Rocco Rosetti - Lasting Three Rounds
Moe Fields - the special bond between fathers and sons is a tribute to my dad....and All dads.

Rocco Rosetti: Lasting Three Rounds:

As a young man, Murray Goldman (aka Moe Fields) found his heart inside a boxing ring. He earned money during the Depression to help support his parents. He learned not tofear anything or anybody. After getting married to Franny, he once tried to explain the feeling. Every challenge during this period in his life reminded him how often he could absorb pain and still persevere. In those moments of victory, he reassured himself. He was alive. He knew how to win.

On occasion, Murray would go out. He missed the crowd at Rosie’s bar. It was Friday night. He could hear the noise in the back. It was late. The ring announcer was egging on the crowd for someone to fight the undefeated Rocco Rosetti. No one moved. Rocco had been on the bootleg fight scene for several years. He knocked out 38 opponents and nearly killed two fighters. Rocco’s skills were fine-tuned during his years fighting as a professional. At 42, he was long past any hope of a shot at the title. Sports writers claimed Rocco had the guts of a fighter, but lacked the control. “He was simply too emotional,” wrote one columnist. If he got hurt, he’d completely lose his composure and his game plan.

But Rocco was well suited for the bootleg boxing scene. At Rosie’s the referees were not capable of pulling Rocco off someone, once he got angry. Rocco got angry frequently.

Murray moved through the crowd. He had not had a fight for some time now. Murray envisioned a life beyond boxing. He had a wife. He wasn’t afraid to work. He wanted to own and run a business. He now had dreams. Everyone knew a war was coming. The news on the radio was filled with stories about Hitler and Germany. It was just a matter of time. Murray was focused on saving as much money as he could, to prepare for a war—if a war came.

The ring announcer begged the crowd for someone to fight Rocco. He had already knocked out two contenders. These fights had ended quickly. The crowd wanted more. No one was anxious to face Rocco. They valued their life. The announcer finally did something rarely done at Rosie’s. Ringside was flush with the energy from the crowd and cash to bet. “Ok,” said the announcer, “who’s willing to come up here and take on Rocco Rosetti?

For the challenger who steps in the ring, I have this crisp $20 bill. And for the man that lasts three rounds with Rocco, I have two crisp $20 bills.” No one was coming forward. The ring fell silent. “Ladies and gentlemen,” said the announcer, “I will pay any man or woman $75 if they can stay in the ring with Rocco Rosetti for three rounds.”

This was an extraordinary sum of money for a bootleg fight. “Is there no one here who can go three rounds with this fighter?”

“Why don’t you fight him,” a drunk patron yelled near the ring.”

Soon a very heavy-set man walked down to the ring and waved the announcer to come over and talk. After several minutes, the announcer returned to the centre of the ring. “Ladies and gentlemen, I have just chatted with Ian Knight, the owner of Rosie’s. He has agreed to pay the unprecedented sum of $100 to anyone who lasts three rounds with Rocco.”

The crown went wild, screaming and cheering. Suddenly, a voice called out, “I’ll do it.” Chaos took over ringside. Patrons strained to see where the voice came from.

Soon a tall figure started to make his way down the aisle. The crowd was on their feet, cheering the contender. As Murray reached ringside, the announcer walked over and asked his name. They talked for a minute and then the ring announcer grabbed the microphone.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we have a fighter in the house. He is no stranger to Rosie’s. He’s a former Golden Gloves competitor. At Rosie’s, he has been undefeated in 25 fights. At 220 pounds and standing six foot two, from the streets of Brooklyn, I give you Moe Fields.”

The crowd jumped to their feet clapping and cheering.

Moe climbed into the ring, with his boxing gear in hand. While the crowd continued to cheer and place bets with the bookies at ringside, the announcer walked over to Moe Fields.

“What took you so long? You’ve been standing in that crowd for 15-20 minutes.”

“The money,” replied Moe. “I wasn’t getting in the ring with this guy unless there was more money.” Moe smiled, as the announcer shook his head and walked away.

Suddenly, Moe turned serious as he looked across the ring at Rocco’s bulging arms and trunk-like legs. His plan was to jab and move around the ring. He felt he had enough experience to last three rounds and collect his whopping $100.

The bell rang. Rocco moved across half the ring, before Moe could leave his corner. Moe jabbed with his left and moved to clear the circle. Rocco’s head snapped back. The opportunity was there and Moe took it. He landed a hard-right cross to Rocco’s face. Pandemonium broke out, as Rocco went down on one knee. The smoke in the arena was thick. Rocco was stunned, as the referee started the count. Moe was equally stunned. He had hardly broken a sweat. He returned to his corner.

Life is never as easy as it seems to be. Rocco was up by the count of eight. He blinked his eyes to shake the cobwebs. Blood filled his face with rage. He started spitting to his left and right. The ref had his hands full trying to hold Rocco back. He broke free and came at Moe. His arms were swinging wildly. Moe had been deceived by the early knock down. Rocco was more than a match for him. Moe tried to move in a circle and get his jab working. Rocco cut him off and pummelled him. Moe moved back against the ropes, hoping he could escape. Rocco would not let him go. He grabbed Moe in a head-lock and kept punching his face. It took forever until the referee could separate them. By the end of round one, Moe was bleeding from a cut above his right eye. His lip was split. His head felt like he had been hit by a truck.

