Rediscovered: Carnera v. Young

Woke up with an email from Brian Leno lurking in the inbox, and here it is, every word, plus the attachment.

Brian obviously is going full-tilt after his hobby of autograph collecting (Terry Moore and Ben Johnson starred in the Mighty Joe Young flick), with a nod to his known interest in King Kong.

And more obviously, the subjects of boxing and Texas writer Robert E. Howard are surging around in his brain. Bet he’s been knocking down some verbiage for his book on REH and Boxing. Last time he mentioned a word count, I believe it was already at 100,000.

Here’s Brian:


Thought you might get a kick out of this. The guy giving Mighty Joe Young a thumping is Primo Carnera, who won the heavyweight championship from Jack Sharkey, and then lost it about a year later to Max Baer.

Of course it might be a bit goofy to have a photo signed by Terry Moore when she isn’t even in the picture, but hey, it’s my collection.

Paul Gallico, one of the greatest writers to ever dip his pen inside a ring, summarized Primo in his classic essay “Pity the Poor Giant.”

“A giant in stature and strength, a terrible figure of a man, with the might of ten men, he was a helpless lamb among wolves who used him until there was nothing more left to use, until the last possible penny had been squeezed from his big carcass, and then abandoned him.”

Carnera is one of the sad stories of boxing, and of course, there are many.

The man he lost the crown to, Max Baer, beat the crap out of Wild Wilson Dunn in San Antonio, a couple of weeks after Howard’s suicide. Baer, after losing the championship to James J. Braddock, was on the comeback trail, and had a few fights in Texas at that time. If Howard had lived I have no trouble at all seeing him making his way to San Antonio to watch the fracas — wouldn’t have been the first time he saw a boxing match in Alamo Town.

Wild Wilson Dunn was a colorful figure in Texas boxing at that moment, and had stepped into the ring against Kid Dula and Duke Tramel. Not mentioned in the Howard correspondence that has come down to us, I can’t envision Howard not having heard of the fighter.

Anyway, that’s my two cents worth this Friday morning. Don’t know if you’re a fan of Mighty Joe Young or not, but I’ve always enjoyed the chase scene at the end where the cops are going after Joe and the big ape is showing his disdain for the local law enforcement by spitting in their direction. It isn’t King Kong, but still a good movie.

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