'Unbeaten is one of the best sports books I’ve read in years' Jonathan Eig, author of Ali: A Life
Rocky Marciano accomplished a feat that eluded legendary champions like Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Muhammad Ali, and Mike Tyson: he never lost a professional fight. When he retired in 1956, his record was a perfect 49-0.
Unbeaten is the revelatory biography of one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Marciano rose from abject poverty and a life of petty crime to become heavyweight champion and one of the most famous faces of his era. He dominated boxing in the decade following the Second World War with a devastating punch, which he nicknamed the ‘Suzie Q’.
But perfection came at a price.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Mike Stanton tells the story of Marciano’s pursuit of greatness through the era of guys and dolls, hustlers and gamblers, glamorous celebrities and notorious mobsters. But boxing had its dark side, particularly at a time when Mafia mob bosses like Blinky Palermo and Frankie Carbo wielded immense power behind the scenes.
Marciano retired while still in his prime, weighed down by the mob’s influence in the sport he loved. For the last decade of his life, he wandered America, disillusioned, untrusting, hiding his money, cheating on his wife, consorting with the mobsters he had loathed for corrupting his sport, until his death in a plane crash in 1969, the night before his 46th birthday.
Unbeaten by Mike Stanton is the story of a remarkable champion, a sport that was rotten to its core, and a country that may have expected too much from its heroes.
In the media
Unbeaten is one of the best sports books I’ve read in years. It’s an irresistible story told with beautiful writing and a keen eye for detail. Like Rocky Marciano, this book hits hard and won’t be easily put down
Jonathan Eig, author of Ali: A Life
In Unbeaten, Mike Stanton aims to bring the legend to life for a new generation. He delivers a meticulously researched and eminently readable account of the only heavyweight champion who exited a savage sport with a perfect professional record ? 49-0 with 43 knockouts, 26 of them in the first three rounds. . . . [He] does a deft and detailed job of recreating Marciano’s journey through a violent and venal profession, with a direct style that pulls no punches.
The Boston Globe
It’s an amazing story, and it was an amazing era, and it’s all captured brilliantly...Stanton is so good at describing the shadowy boxing world of Providence in the late 1940s and early ’50s you can almost smell the cigar smoke. For Unbeaten is far more than just a sports book, or even a biography of an iconic American sports figure. It’s a book about a certain time and place, an extremely well done book about a slice of American life that too rarely gets written about.
This meticulously documented and well-written work should stand for both fans and scholars as Marciano's definitive biography.
Library Journal (starred review)