Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Memoirs: Me and the Champ
One evening while waiting for a dinner table in the hotel restaurant, Dad led us into the bar. I followed along with Mom as children are expected to do. The bar was smoky and crowded and I stood there obediently, albeit annoyed and bored with loud, drinking adults flanking me on all sides. Glancing up at Dad, he’s now grinning ear to ear and swiftly walking over to some old guy who was seated at the bar. He shook his hand, “Hi Champ!” I just figured since Dad grew up in Chicago, he just knew this fellow, possibly an old friend who just by chance, happened to be sitting there. He then introduced my mother and me to Rocky. I shook the stranger’s hand while trying to hold on to my autograph doggy.
Rocky Marciano had retired the year before, 1956 as the World Boxing champion after defeating Joe Lewis. He was the only champion to retire undefeated. Dad loved boxing. He referred to them as Prizefights. That was back in the day. I watched with him on the black and white Zenith. Meeting Rocky Marciano didn't mean anything to a five year old until years later. In addition, it wasn’t until years later that I learned another earthy detail about that chance encounter with Champ.
Unbeknownst to me, in 1957 my mother Mille was 39 years old and extremely attractive. In other words, in today’s world she would be a “hot babe”. To me she was just good, ‘ol, overprotective Mom.
My mother is now 91 years old. She vividly (and proudly) remembers the story to which there is really no moral, but I still have his signature on that autograph doggy.