A tribute to Rocky Marciano’s legendary boxing trainer, Allie Colombo, will be held tomorrow night at Joe Angelo’s Café in Brockton.
Both Marciano (49-0, 43 KOs), who retired in 1956 as the only undefeated heavyweight champion in boxing history, and Colombo were born and raised in “The City of Champions” and they became friends at a young age.
“The Brockton Blockbuster,” a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame who was selected fighter of the year by Ring Magazine on three separate occasions, was a terrific athlete and he particularly flourished on the baseball diamond during his youth.
However, Marciano eventually decided to quit baseball because he wanted to focus all of his efforts on the sport of boxing.
Colombo observed Marciano as he trained and sparred and he knew that “The Rock” could develop into an elite prizefighter if he was correctly mentored.
“He (Colombo) devoted his life to Rocky,” Brockton native Denis Marrese said of Colombo. “He knew Rocky had the ability and he wrote letters to promoters once Rocky got into boxing. He knew.”
In January 1969, Colombo tragically died at the age of 49 in an industrial accident on a loading dock where he was employed.
In a sad twist of irony, Marciano was killed only seven months later on the eve of his 46th birthday when a private plane that he was a passenger in struck a tree near a small airfield outside Newton, Iowa.
Before Marciano’s terrible misfortune occurred, the great pugilist raved about Colombo as both his friend and trainer.
“It was Allie’s contention that I could make it very big in the professional ranks, so we talked it over together and decided to give it a try,” recalled Marciano, who Ring Magazine ranked as the twelfth greatest fighter of the last 80 years in 2002.
“Allie was a real buddy. He kept my interest in boxing alive through all the difficult moments. Prize fighting is a very serious business, but Allie was very witty and when we got too serious he’d use his sense of humor to relax the atmosphere.”
Veteran boxing trainer Roger “Pit” Perron will serve as master of ceremonies at Saturday’s celebration for Colombo.
“He (Colombo) was a real easy going, laid-back kind of guy, easy to talk to and willing to talk anytime,” said Perron, 73, also a product of Brockton who managed to defeat bladder cancer in 2004.
In order to be admitted, all attendants must purchase a ticket for $25 and they will be served a hot and cold buffet by Chef Henry Tartaglia.
All proceeds collected from the event will be utilized to pay for a statute of Colombo.
Ideally, the statue of Colombo will be situated near a bronze sculpture of Marciano where it will overlook Rocky Marciano Stadium at Brockton High School.
“Allie did something great for this city,” said Marrese. “He never forgot about Brockton and we shouldn’t forget about Allie. He did something great for all of us. He discovered raw talent in a guy named Rocky Marciano.”
“The Brockton Blockbuster” was once quoted as saying, “I don’t want to be remembered as a beaten champion.”
Ultimately, Marciano would never be “remembered as a beaten champion.”
In many ways, Allie Colombo helped make Rocky Marciano the athletic icon that he is today.
*Tribute to Allie Colombo
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Joe Angelo’s Café
11 Crescent St., Brockton, MA
For more information, go to www.rocky49wins.com or call 508-509-3236
*Listen to Roger “Pit” Perron on the Marciano-Tartaglia Show Friday nights from 5-7 PM on 1460 AM (WXBR)
To call into the show, dial 508-586-1460 anytime between the aforementioned hours.
*Cappiello Brothers Boxing gym is located on 162 Main Street in Brockton, Massachusetts (02301).