The bell for round one rang out. The fighters retreated to their corners. Moe feared no one, but he was smart enough to know he was about to take a beating.

By the middle of round two, Rocco had broken Moe’s nose. Blood spurted out and filled his T-shirt with crimson. Moe had difficulty breathing. Rocco had driven him into the corner. He must have hit Moe with 10 unanswered blows to the face and body. Moe grabbed Rocco’s arms and held on. Moe’s legs were clearly wobbly. The bell sounded. Moe was saved from certain defeat.

At ringside, a boxing old-timer climbed up to help Moe in his corner. He must have worked the ring in his day, because he knew what to do. He wiped the blood from Moe’s face, clearing his eyes. He held a nice bag on Moe’s nose.

“Son, you’re taking quite a beating out there.”

Moe looked at him. His head was aching, but Moe managed to smile. “Yeah, I know,” he responded. “Do you have any advice?” Moe asked.

“Well, you’re from Brooklyn, aren’t you? I think you better go out there and show him what you’re made of.”

“That’s it,” Moe asked. “That’s your advice?”

“Yes, that’s it. Get out there and kick the shit out him. And you better not waste any more time doing it. ”The bell for round three rang. Moe knew he would not as a third round by moving around the ring; too much time and too little ring. He knew Rocco was coming in for the kill. He ducked Rocco’s right and hit him square in the solar plexus. He could hear Rocco gasp for air. He had found Rocco’s sweet spot. He stood up and hit him with a left to the jaw.

Moe drove him back against the ropes with a series of punches to the mid-section. He worked the ribs, hitting Rocco with everything he had. Moe could swear he saw steam coming from his face. He had angered the bull. He had a choice to either try and run, until the round ended, or square off with the meanest fighter he had ever met.

Rocco suddenly lunged at Moe, hitting him square in the face. He went down. Slowly, he used the ropes to regain his footing. He crouched down low and came up with a powerful right upper cut, which caught Rocco by surprise. Rocco fell back a few feet. Moe pursued and hit him again with a right cross. Rocco tried to steady himself. Moe caught him again with a left upper cut. He drove his fist into Rocco’s right ribs with everything he had left.

His legs wobbled. Moe’s instinct took over. His hands worked faster, like he was on the speed bag. He switched his fighting stance totty and confuse his opponent. As a south paw, Moe had an equally strong jab with both hands. His right cross was then followed by a left to the body. The adrenalin had taken over. Moe was angry for the first time in the ring. He let go of trying to protect himself. He wanted Rocco gone.

A right upper cut caught Rocco, just as the bell rang ending round three. He was hurt, but Rocco would not go down for the count. The crowd was out of control. It would be 30 minutes before the noise subsided. Few remembered ever seeing a fight like this before at Rosie’s. A chorus of “Moe, Moe, Moe,” erupted.

Moe returned to his corner. The ring announcer called the end of the fight.

He had lasted three rounds with Rocco Rosetti. He collected his $100 from the announcer. But his biggest challenge was still ahead of him. How would he get home?

Moe’s friend, Artie Shaw arrived at Rosie’s as quickly as he could. Moe was still sitting in the dressing room. He held an ice bag on his nose. Blood was everywhere. It was obvious he had taken a vicious beating.

“What the hell happened,” Artie asked. Moe looked up. “I think a freight train hit me,” he responded. “But if it makes you feel any better, I don’t think the freight train is going any where tonight.”

"Moe Fields - the special bond between fathers and sons" is a Father's Day story for the ages.

My father didn’t work on Wall St. My dad was a Plumber – a guy who was proud to work with his hands. He died in May 1976. I wrote this book to honour him–and celebrate the lessons he taught us.

The bloody image of the 1932 golden gloves competitor still inspires me. So, too, does his Navy WWII service. But one funny story from the book stands out.

The lesson in Lodi, NJ:

I remember him towering over us, as kids. He was such a large guy. I remember the size of his hands swooping down to lift me to the sky.

What I remember the most was his work ethic. I recall at 10-years old, when he took me on a job in Lodi New Jersey. It was a Cape Cod house. I remember it so well. We climbed the stairs.. I could smell the second-floor bathroom even as we walked down the hallway.

Dad walked into the bathroom and lifted the cover of the toilet. What he saw was a toilet bowl filled with paper and brown waste. He slowly turned to me, “Zach, stick your hands in the toilet and see what’s stopping it from flushing.”

The words hung in the air. I looked down at the toilet bowl and then up at my father’s 6’2” frame, 250 lbs., with those long arms that reached down pas this waist and connected the largest set of hands he had ever seen.

Dad never gave instructions to his boys more than once. If we didn’t hear him or respond, the next experience was the back of his hand. The crack was so fast and furious; it would take several minutes before the pain registered in our brain. There was no sparing the rod. The boundary lines and expectations were clear.

