Having been raised by my Italian immigrant grandparents during the 1950s, I found that your article about Rocky Marciano brought back many memories (The Rock, Aug. 23). I recall sitting on our living room floor in front of the radio, my grandfather and his friends with their wine and cigars, cheering as Rocky won and then defended his title. Marciano was a hero to Italian-Americans. He made it easier to endure the derogatory names and the gangster jokes. One of our own was the best, the heavyweight champion of the world! He made us proud.
MICHAEL G. BORELLI
William Nack refers to Marciano as "the only undefeated heavyweight champion in history," undefeated meaning not having lost any professional fights while champion and also while not champion. Marciano's record was even more impressive. He is the only champion of any division to have won all his pro bouts. Indeed, the only nonchampion of note to have had at least 20 fights and won them all was junior middleweight Tony Ayala, who went 22-0 with 19 knockouts between 1980 and '82. Since 1982 Ayala has been serving a 15-to 35-year sentence in Rahway ( N.J.) State Prison for sexual assault.
New York City
One correction to your sadly revealing piece about Rocky Marciano: Al Weill, Rocky's manager, was a courier for the Mafia gangsters who dominated boxing at the time. The 50% of Marciano's earnings that Rocky claims he had to give to Weill eventually went to Frankie Carbo and his associates.
Marciano later told the story to his friend Mario Lanza, the singer, who passed it along to agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. According to a confidential memo in 1956 by Howard W. Chappell of the bureau's Los Angeles office, Marciano told Lanza that he "hated the lousy group of racketeers back in the East. He stated that he himself had been required to turn over 50% of all of his earnings to the syndicate through their go-between in order to divorce himself from all contact with the syndicate. Marciano identified the go-between, of course, as his manager, Al Weil [sic]." Like almost everybody else in boxing during the 1950s, Weill took his orders from Carbo, a gunman for the Lucchese Mafia family, and other hoodlums.
So in this case, at least, Marciano's mooching habits were not unreasonable. After all the times he had paid up to mobsters, perhaps he figured they owed him.
I am Al Weill's stepson and was Rocky Marciano's manager of record from 1949 until 1952. During that time Rocky had some two dozen bouts and was guaranteed two thirds of any money he earned as a fighter. This debunks your claim that Rocky had a contract with my stepfather requiring him to hand over 50% of his earnings.
As Rocky Marciano's sister, I was deeply hurt by William Nack's article. It belonged in some trash magazine, not SI. Rocky was a very gentle, loving, soft-spoken man, exactly like his dad, and we would like to remember him that way.
ELIZABETH MARCIANO COLOMBO
Pete Rose (cont.)
In A Rose Is a Rose (Aug. 16) you quote Pete Rose as claiming that his betting slips showing the results of his wagering on Red games when he was manager of that team are forgeries. This is false. Rose has never produced a shred of evidence to contradict the findings of two distinguished handwriting experts who established beyond any doubt that the wagering results were in his handwriting. He has also never produced any evidence to make his fingerprints, discovered by the FBI, disappear from the betting slips.
JOHN M. DOWD
Baseball's chief investigator in the Rose case
We here in Atlanta enjoyed your story on Greg McMichael (SPORTS PEOPLE, Sept. 20)—he has indeed been a key to the team's success. But nobody got a bigger kick out of the story than another important pitcher on our staff, whose name also happens to be Greg. That's because the picture accompanying the story was of Greg Maddux!
Director of Public Relations
?You're right, we goofed. Here are the two Gregs. The one named McMichael is the one on the right.—ED.