The Real Rockys: A History of the Golden Age of Italian Americans in Boxing 1900–1955 is the first book 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. A fact often overlooked is that there were over 50 Italian American champions and recognized title claimants from this period. For the first time these heroes and hard men are acknowledged for the contribution they made to American sports.
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"The Real Rockys is not only an encyclopedic 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... While this book covers much of the immigrant experience, it is also a treasure trove for boxing fans. The author has done exhaustive research into many aspects of boxing history, and the second half is like an encyclopedia filled with facts." - Bobby Franklin, Boston Post-Gazette
"The Real Rockys is a masterful, methodical and meticulous literary achievement... The book should be regarded and referenced as the "Bible" of Italian American boxing history." - Vincent Colitti, boxing historian
“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).