I wasn’t about to challenge his instructions. You could see he was serious. I took off my coat and rolled up my shirt sleeves. I reached deep into the toilet bowl, with a determination I hoped he would be proud of. After several minutes fishing around for an answer I did not have, I pulled my hands out. The brown goo clung to his fingers. Once again, I looked up to dad for direction.

He paused for a minute to reinforce his message. He looked down at me. He then spoke slowly, “Zach, now you know the meaning of work! If you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty, you’ll be ok. Now, go wash your hands.”

The lesson from Lodi, New Jersey stayed with me. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. But it’s a lesson I have used to shape my own ideas about life, work – and being a father.

Invasion of Southern France

On August 13,1944, the USS Catoctin left Naples. The men were aware a new operation would soon be underway, but very little information was communicated. Word did spread quickly that the Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, and the commanders of the 7th Army, the 12th Air Force and French Naval Forces were all on board the Catoctin.

By the next day, the ship arrived off the coast of southern France, at early dawn. The crew was put on high alert, as the long-planned assault, code name Operation Dragoon, got underway.

The ocean off the coast was filled with Allied war ships. The invasion of southern France was underway.


The Catoctin played a key role in planning the Allied assault. The ship remained with the Eighth Fleet, which stood miles offshore. However, the crew could still see some of the action in the distance. Puffs of smoke were visible, where Allied paratroopers tossed smoke grenades marking the enemy’s large gun embankment. Then, suddenly, the crew could hear loud explosions behind the airship. The sound was deafening. The explosions came from the powerful guns on two U.S. destroyers near the Catoctin. The crew watched as the destroyer found its mark and the German gun embankments would disappear.

Within the first two days, it became clear the Germans did not have the troop strength to resist the invasion. The Allies would achieve huge success, moving quickly inland and liberating most of France in four weeks. While U.S. forces moved north, the French First Army liberated Marseille and Toulon. The ships of the Eighth fleet dispersed after the initial attack proved successful.

The Catoctin had done its job on August 15, guiding the Allied invasion, but it was not out of danger. Each night, a crew of sailors would circle the ship in small boats. Their mission was to use smog machines to cloak the ship with a large smoke screen, so its position was hidden from German air attacks. The crew was hugely effective, until the third night after the invasion. It was near 3 a.m., when the Catoctin’s Commander sounded the alarm for battle stations. German planes could be heard in the sky. Suddenly, a panic swept a cross the ship. The moon was full and gusting winds had cleared the smoke screen protecting the ship’s visibility.

On the brightly lit ocean, the Catoctin was a sitting duck. Sailors scrambled on deck, as they heard the German planes descending. The Catoctin radioed for help, but help would not come in time. The Commander ordered the gunners to begin firing, in a last-ditch effort to try and scare off the German pilots. But the Catoctin was a radar and communications ship, with limited weaponry. The German personnel bombs fell and shrapnel exploded, cutting through the ship. Two sailors, who left their positions to see the planes overhead, were killed instantly. A fire broke out below. Crew members were racing up the stairs from the lower decks to try and escape.


The German pilots circled and made two passes at the Catoctin. The screams of men injured as the bombs landed could be heard through the ship. As men ran up the stairs, one grabbed Murray and warned him not to go below. A fire was raging in the lower decks, near the ship’s boilers. Murray pushed the man aside and headed down toward the fire.

Murray Goldman did not fear death. He understood the danger to the ship. He was determined to help stop it. He walked quickly down the steps, as sailors ran past him in growing numbers to reach the top of the ship. Dick Riordan and Steve O’Malley followed close behind.


The heat from the fire was intense. Murray knew he had to little time to shut the boilers down and avoid an explosion deep within the ship. Lives were at stake. An explosion below would likely sink the Catoctin. The only option was to get through the fire and reach the main valves controlling the boiler.

The hair on his arms was gone and he was burned in several places, as he raced through the narrow corridor of fire. He had not thought about how he would get out, once the boiler was shut down. He reached the wheel of the main valve. He grabbed wet towel to throw on the wheel and turned it with all his strength. At first, the wheel would not budge. Murray backed off. He could feel the heat from the fire in the wheel. Several more attempts would prove unsuccessful. Sweat was pouring off of him. He wiped his brow with the back of his hand. He grabbed a long piece of pipe to use as a lever, placing it through the wheel. With his foot firmly placed against the wall, Murray pulled the pipe with everything he had left to give. He heard a creaking sound and the main valve slowly started to turn. Again, he pulled. Finally, he was able to shut the boiler down.


Murray soon remerged on deck. He was carrying a young sailor in his arms. Murray’s face and arms were now black from soot. His t-shirt was covered in blood. Murray was coughing from the smoke, as he struggled to reach the main deck. Other sailors ran to help Murray, but they could see it was too late. The young sailor had died in Murray’s arms. The sailors on deck tried to pry Murray’s arms loose. Murray refused to let him go. He knew the boy was gone, but Murray could not bear to let him go. By the end of that night, six men on Catoctin had died and 31 were wounded from the attack. Murray and his team were successful in stopping the fire. Their effort had adverted a calamity for the ship, but there was no celebration. They had simply done their job, as they saw it. Men had died that night. They were thankful to survive the attack.