HEAVYWEIGHT FIGHTS COULD BE SO EXCITING back in the 20's and 30's that boxing fans sometimes dropped dead
while listening to the live radio broadcasts. The new movie Cinderella Man
brings that excitement to the screen in the true tale of James J. Braddock
, Heavyweight Champion of the World from 1935 to 1937. Some highlights from TIME's coverage of Braddock and other boxing greats:
William Harrison Dempsey, American heavyweight, has sat immovable on the stool reserved for world's champions since July 4, 1919.
From "Good Old Jack"
Sep. 10, 1923
Since Carnera arrived in the U. S. almost two years ago (in an extra-large berth specially constructed for him on S.S. Olympic) he has established himself as the most thoroughly publicized if not the ablest pugilist in history.
From Misfortunes of a Monster
Oct. 5, 1931
Prizefighter Ernie Schaaf who died after his ring hammering from monstrous Primo Camera was buried at Wrentham, Mass, last week without his brain.
From Prizefighters' Brains
Feb. 27, 1933
Steady, savage, relentless, boxing with the enthusiasm that characterized his style ten years ago, the skill he has acquired in the course of a long and dismal career, Braddock was fighting the bout of a lifetime.
From Braddock Over Lasky
Apr. 1, 1935
In the eighth round Braddock sent a harmless blow to Baer's chin. And, again going comic, Baer electrified the crowd by staggering about in a circle, then straightening up with a great laugh and repulsing the hopeful challenger.
From New Champion
Jun. 24, 1935
The end came in the sixth. Bland, graceful, incorrigibly calm, Louis stalked Carnera across the ring, drove a right to his jaw. Carnera fell, dragged himself up, crashed down again, with another right to the jaw.
From Bomber, Assassin, Slasher
Jul. 8, 1935
Braddock, pinned momentarily against the ropes, caught Louis with a short right uppercut that knocked his opponent off his feet. Louis jumped up without a count, managed to keep out of trouble for the rest of the round.
To the crowd, which had installed Louis as a 1-to-3 favorite but hoped Braddock would win, that knockdown was a happy surprise.
From Heavyweight Handiwork
Jul. 5, 1937
Probably about 50,000,000 radio-fight fans will listen in for good reason. Not only is Lou Nova about as likely to beat Joe Louis as any challenger now afoot, but even if Joe Louis wins—and the chances, as always, are better that he will than that he won't—it may be Joe's last fight.
From Black Moses
Sep. 29, 1941
From the instant the bell sounded, Sugar Ray Robinson was the master craftsman who knew just what he was doing—the best fighter, pound for pound, in the world.
From Businessman Boxer
Jun. 25, 1951
Cassius Clay is Hercules, struggling through the twelve labors. He is Jason, chasing the Golden Fleece. He is Galahad, Cyrano, D'Artagnan. When he scowls, strong men shudder, and when he smiles, women swoon.
From The Dream
Mar. 22, 1963
He can hit as hard as a drop hammer, and his hands are quick enough to pluck a fly in midair. But Welterweight Emile Griffith, 26, is a reluctant champion.
From The Family Man
Apr. 9, 1965
Shrewd prefight publicity has turned the billing into Frazier the good citizen v. Ali the draft dodger, Frazier the white man's champ v. Ali the great black hope, Frazier the quiet loner v. Ali the irrepressible loudmouth, Frazier the simple Bible-reading Baptist v. Ali the slogan-spouting Black Muslim.
From Bull v. Butterfly: A Clash of Champions
Mar. 8, 1971
Ali tried. He flicked the famous snakelike jab, laced together combinations and shot rights to Spinks' head. It was exquisitely conceived boxing from Ali, the aesthetician of ring art.
From "The Greatest" Is Gone
Feb. 27, 1978
Only the most expendable men are boxers. All of the fighters who ever died -- nearly 500 since 1918, when the Ring book started to keep tabs -- haven't the political constituency of a solitary suburban child who falls off a trampoline.
From Boxing's Allure
By Tom Callahan
Jun. 27, 1988
Students of boxing will pore over the trio of Ali-Frazier fights, which rank among the greatest in fistic history, as one might read three acts of a great drama. They would remember the shenanigans, the Ali Shuffle, the Rope-a-Dope, the fact that Ali had brought beauty and grace to the most uncompromising of sports.
From TIME 100: The Greatest
By George Plimpton
Jun. 14, 1999
The entry of Ali (a.k.a. Madame Butterfly) and Frazier-Lyde (Sister Smoke) into the pros ... has brought a wave of visibility, and renewed heat, to women's boxing.
From Diamonds In The Ring
By Harriet Barovick
May 01, 2000
But at a time when boxing has few stars and pro wrestling verges on cartoonish, ultimate fighting has a new appeal and is heading for mainstream entertainment.
From The New Rules of Fight Club
By Howard Chua-Eoan
Sep. 19, 2005
It's no coincidence that Thai women's prisons are producing such a steady stream of boxing contenders -- both Siriporn and Wannee are products of a prison boxing camp started by correction officials hoping to provide women prisoners with a steady source of income after their release.
From How the Black Rose Punched Her Way Out of Jail
By Hannah Beech
June 07, 2007