Monday, June 17, 2019
Home Sport Last applause for "Rocky" Rocchigiani

Last applause for "Rocky" Rocchigiani

At about twelve o'clock, a short ringing of bells indicates that the funeral service in the chapel has begun. About 200 people have space in the cupola just behind the entrance to the Old St. Matthew's Cemetery in Schöneberg, which is far from enough on this late summer Saturday. Several hundred people, who also want to pay the last respects to the former boxer Graciano "Rocky" Rocchigiani, wait in the forecourt, look at the wreaths in front of the small staircase to the entrance, for the inside there is no room left, welcome old buddies, without Shoulder-beating embrace rarely does that.

The funeral was held in the chapel in St. Matthew's Cemetery.Photo: Andreas Conrad

Very different mourners have arrived, with the men clearly outweighing. Often they are of a muscular stature, compact and well-trained, and although some now hold a white rose or even a mourning binder in their hands – one senses that they should not contradict them, unless you are as rocky as one had been. Men from the boxer scene, it is to be suspected, or even those who have a soft spot for the fist fight. For example, the delegation of the "Rolling Wheels Berlin MC" – that's the way it stands on the west, garnished with a thick emblem reminiscent of the Iron Cross. Also, in the scene you obviously like to wear a bald head with a chin-beard, which ends in a small braid.

Several hundred guests came to Rocky funeral.Photo: Andreas Conrad

Whether they had a special relationship with the dead or had come only out of respect? And did you ever see him fight? The men are grinning. Once? Man, they've seen Rocky quite a few times and are even up to Hamburg, back in the fight with "the Pole," for example, when Rocky got shit and the glasses flew. And of course, they also knew him personally, not good, but at least.
"The Pole", that must mean Dariusz Michalczewski, 1996, the fight at Millerntor. He is now sitting inside the chapel for the funeral of his former opponent, like former colleagues Henry Maske, Sven Ottke, Arthur Abraham, Marco Huck and boxing promoter Wilfried Sauerland.

A picture and boxing gloves in memory of Rocky.Photo: Andreas Conrad

And even Juppy of the Ufa factory is among the guests, unmistakable with his very gray mane and funny hat, you know him no different. He also has to wait outside, but likes to say that he knew Rocky personally, he used to have breakfast in the café of the Ufa factory. Also seen a fight? Some, unfortunately only on television. That was still correct boxing.

Inside, the funeral service is slowly coming to an end, half an hour is scheduled. After the funeral speech of the Catholic clergyman, Walter Straten also wanted to speak a few sentences of "Bild", reminiscences of the dead person whom he accompanied for 30 years – as the journalist had announced before the memorial service.

Funeral wreaths for Rocky.Photo: Andreas Conrad

And again bells ringing, the doors open, the coffin is carried outside, light brown wood, decorated with red roses. As if on command, smartphones are firing up to document the last path of boxer Graciano "Rocky" Rocchigiani to the private archive. In the smoke of incense, the train begins to move slowly, as a few claps that swell quickly do not last long, after all, it's a funeral, but somehow it fits, a touching token of respect for a fighter – last applause for Rocky.

A little way up the hill, then the tomb to the left. Last words of the priest, last drops of holy water, one last time the censer is swung, then the coffin sinks into the grave. Many famous names can be found in the churchyard, the brothers Grimm, Werner von Siemens, Rudolf Virchow, Carl Bolle and now also Rocky, right next to the grave of a man who was not a boxer, but who carries another world champion: Schmeling.


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