There is a long tradition of Italian-American sportsmen in all avenues of American sport. And the peculiar thing about this is that most of the sports they achieved success in are not particularly that popular in Italy. In fact, some sports such as baseball are not even played in Italy.
But the fact is most of these sportsmen and sportswomen are second and third generation Italian-Americans and not new immigrants from Italy. It is true that the migrants from Italy at first found it hard to adjust to certain practices that were in-bedded in American culture, such as baseball, football and boxing. But it was not too long before they embraced American sport and started playing. In this blog we take a look at the most famous of Italian-Americans and what they achieved.
There have been songs sang and films made about the famous Joe DiMaggio, and he even married the most famous Hollywood film star of all time, Marilyn Monroe. But first and foremost this great Italian-American was a true sportsman. Joe DiMaggio was one of the finest baseball players that there has even been, he won the World Series an amazing nine times, and still holds the record for the longest hitting steak at an amazing fifty six games. A feat that will never be beaten.
During his glittering career he stayed loyal to the New York Yankees, and during his thirteen years with this famous old Major League Baseball club he won MVP three times and helped the team to achieve ten American Pennants.
Another Italian-American sporting legend is Joe Montana who was one of the finest quarterbacks to have ever played American Football. He was known as Joe Cool and played in the NFL for fourteen seasons for the San Francisco 49ers and also a further two seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs. His time with the 49ers was his most successful and he won the Superbowl an incredible four times. Being named as MVP in three of the finals. Joe Montana still holds two Super Bowl records, the all-time highest ranking for a quarterback at 127.8 and the most passes without being intercepted at 122.
The list of achievements that Joe Montana achieved are too long to actually list but among them in 1999 ESPN nominated Montana as the twenty fifth greatest athlete of the 20th Century, and the same year he was recognized by the Sporting News as the third best player in Football’s Hundred Greatest Players.
No other fighter remained unbeaten during their whole boxing careers, but Rocky Marciano did. Of his forty-nine professional fights, Marciano won them all, and 43 were straight knock out’s. His career was immortalized in the epic film Raging Bull in which another famous Italian-American played the lead role, Robert Di Nero.
His boxing record is almost beyond compare and he held the heavyweight title for four years between 1952 to 1956. His style was merciless and relenting, Marciano also had immense stamina and could punch like a mule. His record of knockout-to-win percentage still remains a heavyweight boxing record. In part two we look at even more great Italian-American athletes.