Rocky Steele

First Appearance: Young Men #21 (October 1953).
Appearances: Young Men #21-23.
Years Active: 1950s.

Rocky Steele, the "Idol of the Ring," is the champ, one of the best boxers in the world. His origins were, in proper boxer-makes-good fashion, humble.

When Rocky was only fifteen he was good with his fists and accustomed to mixing it up with "the kids at the Youth Center Gym." He draws the attention of kindly Pop Homer, "the coach for us kids," who introduces Rocky to Rocky's idol (and Pop's former student) Ace Miller, the "ex-middle weight champion of the world, and still the him in my book."

Ace: "Yep, kid, you got it, okay! Look, I'm making a comeback! How'd you like to work with me...and I could teach you things?"

Rocky: "I'd like that fine, Mr. Miller! It's swell of you to be interested!"

Rocky (narrating): "That's how it started! Ace taught me everything I know...coached me...smoothed out the rought spots...taught me to be a boxer as well as a puncher! He was the best teacher and the best friend in the whole world! He and Pop had me boxing amateur and I knocked over everybody in my division!"

Under the tutelage of Ace and the management of Pop, Rocky rises in the ranks and turns pro. After going 12-0, with 8 knockouts, Rocky is ready for "the big time...the main event!" Unfortunately, his opponent that night is Ace Miller. (Pop himself signs the deal, and when questioned on it shrugs and says, "That's the fight business, Rocky!") Rocky is very, very reluctant to take the fight, and after a night of emotionally agonized wandering is on the verge of telling Pop he's not going to fight Ace when he is confronted by Ruth Miller, Ace's wife. Ruth begs him to take the fight:

Knock him out as quickly as you can...for his sake! You see, Rocky, Ace is through and he doesn't know it! The guys he's been fighting have been carrying him because they respect him! But...he's been getting hurt! If he doesn't quit, know how he'll end up!
Rocky reluctantly sees the sense in this and takes the fight, during which he carries Ace for four rounds and then cleanly knocks him out. Ace, though, holds no grudge:
Sore? Me? It's the fight game, isn't it? You showed me I'm through! Why should I be sore at a thing like that? You did me a favor! I'm through...but you're just starting...and I'm going to help you!
Of course, when Rocky is confronted by crooks, he beats them up, too, thereby earning an inclusion in this page.

Notes: Somewhat oddly for comics of the Young Men sort, the "Rocky Steele" stories were explicitly serial in nature, with each episode ending on a "stay tuned next time for the next story from Rocky's life" note.

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