James J. Braddock

James J. Braddock
Jim Braddock.jpg
Braddock in 1935
Real nameJames Walter Braddock
Nickname(s)Bulldog of Bergen
Pride of the Irish
Pride of New Jersey
Cinderella Man
Light heavyweight
Height6 ft 2 12 in (1.89 m)
Reach75 in (191 cm)
Born(1905-06-07)June 7, 1905
New York, New York, U.S.
DiedNovember 29, 1974(1974-11-29) (aged 69)
North Bergen, New Jersey, U.S.
Boxing record
Total fights86
Wins by KO25
No contests2

James Walter Braddock (June 8, 1905 – November 29, 1974) was an American boxer who was the world heavyweight champion from 1935 to 1937.

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), Braddock was known for his spoiling, counterpunching style, powerful right hand and his iron chin. 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. He made a comeback, and 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.

Early life

Braddock was born in Hell's Kitchen in New York City on West 48th Street. He was one of seven children being raised by immigrant parents; Irish mother Elizabeth O'Tool and Anglo-Irish father Joseph Braddock. He stated his life's early ambition was to play college football for Knute Rockne at the University of Notre Dame, but he had "more brawn than brains."


Braddock pursued boxing, turning pro at the age of 21, fighting as a light heavyweight. His first fight in a ring occurred on November 27, 1923. After three years, Braddock's record was 44–2–2 (.938), with 21 knockouts.

In 1928, Braddock 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 next 33 fights were significantly less successful, with a 11–20–2 (.364) record. 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.

Max Baer fight

Braddock (left) and Joe Gould (center), training as officers at the Atlantic Coast Transportation Corps Officers Training School in Fort Slocum, New York

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, but Braddock did. "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, despite his recent impressive victories. 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 what was called "the greatest fistic upset since the defeat of John L. Sullivan by Jim Corbett".

During the fight, a dogged Braddock took a few heavy hits from the powerful younger champion (30 years versus 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.

Heavyweight Champion

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. There was also concern that if Schmeling won, the Nazi government would deny American fighters opportunities to fight for the title. Finally, American commentators had expressed opposition to the fight in light of the connections between Schmeling and Adolf Hitler, with whom the German fighter had been associated after his earlier victory over Louis.

Personal life

Braddock married Mae Fox in 1930 and the couple had three children, James (Jay), Howard and Rosemarie.

Braddock enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and became a first lieutenant. He served in the Pacific theater on the island of Saipan, where he trained enlisted men in hand-to-hand combat.

Upon return, he worked as a marine equipment surplus supplier and helped construct the Verrazano Bridge in the early 1960s.

Death and legacy

James J. Braddock North Hudson Park in North Bergen, New Jersey

After 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 Braddock's story. Directed by Ron Howard, it stars 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.

