Skip to main content
Original Issue

The Question: In a free-for-all between Rocky Marciano, Heavyweight Boxing Champion, and Lou Thesz, Wrestling Champion, who would win?

World's Heavyweight Champion
"I'd bat his brains out, throwing punches from the opening bell. Thesz has no defense against pile-driving punches. And I've broken a few holds, myself. I'd welcome the chance to prove that I can lick Thesz. Jimmy, why don't you and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED promote this fight? It would sell out any stadium."

LOUIS G. WILKE, Bartlesville, Okla.
Natl. AAU of the U.S.
"If the crotch kick and other cripplers are barred, I pick Marciano. He's smart enough to alter his tactics, knowing that a rushing style would work to his disadvantage. At long range, Rocky's power-laden fists, all-round stamina and fighting ability would be too much for Lou Thesz."

ALFRED Y. MORGAN, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Owner, White Rock
Beverage Corp.
"Rocky would kill Thesz. Marciano is fast and can keep away from body holds. Wrestlers have no defense against the killing blows of a skillful boxer. One hard right to the head and Marciano could take his time for the knockout. I'd love to see this. It looks like a natural for Jim Norris."

Firestone Plastics Co.
"The present crop of professional wrestlers we have on television aren't really wrestlers. They do too much clowning—not enough wrestling. Marciano would murder any of them, including Lou Thesz. But the old-timers like Jimmy Londos and Zbyszko would tear Marciano apart."

Publicity and promotion
"Marciano. In his fight against Don Cockell of England, he showed that he knows every dirty trick in the book. Years ago I saw a match between a boxer and a wrestler-judo artist. The wrestler got the boxer down, but the boxer delivered the knockout punch while sprawled on his knees."

RUDY DUSEK, Passaic, N.J.
Wrestler and wrestling promoter
"There's no question about it. Thesz would win. I once fought a free-for-all with a good fighter in Memphis, Tenn. I threw him, twisted his arm, dislocated his shoulder and tore his arm muscles. It was over in one minute and 52 seconds. Although I'm 50, I'd be glad to take on Marciano."

"I would. A wrestler is better equipped for rough-and-tumble fighting. I saw such a match 20 years ago between Ray Steele and Kingfish Levinsky. Steele licked the Kingfish in 32 seconds. Any of a dozen wrestlers could lick Marciano. I say this while acknowledging Rocky is a great champion."

Judo wrestler
"Any top wrestler or judo artist can beat Marciano. A wrestler will use all submission holds and chokes. The judo artist will also use his feet, knees, elbows and fists. My bit of Oriental advice to Rocky is: The tougher and better known you are in your profession, the meeker you should be."

LOUIS MATHIS, Paris, France
American Bureau of Shipping
"That depends. If Marciano is a good wrestler—and he may well be—this free-for-all would be a diller. But if Rocky knows little about wrestling, Thesz would win. A champion wrestler has too many tricks. Lou would come in low, grapple with Rocky and break his arm on the first hold."

Old-time wrestling champion
"Thesz. No boxer can cope with a wrestler in hand-to-hand combat. In World War I, while teaching hand-to-hand combat, 10 soldiers, instructed by me, met 10 soldiers who were trained by the boxing instructor. Every wrestler won. I respect Marciano's ability, but any top wrestler can lick him."

Sports editor
Pittsburgh Press
"Lou Thesz, without a doubt. It would be no contest. All Lou would have to do is slip past Marciano's first lead, move in and get his hold. Rocky would never get free. It would be all over. That has been proven in the past, but I'd certainly like to see the match."




Who is the greatest baseball player of all time?