James J. Braddock
|James J. Braddock|
|Real name||James Walter Braddock|
|Nickname(s)||Bulldog of Bergen,
Pride of the Irish,
Pride of New Jersey, Cinderella Man
|Rated at||Light heavyweight
|Height||6 ft 2 1⁄2 in (1.89 m)|
|Reach||75 in (191 cm)|
June 7, 1905|
New York City, New York
|Died||November 29, 1974
North Bergen, New Jersey
|Wins by KO||26|
Fighting under the name James J. Braddock (ostensibly to follow the pattern set by two prior world boxing champions, James J. Corbett and James J. Jeffries), he was known for his powerful right hand, solid chin and comeback from a floundering career. He had lost several bouts due to chronic hand injuries and was forced to work on the docks and collect social assistance to feed his family during the Great Depression. In 1935 he fought Max Baer for the Heavyweight title and won. For this unlikely feat he was given the nickname "Cinderella Man" by Damon Runyon. Braddock was managed by Joe Gould.
Braddock was born in Hell's Kitchen in New York City on West 48th Street, within a couple of blocks of the Madison Square Garden venue, where he later became famous. He was the son of Irish-American parents Elizabeth (née O'Tool) and Joseph Braddock. He stated his life's early ambition was to play football for Knute Rockne at the University of Notre Dame, but he had "more brawn than brains."
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (June 2013)|
Braddock pursued boxing, turning pro at the age of 21, fighting as a light heavyweight. After three years, Braddock's record was 44-2-2 with 21 knockouts.
In 1928, he pulled off a major upset by knocking out highly regarded Tuffy Griffiths. The following year he earned a chance to fight for the title, but he narrowly lost to Tommy Loughran in a 15-round decision. Braddock was greatly depressed by the loss and badly fractured his right hand in several places in the process. His career suffered as a result, as did his disposition.
His record for the next 33 fights fell to 11-20-2. With his family in poverty during the Great Depression, Braddock had to give up boxing for a little while and worked as a longshoreman. Due to frequent injuries to his right hand, Braddock compensated by using his left hand during his longshoreman work, and it gradually became stronger than his right. He always remembered the humiliation of having to accept government relief money, but was inspired by the Catholic Worker Movement, a Christian social justice organization founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in 1933 to help the homeless and hungry. After his boxing comeback, Braddock returned the welfare money he had received and made frequent donations to various Catholic Worker Houses, including feeding homeless guests with his family.
Baer vs. Braddock
In 1934, Braddock was given a fight with the highly touted John "Corn" Griffin. Although Braddock was intended simply as a stepping stone in Griffin's career, he knocked out the "Ozark Cyclone" in the third round. Braddock then fought John Henry Lewis, a future light heavyweight champion. He won in one of the most important fights of his career. After defeating another highly regarded heavyweight contender, Art Lasky, whose nose he broke during the bout on March 22, 1935, Braddock was given a title fight against the World Heavyweight Champion, Max Baer.
Baer hardly trained for the bout. Braddock, on the other hand, was training hard. "I'm training for a fight. Not a boxing contest or a clownin' contest or a dance," he said. "Whether it goes 1 round or 3 rounds or 10 rounds, it will be a fight and a fight all the way. When you've been through what I've had to face in the last two years, a Max Baer or a Bengal tiger looks like a house pet. He might come at me with a cannon and a blackjack and he would still be a picnic compared to what I've had to face."
Considered little more than a journeyman fighter, Braddock was hand-picked by Baer's handlers because he was seen as an easy payday for the champion. Instead, on June 13, 1935, at Madison Square Garden Bowl, Braddock won the Heavyweight Championship of the World as the 10-to-1 underdog in one of the most stunning upsets in boxing history.
During the fight, a dogged Braddock took a few heavy hits from the powerful younger champion (30 years vs 26 years for Baer), but Braddock kept coming, wearing down Baer, who seemed perplexed by Braddock's ability to take a punch. In the end, the judges gave Braddock the title with a unanimous decision.
James Braddock suffered from problems with his arthritic hands after injuries throughout his career, and in 1936, his title defense in Madison Square Garden against the German Max Schmeling was canceled under suspicious circumstances. Braddock argued he would have received only a US$25,000 purse against Schmeling, compared to $250,000 against rising star Joe Louis.
Louis was considered to be the more dangerous opponent and the fact that he, being a black man, could be heavyweight champion made many boxing insiders against his getting a title shot. Braddock agreed to the fight with the stipulation that he would receive 10% of promoter Mike Jacobs' future fights. So if Braddock beat Louis or Louis retired, the deal was for any fight and any boxer that Jacobs was handling for the next ten years. This money did not include the purse, just money from the concessions i.e. hotdogs, drinks, tee shirts programs etc. So win or lose Joe Gould got Braddock a great deal. Braddock was able to knock down Louis in the fight, and Louis went on to win. Louis was quoted as saying that Braddock was the bravest man he ever fought.