Professional boxing record

2 NC
United KingdomTommy FarrSD1001/21/1938United StatesMadison Square Garden, New York CityReferee had it 4–4–2, but Braddock on points.
2 NC
United StatesJoe LouisKO8 (15)06/22/1937United StatesComiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois, United StatesLost World Heavyweight title. Louis down in 1st; Braddock in 8th. NYSAC recognized Louis as Champion on June 30; NBA on July 1.
2 NC
United StatesMax BaerUD1506/13/1935United StatesMadison Square Garden Bowl, Long Island City, Queens, New York, United StatesWon World Heavyweight title. Baer feinted a knockdown in the 8th round.
2 NC
United StatesArt LaskyUD1503/22/1935United StatesMadison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States
2 NC
United StatesJohn Henry LewisPTS1011/16/1934United StatesMadison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States
2 NC
United StatesCorn GriffinTKO3 (5)06/14/1934United StatesMadison Square Garden Bowl, Long Island City, Queens, New York, United StatesBoth fighters down in second round.
2 NC
United StatesAbe FeldmanNC6 (10)09/25/1933United StatesMemorial Field Stadium, Mount Vernon, New York, United StatesBenefit for Mt. Vernon Police Department Home Relief Fund. Braddock broke his right hand.
1 NC
United StatesChester MatanPTS1007/21/1933United StatesPlaygrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey, United States
1 NC
United StatesLes KennedyPTS1006/21/1933United StatesOakland Arena, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States
1 NC
United StatesAl StillmanUD1006/19/1933United StatesArena, Saint Louis, MissouriStillman down in first; Braddock injured his right hand with the punch. Two judges voted.
1 NC
United StatesMartin LevandowskiMD1004/05/1933United StatesArena, Saint Louis, Missouri
1 NC
United StatesAl StillmanTKO10 (10)03/21/1933United StatesArena, Saint Louis, MissouriStillman down once in 9th and twice in 10th rounds.
1 NC
United StatesAl EttoreDQ4 (8)03/01/1933United StatesOlympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United StatesBraddock was disqualified for 'not trying'.
1 NC
GermanyHans BirkiePTS1011/09/1932United StatesMadison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States
1 NC
United StatesMartin LevandowskiPTS1001/13/1933United StatesChicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, United States
1 NC
United StatesLou ScozzaTKO6 (10)11/09/1932United StatesBill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California, United StatesBraddock stopped with a cut left eye; he had been cut in the Patrick fight.
1 NC
United StatesTom PatrickPTS1010/21/1932United StatesLegion Stadium, Hollywood, California, United States
1 NC
United StatesDynamite JacksonPTS1009/30/1932United StatesColiseum, San Diego, California, United StatesJackson down in the 1st round.
1 NC
United StatesJohn Henry LewisPTS1009/21/1932United StatesCivic Auditorium, San Francisco
1 NC
United StatesTony ShuccoPTS807/25/1932United StatesMadison Square Garden Bowl, Long Island City, Queens, New York
1 NC
ArgentinaVicente ParrilePTS506/21/1932United StatesMadison Square Garden Bowl, Long Island City, Queens, New YorkWalk–Out Bout after Sharkey won Schmeling.
1 NC
United StatesCharley RetzlaffPTS1005/13/1932United StatesBoston Garden, Boston
1 NC
United StatesBaxter CalmesUD1003/18/1932United StatesChicago Stadium, Chicago
1 NC
United StatesAl GainerPTS1012/04/1931United StatesArena, New Haven, Connecticut
1 NC
United StatesMaxie RosenbloomNC2 (10)11/10/1931United StatesMinneapolis Auditorium, MinneapolisBraddock 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.
Loss40–14–7United StatesJoe SekyraPTS1010/09/1931United StatesMadison Square Garden, New York City
Draw40–13–7United StatesAndy MitchellPTS1009/03/1931United StatesNavin Field, Detroit
Win40–13–6United StatesJack KellyPTS1003/30/1931United StatesNew Haven Arena|, New Haven, Connecticut
Win39–13–6United StatesJack RoperKO1 (6)03/05/1931United StatesMadison Square Garden Stadium, Miami
Loss38–13–6United StatesErnie SchaafSD1001/23/1931United StatesMadison Square Garden, New York City
Win38–12–6United StatesPhil MercurioKO2 (6)01/23/1931United StatesBoston Garden, BostonMercurio went down 3 times in round 1, and then was counted out in the 2nd.
Loss37–12–6United StatesBabe HuntPTS1008/11/1930United StatesBraves Field, Boston
Win37–11–6United StatesJoe MontePTS1007/02/1930United StatesFenway Park, Boston
Loss36–11–6United StatesHarold MaysPTS1006/05/1930United StatesPlaygrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey
Loss36–10–6United StatesBilly JonesUD1004/07/1930United StatesArena, Philadelphia
Loss36–9–6United StatesLeo LomskiSD1017/01/1930United StatesColiseum, ChicagoLomski knocked down in 2nd and 5th rounds.
Win36–8–6United StatesJake WarrenKO2 (6)12/07/1929United StatesRidgewood Grove, Brooklyn, New York
Loss35–8–6United StatesMaxie RosenbloomPTS1011/15/1929United StatesMadison Square Garden, New York City
Loss35–7–6United StatesYale OkunPTS1008/27/1929United StatesOlympic Auditorium, Los Angeles
Loss35–6–6United StatesTommy LoughranUD1507/18/1929United StatesYankee Stadium, Bronx, New YorkFor NYSAC World Light Heavyweight titles. In September 1929 Loughran gave up his claim to the Light Heavyweight Title to compete at heavyweight.
Win35–5–6United StatesEddie BensonKO1 (8)04/22/1929United StatesBroadway Auditorium, Buffalo, New York
Win34–5–6United StatesJimmy SlatteryTKO9 (10)03/11/1929United StatesMadison Square Garden, New York Cit
Win33–5–6United StatesGeorge GemasKO1 (10)02/04/1929United StatesLaurel Garden, Newark, New Jersey
Loss32–5–6United StatesLeo LomskiMD1001/18/1929United StatesMadison Square Garden, New York City
