A Closer Look at The Real “Rocky”— Rafael Marzan From the Electric City
By Valeen “V” Marquez
Everyone knows the fictional character Robert “Rocky” Balboa, a man who started out by going the distance and overcoming obstacles in life through his career as a professional boxer. Whose character was inspired by the boxing legend Rocky Marciano. A staple in the boxing community these stories have become, however let me introduce you to the Electric City, Scranton’s own real-life Rafael “Rocky” Marzan. A truly inspirational young man. Coming into the world in 1994, he was given the nickname “Rocky” by his great grandmother Rita, one that would stick and become his legacy!
Coming from Scranton trying to find his way through the sport of boxing, was not always easy. At the early age of 8 “Rocky” was described as a high energy kid, always up and about, rambunctious led his mother to signing him up at the local gym on Providence Street. Contemplating interest in the gym, at times he let the troubles of wrong crowds and reckless behavior deter him from the sport, going down a darker path. After falling and trying to climb back up, explained his mom was the one who pushed him and had faith in him to get back up and get back into the gym, for that was his true calling, he was determined to take his life back by the balls!
Rocky’s first fight was at Upper Darby Boxing Gym in Philadelphia, Pa. He came out victorious with no professional training, which quenched his thirst to pursue his boxing career further. Along his journey he met some influential previous boxers like Dennis Burley, Chris Mills and Andre Hemphill. Hemphill took Rocky under his wing teaching the ins and outs of boxing.
Around 2012 he was ready to really take all that he had in him, courage, determination, strength and push himself to dedicating all his time and effort to the sport. This led “Rocky” to the Weston Field Gym right here in Scranton. Starting off on the ground floor the gym was soon transformed with the help of State Representative Marty Flynn, moving upstairs which is now referred to as the “Irish Boxing Gym” led by Gene Reed.
Still determined to prove himself in this sport, Rocky knew part of pursuing his dream was having true faith in himself. “At the end of the day, it’s better for me to do it then anyone else” he stated. Nothing more important you can do for oneself in life!
Knowing that if he wanted to be something big someday he had to have the courage and strength to go out there and find it “I’m gonna make it out of the jungle” he exclaimed and took that leap of faith leaving his family, girl, house, job and the comfort zone of his hometown to set off on a journey with a goal to Las Vegas!
In 2017 he left the Electric City with $1000, no place to stay, no real plan, just a one-way plane ticket and a dream! I sense a little Martin Luther King, JR. inspiration in his veins.
He landed a truly miracle situation after looking for rooms to rent and places to stay with no responses. He came upon a generous lady who offered him an air mattress to stay on, what he then took as a sign, “God has a plan for me”. The lady on the other end of the phone explained the property he called was once known as the “Harrison House”.
A segregated house from back in the day where people like Muhammad Ali had once stayed. A true example that angels really do exist, sometimes they are just in the form of strategically placed human beings with a compassionate heart! From this starting point he had the courage to walk right into Mayweather’s Gym. That was his goal from leaving the Electric City and he knew what he had to do to get there!
He started training there on his own, trying to keep focus, trying to keep out all the previous naysayers comments and critiques. Determined to prove himself and show someone he had the potential and fight inside to be a champion! Training with people like Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, he was determined to be just as good and just as brave to make this love of boxing into something bigger. Through being at the gym he had come in contact with the infamous, 2008 Masters of Martial Arts Hall of Fame Inductee, 2x world champion kickboxer, Pro-boxer-MMA, 8x world champion boxing coach Dewey Cooper!