Legendary marathon-like walk inspired by three local heroes

Street Stories

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ When Kevin Hurley Jr. takes the first steps of what he expects will be a 27-mile walk, it will appear as though he’s the only one hoofing it toward the site of the old Rhode Island Auditorium.

But the Swansea special education teacher will not be alone.

“The most I’ve done is 12,” Hurley said during a recent walk. “Hopefully doing 15 this weekend.”

So far, he’s been walking in circles ─ miles of circles ─ up and down Route 123.

“Once I do the actual route, and I’m walking forward with a goal set, I think it will be a little easier,” Hurley said.

The actual path Hurley will follow brings you back decades to dozens of hazy nights in the sports venue that stood on North Main Street from 1926 until it was demolished in 1989.

The Rhode Island Auditorium was basically the home ring for Rocco Francis Marchegiano.

The “Brockton Blockbuster” better known as Rocky fought more than half of his 49 professional bouts there and was a favorite topic in the Hurley’s home.

“Whenever the name Rocky Marciano would come up,” Hurley recalled. “One of the comments that would inevitably be made was, ‘Did you know he used to walk from Brockton to Providence to train?'”

Hurley loves boxing history and there is no doubt what he knows about Marciano’s drive will be on his mind during the walk.

“Just a local guy that put his mind to it and worked really hard,” Hurley said. “His trainers would tell him his footwork was terrible and he didn’t have the right moves. But he just hit really hard and just kept going forward.”

The only heavyweight champion to finish his career undefeated was also known for his endurance ─ a hint there’s something to that legendary walk.

“That’s going to motivate me,” Hurley said.

Hurley’s description of Marciano’s work ethic also fits his father.

Kevin Hurley died from cancer in 2004 at the age of 52, but had already made a big enough impact as a Seekonk teacher to inspire the town to name the middle school after him.

One of the many lessons Hurley learned from his father: Finish what you start.

“I don’t have any doubt that I’m going to finish,” Hurley said.

Hurley’s walk is raising money for “The Blazeman Foundation for ALS,” which was founded by Seekonk triathlete Jon Blais who was one of his father’s students.

Blais died from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in 2007 at the at the age of 35.

“He was a great guy and I want to do something for his foundation,” Hurley said. “It might take a while but I’ll finish.”

Email Walt at wbuteau@wpri.com with your story ideas and follow us on Twitter: @StreetStories12 and @wbuteau.

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