Antonino Rocca

Last updated
Antonino Rocca
Antonino Rocca 1956.jpg
Rocca in 1956
Birth nameAntonino Biasetton
Born(1921-04-13)13 April 1921 [1]
Treviso, Veneto, Italy [1]
Died15 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 height6 ft 0 in (183 cm) [3]
Billed weight224 lb (102 kg) [1]
Billed from Argentina [3]
Trained by Stanislaus Zbyszko [3] [1]
Debut1942 [1]

Antonino Rocca (born Antonino Biasetton, 13 April 1921 – 15 March 1977) was an Italian Argentinian professional wrestler. He tag teamed with partner Miguel Pérez. He 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. [4]

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Italian Alps and surrounded by several islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and traversed along its length by the Apennines, Italy has a largely temperate seasonal climate. The country covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and shares open land borders with France, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.

Argentina Federal republic in South America

Argentina, officially the Argentine Republic, is a country located mostly in the southern half of South America. Sharing the bulk of the Southern Cone with Chile to the west, the country is also bordered by Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, Brazil to the northeast, Uruguay and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Drake Passage to the south. With a mainland area of 2,780,400 km2 (1,073,500 sq mi), Argentina is the eighth-largest country in the world, the fourth largest in the Americas, and the largest Spanish-speaking nation. The sovereign state is subdivided into twenty-three provinces and one autonomous city, Buenos Aires, which is the federal capital of the nation as decided by Congress. The provinces and the capital have their own constitutions, but exist under a federal system. Argentina claims sovereignty over part of Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

Professional wrestling entertainment form that mimics contact sports

Professional wrestling is a form of performance art and entertainment that combines athletics with theatrical performance. It takes the form of events, held by touring companies, that mimic a title-match combat sport. The unique form of sport portrayed is fundamentally based on classical and "catch" wrestling, with modern additions of striking attacks, strength-based holds and throws and acrobatic maneuvers. Much of these derive from the influence of various international martial arts. An additional aspect of combat with improvised weaponry is sometimes included to varying degrees.


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. [5] 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.

World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship (original version) First professional wrestling world heavyweight championship

The World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship was the first recognized professional wrestling world heavyweight championship created in 1905 to identify the best catch as catch can wrestler in the world.

Stanislaus Zbyszko Polish strongman and professional wrestler

Jan Stanisław Cyganiewicz, better known by the ring name Stanislaus Zbyszko, was a Polish strongman and professional wrestler — a two-time World Heavyweight Champion at his highest profile in the United States during the 1920s. The surname Zbyszko was only a nickname, which was given him by friends due to his bravery when he was a child; it was the name of a fictional medieval Polish knight from the historical novel The Knights of the Cross by Henryk Sienkiewicz. He was the brother of Wladek Zbyszko.

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).

Toots Mondt American professional wrestler and promoter

Joseph Raymond "Toots" Mondt was an American professional wrestler and promoter who revolutionized the wrestling industry in the early to mid-1920s and co-promoted the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Some of the stars Mondt helped create from the 1920s through the 1960s included Wayne Munn, Jim Londos, Antonino Rocca, Bruno Sammartino, Stu Hart and Cowboy Bill Watts.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd. was an American entertainment company founded by Jess McMahon and Toots Mondt. Operating as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC), the company was originally a professional wrestling and boxing promotion and later became the sanctioning body for the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). The Capitol Wrestling Corporation is the precursor to today's WWE, run by Jess' grandson, Vince McMahon.

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. [6]

Tag team Team of multiple professional wrestlers

Tag team wrestling is a type of professional wrestling in which matches are contested between teams of multiple wrestlers. A tag team may be made up of wrestlers who normally wrestle in singles competition, but more commonly are made of established teams who wrestle regularly as a unit and have a team name and identity.

Miguel Pérez (wrestler) Puerto Rican professional wrestler

Miguel José Pérez was a Puerto Rican professional wrestler who was best known for his tag team with Antonino Rocca.

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.

Buddy Rogers (wrestler) American professional wrestler

Herman Gustav Rohde Jr., better known by the ring name Buddy Rogers, was an American professional wrestler.

Rio de Janeiro Second-most populous municipality in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, or simply Rio, is anchor to the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area and the second-most populous municipality in Brazil and the sixth-most populous in the Americas. Rio de Janeiro is the capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's third-most populous state. Part of the city has been designated as a World Heritage Site, named "Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea", by UNESCO on 1 July 2012 as a Cultural Landscape.

Brazil Federal republic in South America

Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the fifth most populous. Its capital is Brasília, and its most populated city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states, the Federal District, and the 5,570 municipalities. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas; it is also one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse nations, due to over a century of mass immigration from around the world.

In 1959 and into 1960, Rocca worked briefly with Kola Kwariani and under Jack Pfefer, 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. 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.

Kola Kwariani Georgia-born American professional wrestler and chess player

Kola Kwariani, known by the ring name Nicholas Kwariani or Nick the Wrestler, was a Georgian professional wrestler and chess player.

Jack Pfefer American wrestling promoter

Jack Pfefer Russian American was a professional wrestling promoter during the early-to-mid 1900s. He pioneered an earlier form of sports entertainment, as he was one of the first promoters to visualize the pro wrestling business in the mold of theater. However, he developed an infamous reputation when he exposed the sport's inner secrets to the mainstream press in a spiteful attack that nearly destroyed the entire industry.

Bruno Sammartino Italian-born American professional wrestler

Bruno Leopoldo Francesco Sammartino was an Italian-born American professional wrestler, best known for his work with the World Wrestling Federation. There, he held the WWF World Heavyweight Championship for more than 11 years across two reigns, the first of which is the longest single reign in the promotion's history at 2,803 days.

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. 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.


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.

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.

Other media

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.

Personal life

Maestro Arturo Toscanini, a professional wrestling fan, was good friends with Rocca. [7]

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]

Championships and accomplishments

A Jacksonville, Florida poster advertises Rocca Antonino Rocca poster.jpg
A Jacksonville, Florida poster advertises Rocca

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Argentina Rocca Profile". Online World Of Wrestling. Archived from the original on 23 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-21.
  2. 1 2 "Antonino Rocca Dies At 56". Classic Wrestling Articles. Classic Wrestling Articles. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 "Antonino Rocca bio". WWE . Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  4. "Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame".
  5. 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.
  6. "Jose Miguel Perez celebra su 30 aniversario de campeonato". YouTube (in Spanish). 5 Jun 2008.
  7. "Argentina Rocca Chapter 60". Daily News (New York). 2003-05-04. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
  8. "Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame (1948–1990) (2003)".