This is the second part of Jim Quinn’s two-part article examining the similarities between the Great Depression and today’s Greater Depression. For Part One, click here. From Quinn at theburningplatform.com:
In Part One of this article I made a fact based case that most Americans are experiencing an economic depression on par with the Great Depression of the 1930’s. In Part Two I will compare and contrast two very different men who raised the spirits of the common man during difficult economic times. As we approach the perilous portion of this Fourth Turning, it will take more than hope to get us through to the other side.
Likening Braddock to Trump might seem far-fetched, until you think about parallels between the economic conditions during the 1930’s and today, along with the deepening mood of crisis, despair and anger at the establishment. Braddock’s career coincided with the last Fourth Turning. James J. Braddock was born in 1905, to Irish immigrant parents Joseph Braddock and Elizabeth O’Toole Braddock in a tiny apartment on West 48th Street in New York City. His life personified that of a GI Generation hero. One of seven children, Jimmy enjoyed playing marbles, baseball and hanging around the old swimming hole on the edge of the Hudson River as a youngster. He discovered his passion for boxing as a teenager.
Braddock refined his skills as an amateur fighter and in 1926 entered the professional boxing circuit in the light heavyweight division. Braddock overwhelmed the competition, knocking out multiple opponents in the early rounds of most fights. As a top light heavyweight, he stood over six feet two inches, but seldom weighed over 180 pounds. But his powerful right hand was no match for opponents that weighed close to 220 pounds. His star was ascending. He earned a shot at the title in 1929. On the evening of July 18th 1929, Braddock entered the ring at Yankee Stadium to face Tommy Loughran for the coveted light heavyweight championship. Loghran avoided Braddock’s deadly right hand for 15 rounds and won by decision. Less than two months later the stock market crashed and the country plunged into the Great Depression.
As thousands of banks failed and unemployment swept over the land like a plague, Braddock, like so many other millions of Americans lost everything. He labored to win fights so he could put food on the table for his wife and three young children. His career hit the skids as he lost sixteen of twenty-two fights and shattered his right hand landing a punch. As his boxing career spiraled downward, like the economy, he ended up working on the docks as a longshoreman. When even that job couldn’t feed his family, Jim swallowed his pride, hung up his boxing gloves and filed for government relief to help support his family. The strength, spirit and tenacity that had made him a contender were drained from his demeanor. He became just another down on his luck palooka struggling to survive during the Great Depression.
Thanks to a last-minute cancellation by another boxer, Braddock’s longtime manager and friend, Joe Gould, offered him a chance to fill in for just one night and earn cash. The fight was against the number-two contender in the world, Corn Griffin, on the undercard of the heavyweight championship fight between Max Baer and Primo Carnera. Braddock stunned the boxing experts and fans with a third-round knockout of his formidable opponent. He believed that while his right hand was broken, he became more proficient with his left hand, improving his boxing ability. Over the next nine months he upset John Henry Lewis and Art Lasky to become an unlikely contender for the heavyweight title of the world.
To continue reading: The Anti-Cinderella Man (Part Two)