|James J. Braddock|
Braddock in 1935
|Real name||James Walter Braddock|
Bulldog of Bergen|
Pride of the Irish
Pride of New Jersey
|Height||6 ft 2 1⁄2 in (1.89 m)|
|Reach||75 in (191 cm) |
June 7, 1905|
New York, New York, U.S.
November 29, 1974 (aged 69)|
North Bergen, New Jersey, U.S.
|Wins by KO||25|
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.
Braddock was born in Hell's Kitchen in New York City on West 48th Street. He moved to North Bergen, New Jersey at an early age. 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.
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.
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.
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.
|Tommy Farr||SD||10||01/21/1938||Madison Square Garden, New York City||Referee had it 4–4–2, but Braddock on points.|
|Joe Louis||KO||8 (15)||06/22/1937||Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois, United States||Lost World Heavyweight title. Louis down in 1st; Braddock in 8th. NYSAC recognized Louis as Champion on June 30; NBA on July 1.|
|Max Baer||UD||15||06/13/1935||Madison Square Garden Bowl, Long Island City, Queens, New York, United States||Won World Heavyweight title. Baer feinted a knockdown in the 8th round.|
|Art Lasky||UD||15||03/22/1935||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|John Henry Lewis||PTS||10||11/16/1934||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|Corn Griffin||TKO||3 (5)||06/14/1934||Madison Square Garden Bowl, Long Island City, Queens, New York, United States||Both fighters down in second round.|
|Abe Feldman||NC||6 (10)||09/25/1933||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||07/21/1933||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey, United States|
|Les Kennedy||PTS||10||06/21/1933||Oakland Arena, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States|
|Al Stillman||UD||10||06/19/1933||Arena, Saint Louis, Missouri||Stillman down in first; Braddock injured his right hand with the punch. Two judges voted.|
|Martin Levandowski||MD||10||04/05/1933||Arena, Saint Louis, Missouri|
|Al Stillman||TKO||10 (10)||03/21/1933||Arena, Saint Louis, Missouri||Stillman down once in 9th and twice in 10th rounds.|
|Al Ettore||DQ||4 (8)||03/01/1933||Olympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States||Braddock was disqualified for 'not trying'.|
|Hans Birkie||PTS||10||11/09/1932||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States|
|Martin Levandowski||PTS||10||01/13/1933||Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Lou Scozza||TKO||6 (10)||11/09/1932||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||10/21/1932||Legion Stadium, Hollywood, California, United States|
|Dynamite Jackson||PTS||10||09/30/1932||Coliseum, San Diego, California, United States||Jackson down in the 1st round.|
|John Henry Lewis||PTS||10||09/21/1932||Civic Auditorium, San Francisco|
|Tony Shucco||PTS||8||07/25/1932||Madison Square Garden Bowl, Long Island City, Queens, New York|
|Vicente Parrile||PTS||5||06/21/1932||Madison Square Garden Bowl, Long Island City, Queens, New York||Walk–Out Bout after Sharkey won Schmeling.|
|Charley Retzlaff||PTS||10||05/13/1932||Boston Garden, Boston|
|Baxter Calmes||UD||10||03/18/1932||Chicago Stadium, Chicago|
|Al Gainer||PTS||10||12/04/1931||Arena, New Haven, Connecticut|
|Maxie Rosenbloom||NC||2 (10)||11/10/1931||Minneapolis Auditorium, Minneapolis||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||10/09/1931||Madison Square Garden, New York City|
|Draw||40–13–7||Andy Mitchell||PTS||10||09/03/1931||Navin Field, Detroit|
|Win||40–13–6||Jack Kelly||PTS||10||03/30/1931||New Haven Arena|, New Haven, Connecticut|
|Win||39–13–6||Jack Roper||KO||1 (6)||03/05/1931||Madison Square Garden Stadium, Miami|
|Loss||38–13–6||Ernie Schaaf||SD||10||01/23/1931||Madison Square Garden, New York City|
|Win||38–12–6||Phil Mercurio||KO||2 (6)||01/23/1931||Boston Garden, Boston||Mercurio went down 3 times in round 1, and then was counted out in the 2nd.|
|Loss||37–12–6||Babe Hunt||PTS||10||08/11/1930||Braves Field, Boston|
|Win||37–11–6||Joe Monte||PTS||10||07/02/1930||Fenway Park, Boston|
|Loss||36–11–6||Harold Mays||PTS||10||06/05/1930||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey|
|Loss||36–10–6||Billy Jones||UD||10||04/07/1930||Arena, Philadelphia|
|Loss||36–9–6||Leo Lomski||SD||10||17/01/1930||Coliseum, Chicago||Lomski knocked down in 2nd and 5th rounds.|
|Win||36–8–6||Jake Warren||KO||2 (6)||12/07/1929||Ridgewood Grove, Brooklyn, New York|
|Loss||35–8–6||Maxie Rosenbloom||PTS||10||11/15/1929||Madison Square Garden, New York City|
|Loss||35–7–6||Yale Okun||PTS||10||08/27/1929||Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles|
|Loss||35–6–6||Tommy Loughran||UD||15||07/18/1929||Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York||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)||04/22/1929||Broadway Auditorium, Buffalo, New York|
