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Don Cockell

Don Cockell Profile Image
  • Nickname: None
  • Date of Birth: 22nd September 1928
  • Died: 18th July 1983 (54 years old)
  • Career length: 9 years 9 months
  • Status: Deceased
  • Nationality: England Flag England
  • Birthplace: Balham, London, United Kingdom Flag Balham, London, United Kingdom
  • Residence: Battersea, London, United Kingdom Flag Battersea, London, United Kingdom
  • Division: Heavyweight
  • Height: 181cm
  • Reach: 180cm
  • Stance: Orthodox
  • BoxRec: Don Cockell
  • Debut: 26th June 1946


Donald John Cockell was a British professional boxer who competed from 1946 to 1956. Born on September 22, 1928, in Balham, London, Cockell began his career as a light-heavyweight and later moved up to the heavyweight division. He gained international recognition for his title bout against the legendary Rocky Marciano.

Cockell's early life was marked by hardship. He never knew his father and was raised by his mother, a domestic servant. Despite these challenges, Cockell developed a muscular physique through his work as a blacksmith and began boxing in fairground booths before rising through the amateur ranks.

Turning professional in 1946, Cockell quickly established himself as a formidable fighter. In 1950, he won the vacant British light-heavyweight title by defeating Mark Hart. The following year, he added the European light-heavyweight title to his collection by beating Albert Yvel.

Cockell's career took a significant turn when he decided to move up to the heavyweight division after losing to Randolph Turpin in a British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight title fight in 1952. This decision proved wise, as Cockell went on to defeat Johnny Williams in 1953 to win the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles.

Cockell's impressive performances against American heavyweights Roland La Starza and Harry Matthews earned him a shot at the world heavyweight title against the undefeated champion, Rocky Marciano. The bout occurred on May 16, 1955, at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. Despite being a significant underdog, Cockell fought bravely until the ninth round, when Marciano won by technical knockout. Marciano later praised Cockell's courage and resilience, stating, "He's got a lot of guts. I don't think I ever hit anyone more often or harder."

Although Cockell lost his subsequent fights against Nino Valdes and Kitione Lave, his performance against Marciano cemented his place in boxing history as a courageous and determined fighter. He retired from boxing in 1956 with 66 wins (38 by knockout), 14 losses, and 1 draw.

After his retirement, Cockell tried his hand at various occupations, including farming, running a pub, and operating a haulage firm. He later worked as a craftsman blacksmith for the London Underground and eventually took a job as an emergency maintenance man.

Tragically, Cockell passed away from cancer on July 18, 1983, at a hospital in Tooting. He left behind a legacy as one of Britain's most memorable boxers, a man who rose from humble beginnings to challenge the world's best and earn the respect of his peers and fans alike. Though unsuccessful, his title fight against Rocky Marciano remains a testament to his courage and determination in the face of overwhelming odds.