Rocky Marciano and Ezzard Charles met twice in 1954, the fights exactly three months apart, on June 17 and Sept. 17. Marciano, the reigning heavyweight champion, won both bouts, and each fight was remarkable in its savagery. In the first fight, Charles, the former champ, held off Marciano's tauromachian assaults for the first seven rounds, slicing a mean cut over the Rock's left eye. Then, in the eighth, Marciano connected with a vicious right uppercut that caught Charles in the throat. The punch took his breath away, and from then on, he had trouble breathing. But he refused to go down under a relentless pounding, and he was standing at the bell ending Round 15, a noteworthy achievement in itself, since Marciano had knocked out 10 straight opponents before him.
Marciano won the decision, but Charles, considered by boxing fans up to that point to be something of a dispassionate mechanic, had won new respect for his bravery under fire. In the rematch, Charles took the fight to the champion, splitting his nose down the middle like an apple. But Marciano's ponderous blows soon sapped the challenger's strength, and Charles dropped in the eighth, the Rock's 41st KO in 47 fights.
Marciano knocked out two more contenders in '55, British heavyweight Don Cockell and light heavyweight champion Archie Moore, and then retired undefeated at the comparatively young age of 32. He also died young, in the crash of a small plane in 1969, the day before his 46th birthday. Charles fought another four years after Marciano, finishing as the winner in 96 of his 122 bouts. He died at 53, in 1975, of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease.
MEDICAL BULLETINS. Between 500,000 and a million youngsters are inoculated in the summer with a new polio vaccine developed at the University of Pittsburgh by the 39-year-old Dr. Jonas Salk.
•At the June convention of the American Medical Association in San Francisco, Edward Hammond, a statistician for the American Cancer Society, offers evidence that the incidence of lung cancer in smokers is three to nine times higher than for nonsmokers. But cigarette advertising ("LSMFT—Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco," "Pall Malls are made longer—to travel the smoke further") continues unabated.
•Pierre Mendès-France, the new French premier, suggests that his countrymen cut back on their wine consumption and drink milk instead. His proposal is greeted by howls of protest and derision.
SPORTS NOTES. Determine wins the Kentucky Derby, but the world of thoroughbred racing is saddened by the retirement of Native Dancer, the big gray, who lost only one race, the Kentucky Derby of 1953.
•Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who had a cancer operation in '53, wins the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament for the third time.
•Face masks on football helmets come into widespread use.
•The Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup for the third time in five years, defeating the Montreal Canadiens four games to three.