James J. Braddock

James J. Braddock, boxer , NYC

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James Walter Braddock (June 7, 1905 - November 29, 1974) was an American heavyweight boxing champion.

Fighting under the name James J. Braddock (ostensibly to follow the pattern set by two prior champions, James J. Corbett and James J. Jeffries), his amazing comeback from a floundering career (that saw him lose several bouts before struggling to support his family by working on the docks during the Great Depression) earned him the nickname The Cinderella Man from Damon Runyon. His manager was Joe Gould.


James Walter 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 that made him famous. His Irish Catholic family was poor and wasn't able to provide him with a formal education or with any luxuries of life. Following a successful amateur boxing career where he simultaneously held the amateur championship of New Jersey in the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions, Jim Braddock turned pro at the age of 21, fighting as a light heavyweight. After three years, Braddock's record was 34-5-7 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 championship, but he narrowly lost to Tommy Loughran in a fifteen-round decision. Braddock was greatly depressed by the loss and badly fractured his hand in several places in the process. His career suffered as a result.

His record for the next thirty-three fights was 11-20-2, and he fought with what close friends described as "generalized indifference."[citation needed] With his family in poverty during the Great Depression, Braddock had to give up boxing for a time 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 Dorothy Day and the seasonal Catholic Worker Movement, a Christian socialist organization founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. 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.

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