Category Archives: Prize Fighters Max Baer

The real Max Baer was not at all like the villain in Cinderella Man. Good enough to be the heavyweight champion, Max Baer was a lovable ham, a cut up, and a jokester, who turned out to be not a bad actor at all.

Max Baers fights and the man himself

Was Max Baer a villain as portrayed in Cinderella Man or one of the most likable fighters of the 20th Century?  The following videos show  some of Max Baers fights, plus a few that show the wonderful appeal of the man.

The man behind Max Baers fights had movie star good looks
In real life Max Baer was a handsome showoff, who loved to make people laugh. His clownish behavior no doubt caused him to fall short of the boxer he might have been. When he died, his last words were, “Oh God, here I go.” Over 1500 people attended his funeral. Among his pall bearers were Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis

At heart he was a handsome fun loving comedian with the charisma of a movie star.  Which is exactly what he became out of the ring, performing in nearly 20 movies.   There are ten videos of Max Baer here. Some of you might ask, “Why would I put so many boxing videos out there, especially of Max Baer?

Perhaps it’s because I was once a boxer myself.  I never went even to the Golden Gloves, but I fought enough both in and out of the ring to feel the exhilaration of victory and accomplishment.  Perhaps it’s because all my life I’ve viewed boxing as the greatest sport ever.   Which it is.

There’s nothing else quite like it.  It pits not only one man against another, but the fighter against himself.  He must be able to overcome fatigue that courses throughout his entire body.  He must be in complete control of his mind at all times, especially when his mind keeps telling him to quit.  He must train his body relentlessly so that he is totally fit.  He must be willing to endure both fear and pain.  And he must be able to fight all out for ten and sometimes even fifteen rounds.  He has to be both strong and fast.

In the videos to come, you will see what happens to very large men who are not gifted with speed or skill in the videos to come starting with  the one on this page where Max Baer destroys Primo Carnera for the heavyweight championship.  Later you will see what happened to the six foot seven 245 pound Jess Willard  when he lost the world championship to a hungry 187 pound Jack Dempsey.   You will also see the fight in which Billy Conn,  a slender Light Heavyweight at 175 pounds nearly defeated the 200 pound Joe Louis, one of the greatest heavyweights of all time.  It is my intention on this site not only to put together in one place a large assortment of some of the memorable fights ever.  It is also to provide a sense of the great champions themselves both in and out of the ring.  It is nothing less than to these great boxers back to life here in the Fun House.

This first video is of Max, the man, a man who could have become the most memorable fighter ever, if only he would have taken his fighting more seriously.  Covered here is the real story behind Killer Baer, the man who was vilified in the movie, “Cinderella Man”.   In the movie, Baer is portrayed as a heartless fighter who’s killed two men in the ring.  As you will see in the video, Baer, actually did inflict enough punishment on his opponent to lead to the man’s death the following day.  The difference is the real Max Baer was haunted by the accidental killing which likely cost him the single minded drive to destroy his opponents most true champions possess.

The first video of Max Baers fights is his world championship bout  against Primo Carnera.  At six foot six and weighing in for his fights as much as 275 pounds Carnera was a giant in a world when the average male was only five foot six inches tall.  Obviously such a giant among men could enjoy enormous appeal as a fighter.   So the story goes that Carnera became a creature of organized crime, which carefully nurtured his career.  Eventually Carnera became world champion after a History of beating up on unskilled boxers that were reputedly hand picked by the mob.  Then there were the more skilled boxers Carnera dispatched who had taken dives for their mobster bosses.  Eventually Carnera was forced to fight a high quality fighter.  That fighter was Max Baer, and you can see what happens to Carnera when he has to fight a real fighter in the following video.

Max Baer would later star in The Prizefighter and the Lady, a film, that is closely based on the career of Primo Carnera.  Keep in mind that this 1933 film actually preceded the championship fight between Baer and Carnera.  One year later in 1934, the Primo Carnera-Max Baer bout is for real, but this time, Baer slaughters the inept Carnera.  Which makes it one of the most interesting of Max Baers fights.

poster of the movie Prizefighter and the Lady starring Max Baer
Ironically in this film Max Baer plays the actor who’s fighting a real Primo Carnera who’s not playing himself but a made up character based on the mob controlled Primo Carnera.

The film features performances from the real Jack Dempsey as well as Primo Carnera.

Max Baer training.  If you think that boxing in the ring is easy just try to go a single three minute round with someone with gloves on.  My step grandfather, who taught me how to box, used to train as an amateur fighter on the speed bag and heavy bag then he’d spar a few rounds with a friend, and after that the pair would jog 18 miles from Staunton, Illinois to Litchfield to complete their training session.  

This  second of Max Baer’s fights is of his match against Max Schmeling in 1933.  Schmeling  had been crowned world champion in 1930 after suffering from a low blow from the reigning world champion Jack Sharkey.    Sharkey would win the title back from  Schmeling in 1932 due to a controversial split decision.  Future world champion, Gene Tunney, would claim that Schmeling was the better man and had been robbed.

And this is Max Baer telling the press about his chances in his upcoming fight with James Braddock.  This is the same fight that’s recently been popularized in the movie, “Cinderella Man“.

Steve Bierko as Max Baer
Steve Bierko playing the villain, Max Baer, in “Cinderella Man”

So take Max Baer’s measure in this short film and ask yourselves, “Is this the same Max Baer, we saw Craig Bierko play in Cinderella Man?”

The third is when he lost his title to James Braddock, the Cinderella Man.

And here he is in the movies, in “Prizefighter and the Lady”.

Last fight is against Joe Louis.

Interview of Max Baer with Joe Louis several years after their fight.

Max Baer in “Fisticuffs”.   Once again, he’s in the movies.

Last, is Max Baer in The Harder They Fall.  It’s 1956, almost twenty years since Baer’s fought Schmeling and Louis.  And Baer’s acting alongside Humphrey Bogart and Rod Steiger, two of the finest actors in the business.  I tried to put up a 7 1/2 minute segment of this film after gathering bits and pieces of the original film, putting it into my video editing program and figured since I had only very short clips I could get around the copyright infringement issues, but this was not to be.  I was immediately flagged by You Tube as in only minutes.  This is a great film to watch, however, as it mirrors both Max Baer’s career and Primo Carnera’s.    But in this film, Max Baer plays the bad guy, who’s killed a man in the ring while the Carnera part is played by Mike Lane.  It is Humphrey Bogart’s last film.  An older and much more mature Max Baer shows solid acting credentials in this film.  Also appearing in the movie is Jersey Joe Walcott, who won the Heavyweight title in 1951.

This set the stage for the much later movie, “Cinderella Man” depicting Max Baer as an arrogant villain.  The videos I’ve collected here should present a much more accurate picture of Max Baer.  Up next will be Joe Louis.