Boxing book review: Braddock – The Rise of the Cinderella Man

BraddockHagueSMI have  several books related to boxing in my possession.  One of which is Braddock – The Rise of the Cinderella Man by Jim Hague published by Chamberlain Bros..  If you hadn’t already guessed from the title, the book is biography about former heavyweight champion and former light-heavyweight contender James J. Braddock.   The following are some thoughts about this book.

LamottaCerdanI’m not big on reading books large enough to give my arm a cramp from holding it.  I was happy to see that this book is under 170 pages in length.  Sadly, there aren’t many photos in this book; less than twenty.  One of the photos was placed in the book in error.  The caption underneath states that we’re looking at Max Baer versus Primo Carnera, but it is clearly not them.  If I’m not mistaken, it looks like Jake Lamotta versus Mercel Cerdan; middleweights, not heavyweights.

The book doesn’t try to get too deep or philosophical.  It simply states the facts of Jimmy Braddock’s life in chronological fashion.  For those that do not know why Braddock was called the Cinderella Man, let me explain.  He and the rest of the United States were suffering through a time called The Great Depression.  Most Americans were living in poverty due to the Wall Street crash of 1929.  Braddock and his family were suffering as well: lack of jobs and constant injuries suffered in the ring gave Jimmy very little opportunity to pay the bills and provide for his family.  His luck changed and he started beating solid heavyweight contenders.  Basically going from rags to riches like the story of Cinderella.

This book gives a pretty good account of Braddock’s rise up the professional ladder, covering most of his significant fights starting with his time in the light-heavyweight ranks where he was originally a viable contender.  My only gripe with the book is when it discusses a possible fight between Jimmy Braddock and Max Schmeling.  The author of the book declares that Gould, Braddock’s manager, “didn’t want to see a Nazi get the first crack at Braddock’s crown.”  The problem with that statement is that it is not in quotes.  Did Gould say that directly or is the author implying that Schmeling is a Nazi?  Most people who know of Max Schmeling either personally or through literature, know that he was a German, but Nazi he was not.

I recommend this book if you’re looking to learn about the legacy of Jimmy Braddock in quick fashion and to get an idea of the times he lived.

About the Author

Justin M. Salvato
Justin M. Salvato is the creator & owner of BOXING 4 FREE. He's a former amateur boxer, former USA Boxing coach, and former boxing fitness instructor. These days he enjoys vintage computing, retro video games, and talking tech. He also writes a blog about the Coleco ADAM computer and Life with Microsoft.

2 Comments on "Boxing book review: Braddock – The Rise of the Cinderella Man"

  1. Fair enough review. As for Schmeling that was Gould’s take on him, not knowing the truth about him, assuming like most others back then that all Germans were Nazis. Of course Gould thought that way because he was Jewish. Thanks for reading the book. As you posted its now very expensive to buy. All my best.

    • I should have made that clear that Gould (as you just pointed out), like most everyone else at the time, assumed the worse of Schmeling because of his connection to Nazi Germany. Thanks for writing this book and commenting Jim. Braddock was a great guy and anyone would have been better for knowing him.

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