Antonino Rocca

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Antonino Rocca
Antonino Rocca 1956.jpg
Rocca in 1956
Birth name Antonino Biasetton
Born (1921-04-13)13 April 1921[1]
Treviso, Veneto, Italy[1]
Died 15 March 1977(1977-03-15) (aged 55)[2]
New York City, New York, United States
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Antonino Rocca
Argentina Rocca
Billed height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)[3]
Billed weight 224 lb (102 kg)[1]
Billed from Argentina[3]
Trained by Stanislaus Zbyszko[3][1]
Debut 1942[1]
Retired 1976

Antonino Rocca (born Antonino Biasetton, 13 April 1921 – 15 March 1977) was an Italian Argentinian professional wrestler.

Maestro Arturo Toscanini, a professional wrestling fan, was good friends with Rocca.[4]

Rocca was posthumously inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 1995 and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996.[5]

Professional wrestling career

As a soccer and rugby player when he moved to Argentina before World War II, Rocca was known for his unique, acrobatic, off-the-ground, flying wrestling style.[6] He also had a successful tag team career, forming a tandem with Miguel Pérez.

Rocca started his American professional wrestling career in the late 1940s in Texas. He had been trained by former World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion Stanislaus Zbyszko in Argentina. In the early 1950s, he held two regionally recognized World Heavyweight Championships while still headlining nationwide, frequently in territories where other wrestlers were the recognized champions.

Capitol Wrestling Corporation (1949–mid 1970s)

In 1949, Rocca started wrestling in the New York City-area territory for Joseph Raymond "Toots" Mondt, and the Johnston family of promoters, which controlled wrestling at Madison Square Garden and Mondt, who owned Rocca's exclusive contract. The territory had been one of the four largest-grossing areas up until the mid-1930s New York, and would later be run by Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC, now WWE). He is generally considered as the box-office draw that helped bring wrestling back to Madison Square Garden, on a regular basis, for the first time since 1938.[citation needed]

Rocca later formed a tag team with Jose Miguel Pérez in 1957. Together, they captured the NWA Capitol World Tag Team Championship, which was the top tag team title used in the CWC, and like so many other titles, was a regional one. They were never defeated after winning this title, but the appellation was abandoned after about five years. Perez was videotaped with his original championship belt from that title in a 1987 30th anniversary tribute, after Rocca's death.[7]

In 1963, the CWC left the NWA when it was renamed the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). WWE history lists a tournament final to crown the first WWWF World Heavyweight Champion as Buddy Rogers over Rocca on 29 April 1963 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but this tournament is fictitious. Rogers had legitimately held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, but lost that title to Lou Thesz in Toronto earlier in 1963 in a match – and rematch – ignored by the New York City and Chicago promoters.

In 1959 and into 1960, Rocca worked briefly with veteran Kola Kwariani and under Jack Pfefer, controversial promoter and manager, took effective control of the Garden's wrestling office. Kwariani had just broken away from his partnership with Vince McMahon, Sr. Rocca then set the post-World War II record for wrestling-attendance at Madison Square Garden's 49th–50th Street location, drawing 21,950 fans in a singles match against an obscure wrestler named The Amazing Zuma, also known as Argentina Zuma, on 2 January 1960, as reported by The New York Times. This was part of a series of three matches between the two held during a four-month period, when the pair drew, on another night, almost as many fans to the Garden. The Times called the largest turnout of these three matches the all-time record for wrestling attendance at Madison Square Garden, although there is some question whether a Jim Londos-led event in the 1930s drew a few hundred more fans. Rocca had also been provided with new wrestler Bruno Sammartino as a tag team partner. However, when this team failed to sell-out the Garden, the pair was split up to wrestle each other in the hopes that business would pick up, but it did not. Eventually, McMahon Sr. took the New York territory back and built it by first featuring "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers and then, a few years later, the by-then charismatic Sammartino as its champion.

After a demotion, and with the arrival of Buddy Rogers as the featured star at the Garden in 1961, within a few years Rocca left the WWWF and briefly set up a competing promotion (supported by Jim Crockett, Sr. and others) based at the Sunnyside arena in Queens, New York. It is believed to have failed and it ceased operations.

In the mid-1970s, he teamed up with Vince McMahon to handle the color commentary on the WWWF's weekly television show. He provided color commentary on WWF Championship Wrestling and All-Star Wrestling from 1972-76.

Appearances in Japan

Rocca was involved as a professional wrestler, but also as a referee in Japan during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He refereed a number of matches for the Japan Pro Wrestling Association (JPA), and later followed Antonio Inoki to New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1972. Inoki (born Kanji) was said to take his stage name from him.

World Wrestling Council (1973–1976)

There is not much information on where Rocca worked in the following ten years, but it is known that in 1973, he joined the World Wrestling Council (WWC) in Puerto Rico with partner Miguel Pérez. They captured the defunct WWC North American Tag Team Championship on 11 September 1976 by defeating Los Infernos. They lost the championship to Higo Hamaguchi and Gordon Nelson on 16 October.

Gorilla Monsoon vs. André the Giant

On February 25, 1977, in his last days, Rocca appeared in the WWWF, officiating a boxing match between Gorilla Monsoon and André the Giant at the Madison Square Garden.

Death

Rocca died on 15 March 1977, at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City after complications following a urinary infection. His funeral was attended by thousands and made the front page of New York newspapers.[2]

In popular culture

  • Rocca was depicted wrestling Superman on the cover of the Superman No. 155 (August 1962) comic book.
  • The 1976 horror film Alice, Sweet Alice, featuring child actress Brooke Shields, includes Rocca in a bit part.

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Argentina Rocca Profile". Online World Of Wrestling. Archived from the original on 23 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  2. ^ a b "Antonino Rocca Dies At 56". Classic Wrestling Articles. Classic Wrestling Articles. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Antonino Rocca bio". WWE. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  4. ^ "Argentina Rocca Chapter 60". Daily News (New York). 2003-05-04. Retrieved 2012-05-16. 
  5. ^ "Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame". Wrestling-Titles.com. 
  6. ^ Greg Oliver and Steve Johnson (2005). "Antonio Rocca and Miguel Pérez". The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams. ECW Press. pp. 128–133. ISBN 978-1-5502-2683-6. 
  7. ^ "Jose Miguel Perez celebra su 30 aniversario de campeonato". YouTube (in Spanish). 5 Jun 2008. 
  8. ^ "Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame (1948–1990) (2003)". 

External links

  • Antonino Rocca on WWE.com
  • Wrestling Museum profile
  • Antonino Rocca's profile at Cagematch.net, Wrestlingdata.com, Internet Wrestling Database
  • Antonino Rocca on IMDb
Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Antonino_Rocca&oldid=812898842"
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonino_Rocca
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Antonino Rocca"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA