James Braddock - Father and Fighter

Tabby Merkle - U.S. History

James Braddock

Born on June 7, 1905 in New York City, Braddock began pro fighting in 1926. He slowly fell out of fighting after losing in 1929 to light heavyweight world champ, Tommy Loughran. Soon after, Braddock married Mae Fox, and they had three children. The Great Depression arose, and along with many others, James lost everything. His fighting career had hit a wall, multiple fighters had become well acquainted with his strategies, and he lost numerous fights. In 1929, Braddock went to hit one of his opponents with his famous right side punch, and the opponent blocked the hit, shattering his right hand.

After the tremendous loss, James Braddock put up the gloves and left the ring. With fighting no longer supporting him, he went back to work on the docks. He repeatedly arrived at the unemployment center to get money to support his family because the docks didn't make him enough money. James was soon given another chance in 1934, after being approached by an old fighting colleague, he was offered the opportunity to fight against John Griffin. Braddock accepted and began training, while keeping his job at the docks to send money back to his family. Braddock won the fight in a surprise upset with a third round knockout to Griffin. Word of Braddock's rise to glory spread like fire throughout New York, and he was given another opportunity to fight.

His next opportunity to fight was against John Henry Lewis, but once again Braddock proved his critics wrong with a victory in the tenth round. In 1935, with the nation at his side, James Braddock was up against Art Lasky. Braddock defeated Lasky in the fifteenth round, and was soon up to be the top heavyweight contender against Max Baer. On the evening of June 13th, 1935, at Madison Square Garden in Long Island, Braddock, the underdog, went into the ring to face Baer. James had spent lots of time studying Baer's technique and knew that he would have a winning chance if he avoided the right cross shot, so that's exactly what he did. In an amazing feat of courage and brawn, James Braddock had defeated Max Baer in fifteen rounds.

Over the next two years, Braddock contended in many fights as heavyweight champ. On June 22nd, 1937, James Braddock defended and lost his heavyweight title to Joe Louis. What many people didn't know however, was that Braddock's manager, Joe Gould, had made a deal prior to the fight that would allow Braddock 10% of the gross with Louis for the next ten years. From 1937 to 1939, he received over $150,000 (over $2 million today) because of Gould's deal. On November 29th, 1974, at the age of 69, James Braddock passed in his sleep. His wife, Mae, moved to Whiting, New Jersey, and passed in 1985.


  • Time frame: 1905 to 1974
  • Location: New York, Eastern US
  • James Braddock's career turn was caused by the Great Depression, a time when stocks dropped to record lows, and banks went bankrupt. The Great Depression was blamed on president Herbert Hoover, for his inability to hire proper coworkers and all the scandals that took place while he was in office.
  • During Braddock's fighting career, he had 51 wins and 85 total fights.