Braddock married Mae Fox in 1930 and the couple had three children, James (Jay), Howard and Rosemarie. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and became a 1st Lieutenant. Upon return, he worked as a marine equipment surplus supplier and helped construct the Verrazano Bridge in the early 1960s.
Death and legacy
On his death in 1974 at the age of 69, James J. Braddock was interred in the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Tenafly, New Jersey. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2001. James J. Braddock North Hudson County Park in North Bergen, New Jersey is named in his honor.
The 2005 biographical film Cinderella Man tells the story of James J. Braddock. Directed by Ron Howard, and starring Russell Crowe as Braddock and Renée Zellweger as his wife, Mae. The film had an estimated budget of $88 million and grossed $108.5 million worldwide. Crowe's performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. Paul Giamatti, playing Braddock's manager Joe Gould, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The role of neighbor Sara Wilson was played by Rosemarie DeWitt, who is Braddock's real-life granddaughter (daughter of Braddock's daughter Rosemarie Braddock and husband Kenny DeWitt). The film received mostly positive reviews.
One notable scene from the movie depicts Braddock returning with interest the welfare money he begrudgingly received from the federal government. Braddock's posterity affirms this event was true.
Professional boxing record
|Tommy Farr||SD||10||21/01/1938||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States||Referee had it 4-4-2, but Braddock on points.|
|Joe Louis||KO||8 (15)||22/06/1937||Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois, United States||Lost NYSAC & NBA World Heavyweight titles. Louis down in 1st; Braddock in 8th. NYSAC recognized Louis as Champion on June 30; NBA on July 1.|
|Max Baer||UD||15||13/06/1935||Madison Square Garden Bowl, Long Island City, Queens, New York, United States||Won NYSAC & NBA World Heavyweight titles. Baer feinted a knockdown in the 8th round.|
|Art Lasky||UD||15||22/03/1935||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|John Henry Lewis||PTS||10||16/11/1934||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|Corn Griffin||TKO||3 (5)||14/06/1934||Madison Square Garden Bowl, Long Island City, Queens, New York, United States||Both fighters down in second round.|
|Abe Feldman||NC||6 (10)||25/09/1933||Memorial Field Stadium, Mount Vernon, New York, United States||Benefit for Mt. Vernon Police Department Home Relief Fund. Braddock broke his right hand.|
|Chester Matan||PTS||10||21/07/1933||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey, United States|
|Les Kennedy||PTS||10||21/06/1933||Oakland Arena, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States|
|Al Stillman||UD||10||19/06/1933||Arena, Saint Louis, Missouri, United States||Stillman down in first; Braddock injured his right hand with the punch. Two judges voted.|
|Martin Levandowski||MD||10||05/04/1933||Arena, Saint Louis, Missouri, United States|
|Al Stillman||TKO||10 (10)||21/03/1933||Arena, Saint Louis, Missouri, United States||Stillman down once in 9th and twice in 10th rounds.|
|Al Ettore||DQ||4 (8)||01/03/1933||Olympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States||Braddock was disqualified for 'not trying'.|
|Hans Birkie||PTS||10||09/11/1932||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|Martin Levandowski||PTS||10||13/01/1933||Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Lou Scozza||TKO||6 (10)||09/11/1932||Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California, United States||Braddock stopped with a cut left eye; he had been cut in the Patrick fight.|
|Tom Patrick||PTS||10||21/10/1932||Legion Stadium, Hollywood, California, United States|
|Dynamite Jackson||PTS||10||30/09/1932||Coliseum, San Diego, California, United States||Jackson down in the 1st round.|
|John Henry Lewis||PTS||10||21/09/1932||Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California, United States|
|Tony Shucco||PTS||8||25/07/1932||Madison Square Garden Bowl, Long Island City, Queens, New York, United States|
|Vicente Parrile||PTS||5||21/06/1932||Madison Square Garden Bowl, Long Island City, Queens, New York, United States||Walk-Out Bout after Sharkey won Schmeling.|
|Charley Retzlaff||PTS||10||13/05/1932||Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, United States|
|Baxter Calmes||UD||10||18/03/1932||Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Al Gainer||PTS||10||04/12/1931||Arena, New Haven, Connecticut, United States|
