Tony Bennett: "Rocky Marciano was retired at the time - this must have been '64 or '65 so he'd been retired seven or eight years - and Rocky and I had been friends for a while and we were in a favourite hotel of ours in Miami. Rocky said to me, 'I want to get back in shape. I want to fight this guy Cassius Clay.' Well, Rocky was nearly 40 years old, but he didn't like Clay, I think he really didn't understand where he was coming from. Rocky was this very patriotic and humble guy in many ways, and Clay at that time was the opposite.
So he's saying, 'I'm going to get back in shape. I'm going to take him on.' And I said, 'Rocky, don't do that. You retired the undefeated champion of the world. You never lost a fight. You're going to have a beautiful life now, you never have to fight again.' Rocky said, 'Well, I don't like this guy. He breaks all the rules and he is just unethical.' I talked to Rocky for an hour. I said, 'Don't you dare try to get back in shape for this guy. Can you imagine losing after winning all those fights and retiring with an unbeaten record? You'd have to whip yourself into some shape to beat this kid. This kid is great.' And I meant that, because I thought and still think Ali was wonderful, both in and out of the ring.
"I guess Rocky was mad because he knew he could never fight Clay. Which was perhaps as well, at that time, because I loved 'The Rock' but I think he didn't need it and I'm not sure he would have won that fight."
'Get the hell outta here,' Rocky said, 'I can beat this kid.' And he told me how strong he still was, because Rocky was an immensely strong fighter - he didn't have a lot of finesse, but my goodness this guy was strong and could punch. So again I said, 'You're doing the wrong thing. You have a great life. You have free time to spend with your family and lots of endorsements. Forget the whole thing.' So I leave the room and I go out for a while, and when I get back Rocky isn't there. So I go up to the exercise solarium which they had on the roof to look for him, and they had this sandbag which was fastened to the wall, which was kinda like a heavy punch bag. Anyway it wasn't there anymore, the bolts had come loose and the sandbag was about ten feet away on the floor, and there was dust on the floor and everything.
Two of Rocky's friends were up there and I said, "What the hell happened? Where is Rocky?' They both shrugged and said, 'I don't know. He came up here real mad about an hour ago and punched that thing and broke the wall.' I guess Rocky was mad because he knew he could never fight Clay. Which was perhaps as well, at that time, because I loved 'The Rock' but I think he didn't need it and I'm not sure he would have won that fight."
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