A History of the Golden Age of Italian Americans in Boxing 1900–1955
by Rolando Vitale
The Real Rockys: A History of the Golden Age of Italian Americans in Boxing 1900–1955 is the first book length study to explore the history of Italian Americans in boxing. It is a fascinating collection of sociological essays and detailed appendices, examining the role and achievements of the Italian American prizefighter. From humble immigrant origins through to the struggle for assimilation in America, the story reveals that during the most intense inter-ethnic rivalry in boxing Italian Americans captured the greatest proportion of world titles and produced the highest number of championship contenders. Yet the outside world was oblivious to this remarkable success with his Italian identity usually hidden under an appropriated Irish moniker. Whilst most people only remember the illustrious names of Rocky Marciano, Jake La Motta and Rocky Graziano, a fact often overlooked, is that there were over 50 Italian American champions and recognized title claimants during this period when boxing vied with baseball as America’s most popular sport. For the first time these heroes and hard men are acknowledged for the contribution they made to American sports.
The paperback book is now available from www.ypdbooks.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.waterstones.co.uk at £19.99. It is also available from www.amazon.com at $34.99. The kindle and ePub electronic versions of the book can also be purchased via amazon worldwide.
Praise for the book
“An engrossing and meticulously researched book… I can highly recommend it”
Colin Hart, 2011 Boxing Writers Association of America award winner & columnist for The Sun daily newspaper, (UK)
“The Real Rockys is a masterful, methodical and meticulous literary achievement… Your book should be regarded and referenced as the “Bible” of Italian American boxing history.”
Vincent Colitti, boxing historian
You do not have to be Italian to enjoy The Real Rockys. In fact, you do not even have to be a boxing fan. This well written book accurately describes a colorful and fascinating chapter of American immigrant history with emphasis on the tremendous contribution of Italian American boxers to the sport. Few boxing books have been so thoroughly researched and richly detailed. The Real Rockys is the gift that keeps on giving… The book is a treasure trove of information heretofore unavailable anywhere else in one volume—or in any volume for that matter. This is a book that should occupy an honored space on every fight fan’s book shelf.
Mike Silver, author of The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science (2008)
“Rolando Vitale has put together an amazing compilation of fights, facts, figures, biographies, names, champions and claimants in his book. Very impressive are several personal interviews. Some facts and records are well known. Others are obscure. But they are all there in 446 pages of meticulous research. This book is a must for any library or collection.”
Angelo Prospero, boxing historian and writer and New York State Boxing Hall of Fame inductee
“With a real genius for Italian history and Italian American fighters, Rolando Vitale’s erudite and thoughtful book is aimed at followers of what A. J. Liebling called “the milling art” and readers who appreciate clear, informative writing. As evidenced in the book’s nine chapters and 21 inclusive appendices, Vitale’s research is extensive.”
Roger Zotti, author of Friday Night World: A Tribute to Fighters of the 1950s
“The Real Rockys is an exhaustive compilation of research on the history of Italian Americans in boxing. Few books will give you such an in-depth, interesting and generally well written overview of the contribution Italian Americans made during boxing’s golden age – 1900-1955.”
Dan Cuoco, editor and publisher of International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO) Journal
“The Real Rockys is a not only an encyclopaedic history of Italian American boxers during the golden age of the sport, it is also a fascinating social history focused on immigration and the progress of immigrants as they made their way navigating the promises and hopes that the United States held for them.”
Bobby Franklin, Boston Post-Gazette
“With the knowledge of a seasoned scholar, Vitale writes with the clarity of a good journalist, making each chapter worthy of publication in places like Sports Illustrated…The result is a valuable treasure of information that’s worth its weight on your bookshelf.”
Fred Gardaphe, Distinguished Professor of English and Italian American Studies, City University of New York
“The book is a gold mine for someone who seeks historical information about boxers of Italian-American descent and how boxing has played a role in the process of acculturation and acceptance of Italian-Americans by the larger society . . . Vitale’s book is a must read for sports historians, especially for those interested in ethnic contribution to American sport. But more important, it is a valid addition to the sources available to Italians who want to know who they were and who they are.”
Carmelo Bazzano, Professor Emeritus of Physical Education, University of Massachusetts
“Almost anything anyone would like to know about the Italian American boxer is contained here. I can’t imagine a more comprehensive treatment of the subject as reference for the aficionado, the casual fan, or as raw material for the ethnic researcher. Inclusiveness is the manuscript’s greatest virtue . . . It is a most detailed and well-done sports record book with lively writing about Italian American passages and comprehensive statistics that should appeal to both Italian American and boxing audiences and their overlap.”
Christian K. Messenger, Professor of English, University of Illinois and author of The Godfather and American Culture: How the Corleones Became “Our Gang” (2002).
“The Real Rockys is a perfect choice for sports historians or anyone interested in how Italian Americans have contributed to boxing”
Italian Tribune newspaper
“Vitale traces the rise of the Italian American boxer by exploring the social and historical conditions that all Italian Americans confronted and overcame.”
Dona De Sanctis, editor Italian America Magazine
“Vitale’s book is a thoroughly informative and enjoyable read for the casual boxing fan as well as anyone interested in the socio-economic history of the United States. It is a must read for the true boxing fan and it is an excellent reference book that should be included in every sports library.”
Italian American Digest
“Heads up, sports and boxing fans, Rolando Vitale has written a barnburner of a history of Italian American boxers… His statistics, flurry of facts and detailed charts go the distance.”
Don Oldenburg, editor of National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) Ambassador magazine
“An excellent approach to boxing history.”
Don S. Cogswell, co-author of UnCrowned Champions and President of International Boxing Research Organization
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