Win32–4–6United StatesTuffy GriffithsTKO2 (10)11/30/1928United StatesMadison Square Garden, New York CityGriffiths was floored 4 times in the 2nd round.
Win31–4–6United StatesPete LatzoPTS1010/17/1928United StatesNewark Armory, Newark, New JerseyLatzo's jaw was broken, and he was forced to cancel his Nov 30 bout with Tuffy Griffiths. Braddock met Griffiths in his place.
Loss30–4–6United StatesJoe SekyraPTS1008/08/1928United StatesEbbets Field, Brooklyn, New YorkBraddock cut over left eye in 7th.
Draw30–3–6ItalyNando TassiPTS1007/25/1928United StatesEbbets Field, Brooklyn, New York
Draw30–3–5United StatesBilly VidabeckNWS1006/27/1928United StatesPlaygrounds Stadium, West New York, New JerseyNewspaper decision from New York City area newspapers (Jack Kincaid).
Loss30–3–4United StatesJoe MontePTS1006/07/1928United StatesMadison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Win30–2–4United StatesJimmy FrancisNWS1005/16/1928United StatesPlaygrounds Stadium, West New York, New JerseyNewspaper decision from New York City area newspapers (Jack Kincaid).
Win29–2–4United StatesJack DarnellKO4 (10)05/07/1928United StatesGrotto Auditorium, Jersey City, New Jersey
Win28–2–4United StatesPaul SwiderskiPTS801/06/1928United StatesMadison Square Garden, New York City
Draw27–2–4United StatesJoe MontePTS1010/07/1927United StatesMadison Square Garden, New York City
Loss27–2–3GermanyHerman HellerNWS1009/21/1927United StatesPlaygrounds Stadium, West New York, New JerseyNewspaper decision from New York City area newspapers (Jack Kincaid).
Win27–1–3United StatesVic McLaughlinNWS1008/10/1927United StatesPlaygrounds Stadium, West New York, New JerseyNewspaper decision from The New York Times.
Win26–1–3United StatesGeorge LaRoccoUD607/21/1927United StatesYankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Win25–1–3United StatesJimmy FrancisNWS1007/13/1927United StatesPlaygrounds Stadium, West New York, New JerseyNewspaper decision from the Philadelphia Record.
Win24–1–3United StatesJimmy FrancisNWS1006/08/1927United StatesPlaygrounds Stadium, West New York, New JerseyNewspaper decision from The New York Times.
Loss23–1–3United StatesPaul CavalierNWS1005/27/1927United StatesArcola Park, Paramus, New JerseyHenry Hascup's record for Cavalier in IBRO #55 shows two Newspaper scores for this fight, 7–3 and 8–2 in favor of Cavalier.
Draw23–0–3United StatesGeorge LaRoccoPTS605/19/1927United StatesYankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Win22–0–2United StatesJack StoneNWS1005/19/1927United StatesPlaygrounds Stadium, West New York, New JerseyBraddock knocked down for first time in career, but won. (Source: Boxing Blade, May 28, 1927, page 6.)
Win21–0–2United StatesStanley SimmonsTKO1 (6)05/02/1927United StatesOakland Arena, Jersey City, New JerseySimmons down 4 times
Win20–0–2United StatesFrankie LennonTKO3 (6)04/19/1927United StatesWilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Win19–0–2United StatesTom McKiernanKO2 (?)03/15/1927 United StatesBout held during March; possibly Wilkes–Barre.
Win18–0–2LebanonNick FadilPTS603/08/1927United StatesPioneer Sporting Club, New York City
Win17–0–2United StatesLou BarbaPTS403/03/1927United StatesMadison Square Garden, New York City
Win16–0–2United StatesJack NelsonPTS602/15/1927United StatesWilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Win15–0–2United StatesJohnny AlbertsKO4 (6)02/01/1927United StatesWilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Win14–0–2United StatesGeorge LaRoccoKO1 (4)01/28/1927United StatesMadison Square Garden, New York City
Draw13–0–2United StatesDoc ConradNWS412/20/1926United States4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New JerseyChristmas Fund Show. Jersey Journal & Hudson Dispatch both called this a draw.
Win13–0–1United StatesJoe HudsonPTS612/08/1926United StatesManhattan A.C., New York City
Win12–0–1United StatesAl SettlePTS612/04/1926United StatesWalker A.C., New York City
Win11–0–1United StatesLou BarbaPTS611/12/1926United StatesPioneer Sporting Club, New York City
Win10–0–1United StatesCarmine CaggianoKO1 (6)09/30/1926United StatesPlaygrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey
Win9–0–1United StatesRay KennedyKO1 (6)09/16/1926United StatesPlaygrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey
Win8–0–1United StatesMike RockKO1 (6)09/13/1926United StatesOakland Arena, Jersey City, New Jersey
Win7–0–1United StatesGene TraversKO1 (6)09/07/1926United StatesOakland Arena, Jersey City, New Jersey
Win6–0–1United StatesWalter WestmanTKO3 (6)07/09/1926United StatesBoyle's Thirty Acres, Jersey City, New Jersey
Win5–0–1United StatesJim PearsonTKO2 (?)06/28/1926United StatesOakland Arena, Jersey City, New Jersey
Win4–0–1United StatesLeo DobsonKO1 (4)06/18/1926United StatesBoyle's Thirty Acres, Jersey City, New Jersey
Win3–0–1United StatesWillie DailyKO1 (?)05/03/1926United StatesJersey City, New Jersey
Win2–0–1United StatesJack O'DayKO1 (?)05/02/1926United StatesJersey City, New Jersey
Win1–0–1United StatesPhil WeisbergerKO2 (6)04/22/1926United StatesKnights of Columbus, Ridgefield Park, New JerseyDeschner down twice in 1st round.
Draw0–0–1United StatesAl SettleNWS404/13/1926United StatesAmsterdam Hall, Union City, New JerseyJersey Journaland Hudson Dispatch both called this a draw. Pro debut for Braddock.

See also


External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Max Baer
World Heavyweight Champion
June 13, 1935 – June 22, 1937
Succeeded by
Joe Louis
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "James J. Braddock", which is released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.