Unbelievable James Braddock Collection With Handwritten Letters
Forget Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger. If you really want to know what “Cinderella Man” Jim Braddock was like, peruse this incredible collection of intensely personal Braddock memorabilia from the late ‘20s through the mid-’30s -- without doubt the most revealing and thorough culling of the unlikely heavyweight champ’s possessions ever made available to the public. Most compelling is Braddock’s tender-hearted love for his wife Mae and their family, which is what drove him to his impossible dream of winning the heavweight crown in 1935 after being regarded as washed-up. Included are numerous letters written by Braddock to Mae during grueling training camps away from their Hortonville, New York home, as well as those from Mae to James. As big and tough as he was, Braddock shows himself to be a soft-hearted, sentimental lug, writing in one letter, “Just a line to my baby to let her know I am always thinking of her.” Another reads: “It’s not so much being here as it is being without you and the kiddies. This weekend will be like an eternity,” and is signed, “Your darling, Jim.” One of May’s letter goes: “I don’t have to tell you dear that I miss you,” and ends with, “Oceans of love and seven hundred more of those kisses, Your sweetheart, Mae.” Not that the couple didn’t have ups and downs. In another, she writes that his last letter made her want to “tear up the one you sent me while we were mad and keep that one in its place.” Other correspondence includes a postcard from Jack Dempsey and two long typewritten letters from a convict in a New Jersey prison with whom Braddock was friends. There are also never-before-seen snapshots (with the original negatives) of Braddock with his family on vacation romps -- including several of Jim and Mae in lovey-dovey poses -- and of him in training, greeting fans, etc., a memo book with handwritten notes, a “Hay Diet” pocket guide with a regimen designed to prevent “acid formation in the system”, a signed pass to Stillman’s Gym, a signed membership card in his own New Jersey social club, a card with the Lord’s Prayer, and a cigar box specifically holding some of his most treasured keepsakes: a ballpoint pen, metal nail file, thimble, a small gold medallion with the image of the Virgin Mary on one side and “Pray For us” on the other, and a simple silver cross that he wore around his neck. Again, these are absolutely one of a kind items, given new and relevant meaning by the renewed interest in Braddock’s amazing story. These long hidden items open the door on a life only partly revealed on the silver screen.