a story from swansea..

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"One night he got himself in a brawl in Swansea’s Wind Street in a bodega grill and he was nearly arrested.

His story was that on being provoked by a group of Australian soldiers with the words: ‘Yanks – you’re overpaid, over-sexed – and over here.’ He had knocked out three of them.

Next thing, as Gl Rocco was later to describe it he got in another brawl in a South Wales valleys miners pub, swapping blows with a Welsh miner who he described as ‘Big as Tommy Farr’.

And this time the ‘Snow Drops’, the US military police, were called in – they were known as Snow Drops because their US soldier steel helmets were painted white. Rocco was threatened with court martial.

‘But that’ll make us one lorry driver short for D-Day,’ protested his US commander at the GI camp in Morriston near Swansea.

A solution was hit upon. Rocco was ordered to take up amateur boxing in the clubs around Swansea.

When Rocco went home again to Brockton. Massachusetts when the war was over and back to his job as boot repairer, he changed his name to Rocky Marciano. And decided to turn professional.

‘They’ve closed down that lovely Mumbles Train.’ bewailed Rocky Marciano. ‘Why, I used to ride on that into Swansea many a morning. I was stationed down there in Swansea and we were billeted on Mumbles Pier and we had to sleep on straw palliases.’

‘It all started for me down there in Wales,’ he said. ‘Wales has always had that great prize-fighting tradition and from that I took my inspiration. I used to get the Mumbles Train into Swansea and get off at Rutland Street in the centre of the town and make for a gym that a Welsh heavyweight called Jim Wilde used to run just by Swansea railway station. No – not Jimmy Wilde. That was a much lighter guy from an earlier time, I used to call in at Swansea market and eat some of that hot laver bread that Welsh people cook out of seaweed, would anybody believe it. We don’t have anything like that in the States
.’ "