Rocco R. Blasi '31 (Football, Boxing, Baseball)
Rocco Blasi was such a good boxer that he once defeated two opponents … in one night. He also excelled in baseball and football, the latter a sport he didn’t even play in high school.
Blasi came to Catholic University from St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J., where he played baseball and ran cross-country. He picked up football as a Cardinal junior and played like it had long been part of his life. The CUA end scooped up a blocked punt in his first game and ran for a 40-yard touchdown. In his next contest, he caught a scoring pass. In 1931 he also played quarterback and helped the Cards go from 1-8 to 8-1.
Blasi, as a senior boxing captain, was 6-0 with two knockouts. It was against Temple that he won consecutive bouts. In his middleweight encounter, he dropped his opponent twice in the second round and won by decision. CUA’s student newspaper, The Tower, described him connecting “with a series of jarring left and right hand blows.”
After helping the Temple fighter to his corner, Blasi returned to his rather climb through the ropes. The 5-foot-9, 160-pounder then proceeded to fight against a 175-pound opponent in the light-heavyweight division. The bout was fairly even until Blasi finished the third and final round with a flurry and was declared the winner. He received a five-minute standing ovation and, according to The Tower:
“Some of the wildest cheering ever to resound in spacious Brookland Gymnasium broke out, the crowd paying due homage to an athlete who had accomplished an ‘iron man’s’ stunt by winning two successive victories in one night, one over a man who was entirely out of his class.”
Blasi played freshman baseball and then two years on the varsity, hitting .347 as a senior shortstop. He left school toting the Harris Cup, CUA’s highest honor for a senior male athlete.
“There could not be a more fitting name than Rock to give this youth who has literally been a tower of strength, a very Gibraltar to the football team, the boxing squad and the baseball nine. He has become a three-letter man who has won our hearts as surely as he has won his ‘C.’” – 1931 Cardinal yearbook.