The Rocky Marciano Rookie Card and Other Vintage Cards
Rocky Marciano Rookie Card
The 1951 Ringside Rocky Marciano card #32 is the only card that can fairly be considered a Rocky Marciano rookie, but there is still a good variety of Rocky Marciano cards that were made in the 1950s and beyond. In this post, I’ll cover the 1951 Ringside card along with a couple of other 1950s Marciano from non-sport sets. Lastly, I’ll show you a late 1960s Italian card from a card maker that is prominent in the US hobby today but was largely unknown to many collectors until the last decade.
1951 Ringside Rocky Marciano Card #32
Boxing Cards have never enjoyed the popularity in the sports card collecting hobby in the same way that baseball, football, basketball, and hockey cards have. For that reason, the frequency of sets has been inconsistent and the concept of a rookie card is a little bit foreign. That said, Rocky Marciano’s first card, which is considered his rookie, was the 1951 Topps Ringside card #32. Rocky’s first professional boxing match was in 1947 and his professional boxing record at the time this card was printed stood at 37-0, so you can see how his rookie boxing card is a little different than in other sports.
Although boxing cards aren’t as widely collected, this particular card (along with several others from the 1951 Ringside set) is highly collectible and quite valuable. There are a few factors that make the card the most expensive and sought after card in the set:
- Rocky’s first card: There are other huge stars in the 1951 Topps set, but some of the biggest stars had already been featured on other cards. Joe Louis was in the 1938 F.C. Cartledge Famous Prize Fighters Boxing set and in the 1948 Leaf, but the 1951 Topps card #32 is the earliest Marciano card available.
- A Rare Undefeated Fighter: Almost all fighters suffer a loss at some point in their career, but Rocky Marciano never did. He stepped away from the sport in 1955 after a hard-fought victory over Archie Moore and resisted any temptation to lace the gloves back up and fight again. Rocky’s undefeated record coupled with his victories over Hall-of-Fame fighters ensures that his name is frequently mentioned in debates about the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time.
- A Real-Life Rocky: Rocky Marciano’s popularity as a boxer was greatly aided by his fighting style. Much like the Rocky we saw on movie screens in the 70s and 80s, Marciano had an all-action style that was very crowd-pleasing. Fans paying money to watch Rocky Marciano fight knew that a boring stick and move match was unlikely to take place. This made him one of the most popular heavyweight boxers in history, which adds to the collectability of his cards. It’s a popular misconception that the Rocky movies, starring Sylvester Stallone, were inspired by Rocky Marciano. The story in the movie Rocky was inspired by a journeyman fighter from the 1970s who went toe-to-toe – but ultimately came up short, in a match against the great Muhammad Ali. Rocky Marciano was mentioned in the movie and makes an appearance on a poster in the background.
The 1951 Topps Ringside set is easily one of the best sets of boxing cards ever produced. The set consisted of 96 cards broken up into two series of 48 cards each. They are a little smaller than traditional cards, measuring 2 1/16 x 2 15/16. While it’s fair to consider it a boxing set, it should be noted that it included a few professional wrestlers including Gene Stanlee and Chief Don Eagle.
- Year: 1951
- Manufacturer: Topps
- Card no: #32 of 96
- Set Name: 1951 Ringside
Front of the card
The front of the Rocky Marciano 1951 Ringside card (#32) featured a full-color illustration with a white border. The picture is framed by a thin black line that separates the illustration from the white border. The card has a horizontal layout and in the photo, Rocky Marciano is wearing gloves and working out with a speed bag. His name and weight class (heavyweight) are in a white box near the bottom center of the card. In this set, boxers who were champions at the time of printing have more intricate nameplates. At the time this card was printed Rocky Marciano had a record of 37-0, but he would not become the World Heavyweight champion until his 43rd fight when he defeated Jersey Joe Walcott by a 13th round knockout.
Shop for the 1951 Topps Ringside Rocky Marciano rookie card on eBay (affiliate link), because it’s the only Rocky Mariano rookie card.
Back of the card
The back of the Rocky Marciano 1951 Ringside card (#32) card has a vertical layout. The card number is in the upper left corner inside a boxing glove image. Rocky’s name, weight class, place and date of birth, and height/weight are at the top of the card. The only other text on the card was Marciano’s record (Bouts: 37 Won: 37: Knockouts: 32) and a biographical blurb.
