‘Cinderella Man’ James Braddock, the Irish-American boxer who became world champion

Son of Irish immigrants with ‘more brawn than brains’ won 51 victories in 82 fights

James Braddock training in Florida, 1936. Photograph: FPG/Getty Images

James Braddock training in Florida, 1936. Photograph: FPG/Getty Images

Although he considered himself to have “more brawn than brains”, James J. Braddock had an unerring ability to make the best of a bad situation.

The son of an Irish mother and Anglo-Irish father, and born in Hell’s Kitchen in New York in 1905, Braddock faced a difficult path at the beginning of a turbulent century. Indeed, it was the Great Depression that found him at his lowest ebb; forced to turn his back on a floundering boxing career to work as a longshoreman to keep his family from poverty. Once, he had dreamed of playing college football for Notre Dame. It was a disappointment that might have finished a lesser man.

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