International Sport

Boxing – Former world champion Rocchigiani dies in Italy after being hit by car

FILE PHOTO: German boxer Graciano Rocchigiani celebrates after winning a cruiser-class boxing match against Canada’s Willard Lewis in Berlin February 10, 2001. Rocchigiani won the fight on points/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s former world super-middleweight and light-heavyweight champion Graciano Rocchigiani has died aged 54 in southern Italy after being hit by a car while out walking, officials said on Tuesday.

The boxer, who had an Italian father and German mother, had held both the IBF super-middleweight title from 1988 to 1989 as well as the WBC light-heavyweight in 1998 by defeating Michael Nunn.

Rocchigiani, who fought all 48 of his professional fights in Germany, captivated the boxing world with his bouts against fellow German Henry Maske and Poland’s Dariusz Michalczewski in the 1990s.

His last fight was in 2003 when he was defeated for the vacant WBC international light heavyweight title.

“Berlin mourns one of its athletes, who in the 1980s and 1990s fascinated the crowds,” said Berlin mayor Michael Mueller in a statement.

“Rocky, as he was known around the world, was not only after Max Schmeling and Eckhard Dagge the third German world champion in the professional sport.

“He was also an original Berliner, who combined his mouth and his heart. Not everything worked out for him in life as it did in the ring. But Berliners loved him for his sometimes rough and edgy ways. We mourn a boxer with a big heart.”

Rocchigiani, who had been imprisoned for assault and driving without a valid license, had been the youngest German world boxing champion. He also worked as a boxing commentator.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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