James J. Braddock photograph taken in 1935. Image online courtesy U.S. Library of Congress.
I may not be a great fighter
but I ain’t a bum.
Commenting on his upcoming bout with Max Baer
In the 1920s and '30s, people got the news from newspapers. Favorable reviews of movies (or songs in movies) helped to create film stars. Great write-ups about athletes helped to create sport stars. Damon Runyon
was one of those star-creating newspaper writers.
A celebrity himself, who earned enormous sums for his columns and news reports, Runyon's favorable comments
about a good song ("Thanks for the Memory
") in a poorly reviewed movie (The Big Broadcast of 1938
) helped to launch Bob Hope as a household name in the movie business. Runyon's comments about boxers - at the time the most popular athletes in the world - resonated with a public enduring the disastrous years of the Great Depression.
It was boxing which got Jim Braddock noticed. It was Damon Runyon who first called Braddock the "Cinderella Man."