Home > Memories > Don Cockell v Rocky Marciano

Don Cockell v Rocky Marciano

British boxer Don Cockell’s fight with world champion Rocky Marciano took place on the 16th of May 1955 and there was a lot of money riding on it: forget seamy gambling dens on both sides of the Atlantic and focus on the Ushaw Moor County School  playground a day or two before the fight. The author of this piece, bad boy Wilf, bet young and blond John Vasey sixpence that Marciano would retain his world title. He did and John paid up. Sixpence then is worth about 50 pence now and  would  enable me to buy the best part of a standard bar of Cadbury’s chocolate or twenty per cent of a pint of beer. Not life changing then, but fun.

From what I can gather Cockell won the first round and lost the subseqent eight. A technical knockout finished it. Cockell was a worthy fighter and this is confirmed by his record of 81 fights 66 wins [38 by knockout] 1 draw and 14 defeats.

Many youngsters were enthralled by the sports stars of those days; I for one can recall getting up at four in the morning to glue myself to the radio so as to listen to England’s test match progress in Australia. I can still recall the names of many of my cricketing heroes of those days, for example Peter May, Colin Cowdrey, Trevor Bailey and Frank Tyson. I cannot name many of the current team’s players, apart from Collingwood, Anderson and one or two others. Most of us were innocent then: we woke up feeling excited about the day and whether it was sunny, rainy, or a sea of snow, we were up for it. These days I sometimes [but not always] find it difficult to recapture that feeling of excitement, largely because the reality of this troubled world is not far from the forefront of my mind.

The reality is that there is much corruption and I suspect it might be many times  more in excess of what I currently imagine it to be. I am old enough to be aware that I am virtually powerless against the fundamental injustices of this planet but big enough to know that I must not capitultate without putting up a few chosen fights against injustice. These days it is not just a case of a silver sixpence on Rocky Marciano, rather a protest against the worst excesses of religion, politics and miscelleneous grubby and unsavoury groups and individuals.   So when I am invited to give a talk, on this or that, I will say my piece, hopefully with a measure of dignity and an absence of rant. The occasional letter to my MP will be fired off, if I am really livid; the last one, concerning an ambulance industrial dispute,  must have been twenty years ago so ‘obsessional’  is not the right word for my letter writing record to date!


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