Thursday, February 11, 2010


The fierce looking fellow above is one Maximillian "Max" Baer who was born this day 1909 in Omaha, Nebraska. The son of a fellow of French/Jewish ancestry, Max turned to professional boxing in 1929, at the age of twenty. A ring tragedy about a year later almost ended his career before it had a chance to get started. Baer fought Frankie Campbell in a match to determine the "unofficial" Pacific Coast Champion. During the 2nd round, Baer slipped to the canvas, and Campbell turned to his corner to await a count. That count did not come, and Baer got off the canvas and hit Campbell in the back of the head with a bit of a "sucker punch." Even though Campbell went on to win the next two rounds, he complained that he felt "something snapped in his head." Baer went on to batter Campbell to the ropes were the only thing Campbell up, Campbell's corner refused to throw in the towel until it was too late. Eventually, Campbell collapsed was counted out, taken to a hospital, and died the next day. It was later determined that Campbell's brain had been knocked completely loose from his skull. Baer was distraught by what happened, and gave several subsequent purses from his fights to Campbell's family. According to his son (the actor Max Baer Jr.), Baer had nightmares about what he did to Campbell for years. In 1933, Baer fought, and beat Max Schmeling (Hitler's boxer) while wearing trunks with the Star of David on them, he vowed to wear the Star in all of his subsequent fights. Baer was an entertainer both in, and out of the ring, and he liked to party. It was his part life style that probably cost him in his most famous bout. He had won the Heavyweight Championship in 1933 by knocking out Italian Primo Carnera. However, in 1935 he fought and lost to James J. Braddock, it was the match on which the movie "Cinderella Man" was based. Baer's talent began to decline, and he retired in 1941 with a career record of 71-13-0 with 53 of his wins coming by knockout. He went on to a halfway decent career in Hollywood, acting in over 20 films. He died of a heart attack at the age of 50. He was, by almost all accounts, a generous and kind man. He was very active in the Fraternal Order of Eagles, who, after his death, helped to raise millions of dollars to help fight heart disease. So for being an entertainer with a generous heart, and a gentle spirit who could knock a grown man completely out, Maximillian Baer (February 11th, 1909- November 21st, 1959, at the age of 50), you are my (171th) hero of the day.

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