private demons.
More than just a boxing story, Stanton's book tells a classic American tale of immigrant dreams, exceptional talent wedded to exceptional ambitions, compromises in the service of a greater good, astounding success, disillusionment, and a quest to discover what it all meant.
Stanton is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Connecticut, having previously headed the investigative team at the Providence Journal, where he shared a Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife and two children.