|Maxie Rosenbloom||NC||2 (10)||10/11/1931||Minneapolis Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States||Braddock and Rosenbloom were accused of a pre-arranged deal. The MN Commission allowed each $350 in training expenses, the balance of their purses was donated to charity.|
|Loss||40-14-7||Joe Sekyra||PTS||10||09/10/1931||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|Draw||40-13-7||Andy Mitchell||PTS||10||03/09/1931||Navin Field, Detroit, Michigan, United States|
|Win||40-13-6||Jack Kelly||PTS||10||30/03/1931||New Haven Arena|, New Haven, Connecticut, United States|
|Win||39-13-6||Jack Roper||KO||1 (6)||05/03/1931||Madison Square Garden Stadium, Miami, Florida, United States|
|Loss||38-13-6||Ernie Schaaf||SD||10||23/01/1931||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|Win||38-12-6||Phil Mercurio||KO||2 (6)||23/01/1931||Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, United States||Mercurio went down 3 times in round 1, and then was counted out in the 2nd.|
|Loss||37-12-6||Babe Hunt||PTS||10||11/08/1930||Braves Field, Boston, Massachusetts, United States|
|Win||37-11-6||Joe Monte||PTS||10||02/07/1930||Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts, United States|
|Loss||36-11-6||Harold Mays||PTS||10||05/06/1930||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey, United States|
|Loss||36-10-6||Billy Jones||UD||10||07/04/1930||Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Loss||36-9-6||Leo Lomski||SD||10||17/01/1930||Coliseum, Chicago, Illinois, United States||Lomski knocked down in 2nd and 5th rounds.|
|Win||36-8-6||Jake Warren||KO||2 (6)||07/12/1929||Ridgewood Grove, Brooklyn, New York, United States|
|Loss||35-8-6||Maxie Rosenbloom||PTS||10||15/11/1929||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|Loss||35-7-6||Yale Okun||PTS||10||27/08/1929||Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Loss||35-6-6||Tommy Loughran||UD||15||18/07/1929||Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, United States||For NYSAC World Light Heavyweight titles. In September 1929 Loughran gave up his claim to the Light Heavyweight Title to compete at heavyweight.|
|Win||35-5-6||Eddie Benson||KO||1 (8)||22/04/1929||Broadway Auditorium, Buffalo, New York, United States|
|Win||34-5-6||Jimmy Slattery||TKO||9 (10)||11/03/1929||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|Win||33-5-6||George Gemas||KO||1 (10)||04/02/1929||Laurel Garden, Newark, New Jersey, United States|
|Loss||32-5-6||Leo Lomski||MD||10||18/01/1929||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|Win||32-4-6||Tuffy Griffiths||TKO||2 (10)||30/11/1928||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States||Griffiths was floored 4 times in the 2nd round.|
|Win||31-4-6||Pete Latzo||PTS||10||17/10/1928||Newark Armory, Newark, New Jersey, United States||Latzo's jaw was broken, and he was forced to cancel his Nov 30 bout with Tuffy Griffiths. Braddock met Griffiths in his place.|
|Loss||30-4-6||Joe Sekyra||PTS||10||08/08/1928||Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, New York, United States||Braddock cut over left eye in 7th.|
|Draw||30-3-6||Nando Tassi||PTS||10||25/07/1928||Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, New York, United States|
|Draw||30-3-5||Billy Vidabeck||NWS||10||27/06/1928||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey, United States||Newspaper decision from New York City area newspapers (Jack Kincaid).|
|Loss||30-3-4||Joe Monte||PTS||10||07/06/1928||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|Win||30-2-4||Jimmy Francis||NWS||10||16/05/1928||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey, United States||Newspaper decision from New York City area newspapers (Jack Kincaid).|
|Win||29-2-4||Jack Darnell||KO||4 (10)||07/05/1928||Grotto Auditorium, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||28-2-4||Paul Swiderski||PTS||8||06/01/1928||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|Draw||27-2-4||Joe Monte||PTS||10||07/10/1927||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|Loss||27-2-3||Herman Heller||NWS||10||21/09/1927||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey, United States||Newspaper decision from New York City area newspapers (Jack Kincaid).|
|Win||27-1-3||Vic McLaughlin||NWS||10||10/08/1927||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey, United States||Newspaper decision from the New York Times.|
|Win||26-1-3||George LaRocco||UD||6||21/07/1927||Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, United States|
|Win||25-1-3||Jimmy Francis||NWS||10||13/07/1927||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey, United States||Newspaper decision from the Philadelphia Record.|
|Win||24-1-3||Jimmy Francis||NWS||10||08/06/1927||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey, United States||Newspaper decision from the New York Times.|
