The Life and Career of Rocky Graziano

Ernest Barbella earned his bachelor’s degree from the Bernard Baruch School of Business at the City College of New York, and then accepted a full scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in food marketing and agricultural economics at Cornell University. In the years since, he has risen through the ranks in the grocery business, ultimately becoming vice president and general manager for the New York region of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P). Ernest Barbella was not the first of his family to climb through the ranks to achieve success, though. Thomas Rocco Barbella also rose to fame and fortune in his chosen field, although he was far better known by his professional name, Rocky Graziano.

Hailed as one of boxing’s greatest knockout artists, Rocky Graziano grew up fighting on the streets of New York City’s Little Italy. Graziano disdained authority, both in school and later in the Army, where he punched a captain and went AWOL. Although he also disdained the discipline of regular training, he found boxing to be a convenient way to make money.

In the 10 years of his professional career, Graziano compiled a record of 67 wins, 52 by knockout, against 10 losses and 6 draws. He won the welterweight championship in his second bout with Tony Zale in 1947, and lost it back to Zale in their third bout, in 1948. After retiring from the ring, he went on to a successful career in entertainment, restaurants, and the art world.

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