Originally Posted by edward morbius
"men in Southern Italy still only average 5 foot 8"
Yes and I agree that there is no way of telling if Marciano would have grown taller today.
"height of the average adult American male is going down"
This is not what I found.
CDC (Center for Disease Control) has the average adult American male going from 5' 8" in 1960 to slightly over 5' 9.5" in 2006. That is not getting shorter by any means.
WHO--has the average adult American male between 20-39 at 5' 10.2", taller than Great Britain, France, Italy, or Germany, or in fact most of the rest of the world. This despite a significant percentage of Mexican-Americans who average 5' 7" and pull the total average down.
Army--Komlos seems to be selecting facts here. The average soldier in the Civil War was 5' 7". In WWII it was 5' 8". I don't know what the average soldier would be today, but off the WHO figures, if a cross-section it should be about 5' 10". If it is not, the volunteer army is shorter than the average male while the conscript armies were not. That is possible. Those turning to the army as a way out and a way up would probably be from the lower classes, and upper class folks tend to be taller, all other factors equal. The conscript army was everyone with the sickly (who I assume would average shorter) weeded out.
growing up in the NY area I have had the experience of being around many different kinds of ethnic groups and I can tell you American Italians and Italians are 2 different types of people. There are many types of Italian Americans ...not all Italians are tough but there are shortish Italians that have freakish strength, I know 2 brothers that are smaller than 5"8 that are legends in the boroughs of NY for there street fighting and are known for there one punch power. I know Italian,Irish,Poles,Germans,Jews of all nations that are tougher than there European cousins... Italian Americans for one have some shorter but wider and heavier boned or steel boned people and some are freakishly strong...they may be 5'8 5'9 and 230 lbs, not always suited for the boxing ring but strong dangerous people...I have also seen tough Jews and Puerto Ricans and Blacks that are small in height but freakish strength.....Northern Americans may not be as tough today as in the last 100 years but have been historically tougher than Europeans
I have to say these days it seems like Europe has a large edge on America today but America mostly dominated in the past 10 decades