This heavyweight from the shoe town of Brockton got his boxing start in the Golden Gloves. In high school he was the football team’s center and a catcher on the baseball squad. In 1946 had a tryout with the Chicago Cubs. Spent 4 years in the U.S. Army. Served in Europe with the 348th Amphibious Division. Broke his left hand in the Army boxing tournament. Is a good puncher with either hand. Correct name: Rocco Marchegiano.1951 Topps Ringside Card #32
Rocky Marciano Rookie Card Value
The Rocky Marciano rookie card is one of the most valuable boxing cards made in the 1950s and one of the most recognizable cards ever made. The chart below was pulled from the PSA website on 09/24/2021. It shows prices for the Rocky Marciano rookie card in various conditions.
Keep in mind that prices fluctuate. While PSA is a great way to find out the value of a card, we recommend going to eBay to see what cards are currently selling for on the world’s most popular auction site. Click here to view current auctions for the 1951 Topps Ringside Rocky Marciano rookie card #32.
Other Relevant Rocky Marciano Cards
The 1951 Topps Ringside Rocky Marciano card (#32) is the only card in the hobby that is a Rocky Marciano rookie because it was released three years before the next Marciano card. However, there are a few other Rocky Marciano cards from the 1950s and one from the 1960s that are worth discussing.
1954 Topps Scoop “Marciano K.O.’s Walcott” #65
Rocky Marciano was featured in the 1954 Topps Scoop set. This set was not a sports card set, but rather a “news” set of cards that presents historical events in the style of newspaper articles. The set, like the 1951 Topps Ringside set, measured a little smaller than traditional cards at Released in two series, each with 78 cards, 1954 Topps Scoops are much smaller than traditional trading cards. Each measures 2 1/16″ x 2 15/16″. The set has a total of 154 yards and only a few of them a related to sports events.
Shop for the 1954 Topps Scoops “Marciano K.O.’s Walcott” on eBay (affiliate link), because you get two Hall of Famers on the same card.
1956 Adventure Rocky Marciano #44
The 1956 Adventure set was released by Gum Products and, like the Scoop set above, is mostly a non-sport set. However, there are quite a few sports cards sprinkled in the 100 card set. Of those, it’s the boxing cards that have received the most attention from collectors and carry the most value. This set features artwork on the front, not an actual photo, and a general blurb on the back. This set is not one of the better sets of the period, but the Marciano card remains valuable. It, along with the Topps Scoop Marciano card, are good options to get a less expensive early Rocky Marciano card.
Shop for the 1956 Rocky Marciano Adventure Card on eBay (affiliate link)
1967-68 Panini Campioni Dello Sport #481 (Italian)
The 1967-68 Campioni Dello Sport Rocky Marciano sticker is from a large multi-sport sticker set. These stickers were sold alongside a sticker album with a spot for each sticker, much like the Topps sticker albums of the 1980s. This set included boxers, cyclists, race car drivers, and more. The text on the sticker and the peel-away back is in Italian.
Shop for the 1967-68 Panini Campioni Dell Sport on eBay (affiliate link), because who else has a 1967 Panini sticker?
Rocky Marciano Legacy
Rocky Marciano is one of the top heavyweight boxers of all time and almost always makes the top ten lists compiled by boxing historians. He retired from boxing as the Heavyweight Champion with an undefeated record of 49-0. Here are some of his many accomplishments as a professional boxer.
- Retired with an undefeated record of 49-0
- Successfully defended the World Heavyweight Championship 6 times
- Defeated four Hall-of-Fame fighters during his career
- Joe Louis
- Ezzard Charles
- Joe Walcott
- Archie Moore
- Highest knockout percentage of any heavyweight Champion (87.76%)
- Named 6th Greatest Heavyweight Champion by Ring Magazine in 1998
- Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990
At a time with boxing was a much more popular sport in American than it is today, Rocky Marciano captured the public’s attention like few other boxers have. His grit and determination are legendary, as is his punching power. Where exactly he ranks among the Heavyweight greats is up for debate, but no one questions his greatness. Rocky’s charisma kept him in the public spotlight for several years after he retired.
Get Your Rocky Marciano Rookie
Do you want to own a 1951 Topps Ringside Rocky Marciano Rookie #32? If so, we recommend starting your search on eBay – the world’s #1 card trading place. Even if you’re not planning to buy one just yet, it’s fun to look at all the great cards currently for sale.
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All About Rocky Marciano Rookies Infographic
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