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Rocky Graziano


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About the Author

Jeffrey Sussman is the author of twelve non-fiction books, as well as numerous articles and short stories about boxing. He is a regular writer for the premier boxing website www.boxing.com and is the author of Max Baer and Barney Ross: Jewish Heroes of Boxing (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Sussman is the president of a public relations and marketing firm based in New York City (www.powerpublicity.com).


Jeffrey Sussman brings Rocky Graziano to life not only inside the ring but also-and more important to this reader-outside of it. Graziano's personality and his personal life, his post-fight career as a television comedian with Martha Raye and as a television pitchman and his giving nature to others less fortunate is what makes this an outstanding biography. -- J Russell Peltz, boxing promoter, International Boxing Hall of Fame, class of 2004
Rocky Graziano was one of my all-time favorite fighters. Being in the boxing business for over thirty-five years, I thought I knew it all about Rocky. That was until I read Jeffrey Sussman's new book, Rocky Graziano: Fists, Fame and Fortune. Sussman tells Graziano's story like no other ever written. I learned things about Rocky I never knew before. Sussman's writing style not only educated me more about Rocky Graziano, he put me there with him. Page after page, I felt I was with Graziano, feeling his pain as a child and his triumphs as World Champion. I could not put it down! This book is a must read for all, not just boxing fans. I fully enjoyed this book! -- Bill Calogero, boxing historian and host of the Talkin' Boxing with Billy C TV & Radio Program
Rocky Graziano was one of the most exciting and interesting boxers of the twentieth century. He was one of the highlights of the Golden Era of boxing. Jeffrey Sussman has captured this man and this time period in a fascinating story. Every punch that Rocky threw from his young years, through his championship years and into his old age is presented in riveting excitement. When you read Jeffrey's work you relive the three classic fights with Tony Zale. You feel like you are in the ring with them. You can feel the emotion that Rocky felt emerging from a street tough to a very wealthy and famous person. Once you start this book, you will not put it down. -- Bruce Silverglade, owner of boxing's world-famous Gleason's Gym
Boxing aficionado Jeffrey Sussman has done it again! Sussman tells the story of a hero from the late 1940's and 1950's in Rocky Graziano: Fists, Fame, and Fortune. Graziano was a tough-as-nails fighter who became a beloved figured in the United States, especially in the Italian-American community. Rocky was not just a great fighter but a celebrity who could be seen all over during the early days of American television. Sussman tells Rocky's story, which sweeps through the mid-twentieth century, discussing the appeal of boxing as a road to stardom. -- Steven R. Maggi, host/executive producer of the radio show Vegas Never Sleeps
A good biography is successful when the reader can imagine the subject as a living and breathing human being. If an author is unable to bring the person he or she is writing about alive, they often end up resembling a statue-still untouchable and hard to understand. Jeffrey Sussman's writing on Rocky Graziano breathes life into a legendary fighter who has been largely forgotten in some quarters. Graziano's unlikely rise from thief to middleweight champion of the world, and television star, is beautifully realized. I thoroughly enjoyed it. -- John J. Raspanti, co-author of Intimate Warfare: The True Story of the Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward Boxing Trilogy
The rebellious knockout artist, Rocky Graziano, made a dramatic comeback in 1956 with Robert Wise's award-winning film Somebody Up There Likes Me. Now, sixty-one years later, Graziano is making what should be a second award-winning comeback with Jeffrey Sussman's Rocky Graziano: Fists, Fame, and Fortune. Graziano's life was colorful and turbulent and it is chronicled here in exciting detail. Sussman captures it all. This is a must read! -- Peter W. Wood, author of Confessions of a Fighter and A Clenched Fist: The Making of a Golden Gloves Champion
Rocky Graziano (1919-90), born Tommy Rocco Barbella, was a charismatic boxer who held the world middleweight title in the late 1940s. His three title fights with Tony Zale in which Zale won the first and last, are considered by boxing historians to be among the most brutal ever contested. After Graziano retired from the ring in the early fifties, he became a popular show-business personality. Sussman examines Graziano's sketchy youth, which seemed to foreshadow a life of crime. A stint in prison following his going AWOL from the army took him further down that road, but boxing proved to be his way out, as it did for so many young men in the postwar era. As talented as he was, Graziano hated to train, opting for the good life after he won the title from Zale. Sussman does a fine job with the biographical details from start to finish, but he really nails the fight descriptions, creating a sensory experience in which the reader can almost feel the punches and hear the crowds. A vivid slice of boxing History. * Booklist *
Prolific boxing writer Sussman (Max Baer and Barnie Ross: Jewish Heroes of Boxing) relates in overwrought prose the rags-to-riches saga of a delinquent who slugged his way from the slums of Manhattan into America's heart. Thomas Rocco "Rocky" Barbella was born in 1919 to a mentally ill mother and abusive, alcoholic father. He had to fight for everything: by the time he was three, his six-year-old brother was regularly thrashing him in sparring sessions ordered by their father, a failed boxer. Violent and hyperactive, Rocky took to gang life and street crime, a course that landed him in reform school and then prison. He joined the military but went AWOL after punching a captain (to elude the MPs, he took the name Graziano and fought four boxing matches until he was discovered). Fortunately for Rocky, boxing's popularity turned his powerful right hand into a valuable commodity. A brutal trilogy of fights with Tony Zale made him a sports-page fixture; an unexpected talent for performing made him a sitcom star and pitchman for everything from Post Raisin Bran to Off-Track Betting. He wrote a bestselling memoir in 1955 called Somebody Up There Likes Me; Paul Newman played the boxer in the movie version...That said, his more thoughtful sketches of the long-forgotten men who faced Graziano provide a moving reminder that a career in boxing is not a fairy tale for most. * Publishers Weekly *
[Sussman] chronicles the life of an outstanding world champion middleweight in the postwar era. . . .[Its] engaging narrative will appeal to fans of boxing history. Recommended. * CHOICE *

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