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He spent years in reform school, jail, and Catholic protectories. He didn't like the discipline of training any more than he liked the discipline of school or the Army.Barbella, who got occasional work as a horseback rider, kept boxing gloves around the house and encouraged Graziano and his brothers to fight one another. Graziano heard from a couple of his friends about a tournament going on with a gold medal for the winner.Born in Brooklyn, Graziano later moved to an Italian enclave centered on East 10th Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A in Manhattan's East Village.He grew up as a street fighter and learned to look after himself before he could read or write. Despite the fame and money that professional fighting seemed to offer, he didn't want to become a serious prize fighter.
He was ranked 23rd on The Ring magazine list of the greatest punchers of all time.
He and his early managers went their separate ways but eventually, he was picked up by Irving Cohen who had the sense to give him a long leash.
Cohen changed the young fighter's name from Barbella to Graziano (his grandfather's surname) and lined up a fight.
He escaped from Fort Dix in New Jersey and started his real boxing career under the name of "Rocky Graziano". After gaining popularity under the name of Graziano, he was found by the military.
After his fourth bout, he was called into manager's office to speak with a couple of military personnel.