Lee Groves

10: Best final acts

5. Jan. 21, 1938, Madison Square Garden, New York – James J. Braddock W 10 Tommy Farr

Braddock was celebrated as boxing’s “Cinderella Man” because of his miraculous rags-to-riches ascent to the heavyweight championship. The title also could have been applied to the manner he ended his hardscrabble 12-year pro career.

Braddock said he always wanted to end his life in the ring with his hand raised but six months after losing the world heavyweight championship to Joe Louis he didn’t pick an easy foe in Tommy Farr. The 25-year-old Welshman was eight years younger than Braddock and in his last outing he had given Louis a difficult time before dropping a decision.

Farr looked every bit the 8-to-5 favorite as his speed and superior boxing ability carried him to a lead. Braddock, however, charged in the final two rounds as he broke Farr’s nose and two of his ribs en route to a split decision. According to several sportswriters, Braddock had never fought a better two rounds than the ones he did against Farr and in the dressing room afterward he showed off a rabbit’s foot charm and a painted horseshoe.

According to a Jan. 31, 1938 article in Time entitled “Horseshoe Man,” Braddock said that John F. Condon, onetime intermediary in the Lindbergh kidnapping case, presented the horseshoe to him just before the Farr fight. Condon, in turn, received that horseshoe from the man who made it in 1896 – former blacksmith and future heavyweight champion Bob Fitzsimmons. “And,” said Braddock, “it’s been lucky ever since.” 

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