Cinderella Man

Published: 2021-09-29 09:20:03
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Category: Cinderella

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I am James J. Braddock. They call me the Cinderella Man. The archetype of all who followed. I was born and raised in New York’s infamous hell’s kitchen. I have always dreamt of defying insurmountable odds. Yet I haven’t always done it on the coliseum called Madison Square Garden just a couple of blocks here from West 48th street. My boxing career had its up’s and down’s. You might be thinking why I was raised in hell’s kitchen but my name doesn’t sound like an American.
Yes, I am Irish yet my family wasn’t affluent just like most Irish immigrants in America. My parents weren’t capable of sending me in a catholic private school. Play football for Knute Rockne’s Fighting Irish of Notre Dame? Tough luck! The only way I would be admitted in that private school is to rob a bank. But that’s not the right way of doing things. That’s not the way I do things. I thrive in adversity. I didn’t earn my nickname for nothing. I earned my monicker the hard way, and believe me it was no fairy tale. From a poor local fighter in New York to the heavyweight champion of the world, do you think it was a fairy tale? I gave up boxing for quite some time. I had to.
The crisis known as the Great Depression has engulfed and overwhelmed the country and its people. It was survival of the fittest and the removal of the unfit. I had to do a bevy of blue-collar jobs just to provide food on the table for my family. “Family comes first. Boxing can wait.” I said to myself. Yet I never stopped dreaming on how to return to boxing and realizing my dream. I always asked myself: how would someone like me perform a feat like that when people are overwhelmed by grief and sadness? America was bleak and desolate. Was I America? No. I am Braddock. James Braddock is from hell’s kitchen.

One day, I had a chance to show the world what I can do inside the ring again. I was pitted with the ranked tow contender for they heavyweight champion of the world. I must admit, those sly promoters saw me as a mere punching bag just to get the show going. After a few minutes, the second best boxer in the world was kissing the floor of the ring, and I was standing there with my arms raised by the astounded referee while the amazed crowd threw a deafening set of applause. There was hope after all in this Great Depression. They gave me hope. I gave them hope as well.
My Humble Beginnings
When I reached 21 in 1926, I decided to turn pro. Ii wasn’t easy for a neophyte boxer like me. I had my first break in the light heavy weight division, and after a couple of wins and losses, I had the chance to fight the champ – Tommy Loughran. It didn’t go well for me. I was considered the underdog. Loughran pummelled me in a heartbreaking 15-round decision that ended with my defeat. The loss made me question myself. I drowned in depression because my right hand which I considered my bestfriend was severely fractured.
And as if it couldn’t get any worse, America was on the verge of being defeated as well. In 1929, the stock market crashed and the world saw a dramatic economic downfall. A plethora of industries and its exportation of goods by countries were affected. Rural areas and the farming industry were hit hard. Cities like New York halted all construction and industrial business affairs were on the brink of massive employee lay-offs. The Big Apple was being rotten by the Great Depression (Estate of James J. Braddock, 2008)
I didn’t let the Great Depression overwhelm me. I thought that one man can make a difference in this period of grief and despair. I had to pull myself and my family from being engulfed by this God-damned depression. I had to give up boxing and worked as a longshoreman. During my stint as a longshoreman, I developed increased strength on my left hand which I frequently use rather than my right hand. My right hand was my bestfriend, but my left hand was my pride.
Like when I returned the money which we received from the government which was inspired by the Catholic Worker Movement to aid the homeless and starving at that time. Homeless? I returned the relief money to them. Call it whatever you want. Pride? Perhaps for you it was. But for me it was more than pride. If I received any monetary help from anyone without working for it, I considered myself a loser. In 1934, my luck changed and I had huge upset victories against Corn Griffin and John Henry Lewis. God was indeed good. This paved the way for my greatest bout ever. A match against the heavyweight champion of the world – Max Baer (Howard, 2005).
My Sweetest Victory: Max Baer
After I downed Griffin and Lewis in 1934, people began calling me the Cinderella Man. My huge comeback to boxing was much celebrated than any sports event in the country. On March 22, 1935, I had again the chance to redeem myself to the world. Art Lansky was supposed to have a title bout against world heavyweight champion Max Baer. Lansky was too clumsy to break his nose just before the bout. I was the replacement (Howard, 2005).
Baer, from what I heard is brutal and relentless whether inside or outside the ring. The guy almost killed two of his opponents. Is he human? I kid myself. Baer already killed a man in the ring, by the name of Frankie Campbell. I didn’t believe he intended to kill Campbell though. I’ve always believe that all men who thrive in violence has always a hint of a funny bone in himself. Specially in this Great Depression, a joke can always command victory over a sea of tears.
Before the fight, I overheard Baer’s handlers who boasted that they picked me to be the replacement because they thought I was a walk-in-the-park opponent for Baer. I was irked. “Braddock is no loser.” I told myself. I’m tired of losing. I had to fight like its breathing. I had to box for my family. I had to breathe for them. After this thought fuelled my enraged mind, I suddenly found myself inside the ring with Baer. Waiting for the bell to ring, I pondered on how I got here and remembered what I’m here for.
“Ding!” The bell rang. It was the linchpin for this slugfest of two pugs. But it wasn’t a mere bout for me. It was redemption. We exchanged blows and traded punches. I retaliated with spirit. After a few minutes, I saw myself standing again. And Baer was kissing the ring pavement. I saw the millions of people giving me the applause I yearned for years. Then I realized this wasn’t my victory alone. This was America’s victory.
I am the Cinderella Man.  The archetype of all who followed.
Howard,Ron.(2005). Cinderella Man.
Estate of James J. Braddock. (2008). Biography of James J. Braddock. Retrieved February 10,2008, from

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