Antonino Rocca


Antonino Rocca (born Antonino Biasetton, 13 April 1921 – 15 March 1977) was an Italian Argentines, Italian Argentine Professional wrestling, professional wrestler. He tag teamed with partner Miguel Pérez (wrestler), Miguel Pérez. He was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, WWF Hall of Fame as a member of the WWE Hall of Fame (1995), class of 1995 and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996.

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. Rocca started his American professional wrestling career in the late 1940s in Texas. He had been trained by former World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship (original version), 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.

Capitol Wrestling Corporation/World Wide Wrestling Federation (1949–1976)

In 1949, Rocca started wrestling in the New York City-area territory for Toots Mondt, 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 City, New York, and would later be run by Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC, now WWE). Rocca later formed a tag team with Miguel Pérez (wrestler), Jose Miguel Pérez in 1957. Together, they captured the NWA World Tag Team Championship (Capitol version), NWA 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. 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. 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 WWE World Championship, WWWF World Heavyweight Champion as Buddy Rogers (wrestler), 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. 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 Garden Arena, 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 to 1976.


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 NWA North American Tag Team Championship (Puerto Rico/WWC version), 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. 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.

Championships and accomplishments

* Montreal Athletic Commission ** MAC World Heavyweight Championship (1 time) * American Wrestling Association, American Wrestling Association (Ohio) ** AWA World Heavyweight Championship (Boston version), AWA World Heavyweight Championship (Ohio version) (AWA World Heavyweight Championship#title history, 1 time) * Stampede Wrestling ** Stampede Wrestling#Hall of Fame, Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame (Class of 1995) * Capitol Wrestling Corporation ** NWA World Tag Team Championship (Capitol version) (1 time) – with Miguel Pérez (wrestler), Miguel Pérez * World Class Championship Wrestling, Southwest Sports, Inc. ** NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship (NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship#Title history, 2 times)* * World Wrestling Council ** NWA North American Tag Team Championship (Puerto Rico/WWC version), WWC North American Tag Team Championship (NWA North American Tag Team Championship (Puerto Rico/WWC version), 1 time) – with Miguel Pérez. * WWE, World Wide Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Federation ** WWF International Heavyweight Championship, CWC/WWWF International Heavyweight Championship (WWF International Heavyweight Championship#Title history, 1 time, inaugural) ** WWE Hall of Fame, WWF Hall of Fame (WWE Hall of Fame (1995), Class of 1995) * Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum ** Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, Class of 2003 * ''Wrestling Observer Newsletter'' ** Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame#1996 inductees, Class of 1996)

See also

* List of premature professional wrestling deaths


External links

Wrestling Museum profile
* * {{DEFAULTSORT:Rocca, Antonino 1921 births 1977 deaths 20th-century American male actors Argentine male professional wrestlers American male professional wrestlers Italian emigrants to Argentina Italian male professional wrestlers Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum WWE Hall of Fame inductees Stampede Wrestling alumni