|Loss||23-1-3||Paul Cavalier||NWS||10||27/05/1927||Arcola Park, Paramus, New Jersey, United States||Henry Hascup's record for Cavalier in IBRO #55 shows two Newspaper scores for this fight, 7-3 and 8-2 in favor of Cavalier.|
|Draw||23-0-3||George LaRocco||PTS||6||19/05/1927||Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, United States|
|Win||22-0-2||Jack Stone||NWS||10||19/05/1927||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey, United States||Braddock knocked down for first time in career, but won. (Source: Boxing Blade, May 28, 1927, page 6.)|
|Win||21-0-2||Stanley Simmons||TKO||1 (6)||02/05/1927||Oakland Arena, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States||Simmons down 4 times|
|Win||20-0-2||Frankie Lennon||TKO||3 (6)||19/04/1927||Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||19-0-2||Tom McKiernan||KO||2 (?)||15/03/1927||United States||Bout held during March; possibly Wilkes-Barre.|
|Win||18-0-2||Nick Fadil||PTS||6||08/03/1927||Pioneer Sporting Club, New York City, New York, United States|
|Win||17-0-2||Lou Barba||PTS||4||03/03/1927||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|Win||16-0-2||Jack Nelson||PTS||6||15/02/1927||Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||15-0-2||Johnny Alberts||KO||4 (6)||01/02/1927||Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||14-0-2||George LaRocco||KO||1 (4)||28/01/1927||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|Draw||13-0-2||Doc Conrad||NWS||4||20/12/1926||4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States||Christmas Fund Show. Jersey Journal & Hudson Dispatch both called this a draw.|
|Win||13-0-1||Joe Hudson||PTS||6||08/12/1926||Manhattan A.C., New York City, New York, United States|
|Win||12-0-1||Al Settle||PTS||6||04/12/1926||Walker A.C., New York City, New York, United States|
|Win||11-0-1||Lou Barba||PTS||6||12/11/1926||Pioneer Sporting Club, New York City, New York, United States|
|Win||10-0-1||Carmine Caggiano||KO||1 (6)||30/09/1926||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||9-0-1||Ray Kennedy||KO||1 (6)||16/09/1926||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||8-0-1||Mike Rock||KO||1 (6)||13/09/1926||Oakland Arena, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||7-0-1||Gene Travers||KO||1 (6)||07/09/1926||Oakland Arena, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||6-0-1||Walter Westman||TKO||3 (6)||09/07/1926||Boyle's Thirty Acres, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||5-0-1||Jim Pearson||TKO||2 (?)||28/06/1926||Oakland Arena, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||4-0-1||Leo Dobson||KO||1 (4)||18/06/1926||Boyle's Thirty Acres, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||3-0-1||Willie Daily||KO||1 (?)||03/05/1926||Jersey City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||2-0-1||Jack O'Day||KO||1 (?)||02/05/1926||Jersey City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||1-0-1||Phil Weisberger||KO||2 (6)||22/04/1926||Knights of Columbus, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, United States||Deschner down twice in 1st round.|
|Draw||0-0-1||Al Settle||NWS||4||13/04/1926||Amsterdam Hall, Union City, New Jersey, United States||Jersey Journal & Hudson Dispatch both called this a draw. Pro debut for Braddock.|
- List of heavyweight boxing champions
- Boyle's Thirty Acres
- Joe Louis Arena (located in Detroit, Michigan)
- Cinderella Man (A 2005 film about Braddock)
- James J. Braddock."Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 9: 1971-1975. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1994
- Rounds, Kate. "James J. Braddock Park—North Bergen" Palisade magazine; Summer 2010; Page 16
- Cinderella Man at The Numbers
- "''Cinderella Man'' at Rotten Tomatoes". Rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- Joe Louis, Edna Rust, Art Rust Jr., Joe Louis: My Life
- Joe Louis, 66, Heavyweight King Who Reigned 12 Years, Is Dead, Obituary, NY Times, April 13, 1981.
- Louis' TAX issues
- Jenny Nolan, "The Brown Bomber -- The Man Behind The Fist", The Detroit News
- "Remembering Joe Louis", WTVM
- "The Long Loneliness," by Dorothy Day, 1952
- Official James J. Braddock website (includes videos of some rounds of Braddock's fights with Baer and Louis)
- "James J. Braddock". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2008-02-07.
- Braddock's career record - from the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame
- Collection of critical opinion of Cinderella Man at Rotten Tomatoes
- Braddock's short biography at the International Boxing Hall of Fame
- James Braddock vs Max Baer, 13 June 1935, all rounds
- James Braddock vs Joe Louis, 22 June 1937, all rounds
- Professional boxing record for James J. Braddock from BoxRec
|World Heavyweight Champion