|Win||34–5–6||Jimmy Slattery||TKO||9 (10)||03/11/1929||Madison Square Garden, New York Cit|
|Win||33–5–6||George Gemas||KO||1 (10)||02/04/1929||Laurel Garden, Newark, New Jersey|
|Loss||32–5–6||Leo Lomski||MD||10||01/18/1929||Madison Square Garden, New York City|
|Win||32–4–6||Tuffy Griffiths||TKO||2 (10)||11/30/1928||Madison Square Garden, New York City||Griffiths was floored 4 times in the 2nd round.|
|Win||31–4–6||Pete Latzo||PTS||10||10/17/1928||Newark Armory, Newark, New Jersey||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||Braddock cut over left eye in 7th.|
|Draw||30–3–6||Nando Tassi||PTS||10||07/25/1928||Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, New York|
|Draw||30–3–5||Billy Vidabeck||NWS||10||06/27/1928||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey||Newspaper decision from New York City area newspapers (Jack Kincaid).|
|Loss||30–3–4||Joe Monte||PTS||10||06/07/1928||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York|
|Win||30–2–4||Jimmy Francis||NWS||10||05/16/1928||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey||Newspaper decision from New York City area newspapers (Jack Kincaid).|
|Win||29–2–4||Jack Darnell||KO||4 (10)||05/07/1928||Grotto Auditorium, Jersey City, New Jersey|
|Win||28–2–4||Paul Swiderski||PTS||8||01/06/1928||Madison Square Garden, New York City|
|Draw||27–2–4||Joe Monte||PTS||10||10/07/1927||Madison Square Garden, New York City|
|Loss||27–2–3||Herman Heller||NWS||10||09/21/1927||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey||Newspaper decision from New York City area newspapers (Jack Kincaid).|
|Win||27–1–3||Vic McLaughlin||NWS||10||08/10/1927||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey||Newspaper decision from The New York Times.|
|Win||26–1–3||George LaRocco||UD||6||07/21/1927||Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York|
|Win||25–1–3||Jimmy Francis||NWS||10||07/13/1927||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey||Newspaper decision from the Philadelphia Record.|
|Win||24–1–3||Jimmy Francis||NWS||10||06/08/1927||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey||Newspaper decision from The New York Times.|
|Loss||23–1–3||Paul Cavalier||NWS||10||05/27/1927||Arcola Park, Paramus, New Jersey||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||05/19/1927||Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York|
|Win||22–0–2||Jack Stone||NWS||10||05/19/1927||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey||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)||05/02/1927||Oakland Arena, Jersey City, New Jersey||Simmons down 4 times|
|Win||20–0–2||Frankie Lennon||TKO||3 (6)||04/19/1927||Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania|
|Win||19–0–2||Tom McKiernan||KO||2 (?)||03/15/1927||United States||Bout held during March; possibly Wilkes–Barre.|
|Win||18–0–2||Nick Fadil||PTS||6||03/08/1927||Pioneer Sporting Club, New York City|
|Win||17–0–2||Lou Barba||PTS||4||03/03/1927||Madison Square Garden, New York City|
|Win||16–0–2||Jack Nelson||PTS||6||02/15/1927||Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania|
|Win||15–0–2||Johnny Alberts||KO||4 (6)||02/01/1927||Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania|
|Win||14–0–2||George LaRocco||KO||1 (4)||01/28/1927||Madison Square Garden, New York City|
|Draw||13–0–2||Doc Conrad||NWS||4||12/20/1926||4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey||Christmas Fund Show. Jersey Journal & Hudson Dispatch both called this a draw.|
|Win||13–0–1||Joe Hudson||PTS||6||12/08/1926||Manhattan A.C., New York City|
|Win||12–0–1||Al Settle||PTS||6||12/04/1926||Walker A.C., New York City|
|Win||11–0–1||Lou Barba||PTS||6||11/12/1926||Pioneer Sporting Club, New York City|
|Win||10–0–1||Carmine Caggiano||KO||1 (6)||09/30/1926||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey|
|Win||9–0–1||Ray Kennedy||KO||1 (6)||09/16/1926||Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey|
|Win||8–0–1||Mike Rock||KO||1 (6)||09/13/1926||Oakland Arena, Jersey City, New Jersey|
|Win||7–0–1||Gene Travers||KO||1 (6)||09/07/1926||Oakland Arena, Jersey City, New Jersey|
|Win||6–0–1||Walter Westman||TKO||3 (6)||07/09/1926||Boyle's Thirty Acres, Jersey City, New Jersey|
|Win||5–0–1||Jim Pearson||TKO||2 (?)||06/28/1926||Oakland Arena, Jersey City, New Jersey|
|Win||4–0–1||Leo Dobson||KO||1 (4)||06/18/1926||Boyle's Thirty Acres, Jersey City, New Jersey|
|Win||3–0–1||Willie Daily||KO||1 (?)||05/03/1926||Jersey City, New Jersey|
|Win||2–0–1||Jack O'Day||KO||1 (?)||05/02/1926||Jersey City, New Jersey|
|Win||1–0–1||Phil Weisberger||KO||2 (6)||04/22/1926||Knights of Columbus, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey||Deschner down twice in 1st round.|
|Draw||0–0–1||Al Settle||NWS||4||04/13/1926||Amsterdam Hall, Union City, New Jersey||Jersey Journaland Hudson Dispatch both called this a draw. Pro debut for Braddock.|
| World Heavyweight Champion
June 13, 1935 – June 22, 1937