Buddy Baer

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Buddy Baer

Name: Buddy Baer
Birth Name: Jacob Henry Baer
Born: 1915-06-11
Birthplace: Denver, Colorado, USA
Died: 1986-07-18 (Age:71)
Hometown: Sacramento, California, USA
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 6′ 6″   /   198cm
Reach: 84″   /   213cm
Boxing Record: click

Division: Heavyweight
Manager: Ancil Hoffman
Trainer: Izzy Klein
Buddy Baer Photo Gallery

Career Overview

Buddy Baer (right) with older brother Max Baer in 1937
Buddy Baer training in 1941

Like his more famous older brother, former World Heavyweight Champion Max Baer, Buddy Baer was a popular heavyweight boxer during the 1930s and early 1940s.

Though he possessed little of Max's show-stealing charisma and never won the World Heavyweight Championship, Buddy did defeat a few noteworthy contenders and earned himself two shots at World Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis during his eight-year pro career.

Known primarily for his size (6' 6") and punching power (49 knockouts in 53 wins), Buddy Baer was ranked as the 69th greatest puncher of all-time by The Ring Yearbook in 2003. Max Baer was ranked 22nd.

Early Career

Jacob Henry "Buddy" Baer was born June 11, 1915, to Jacob and Dora Baer in Denver, Colorado. Shortly after his birth, the Baer family moved to Durango, Colorado.

The family relocated again in 1922, this time to Livermore, California, where Jacob Baer purchased the Twin Oaks Ranch. Raising cattle and hogs, the family thrived.

Max and Buddy developed their famous physiques working on the family ranch, swinging an ax and hauling the heavy carcasses of cattle and hogs.

Inspired by the ring success of Max, Buddy decided to become a professional prizefighter. He made his professional debut on September 23, 1934, three months after Max knocked out Primo Carnera to win the World Heavyweight Championship. Buddy, who had no amateur experience, scored a first-round knockout against the Redwood Giant, Tiny Abbott, who stood at a monstrous 6' 8" tall.

After winning his first thirteen fights by knockout, nine in the first round, Baer suffered his first defeat. On January 10, 1935, he was outpointed over four rounds by Babe Hunt, a veteran of more than 100 bouts, in Boston.

Over the next couple of years, Baer continued to develop his ring skills and build his record against largely unknown opponents. Despite decision losses against Ford Smith and Andre Lenglet, he won the vast majority of his fights by knockout, including a first-round knockout of Babe Hunt in September 1936, and was considered a rising prospect.

Contender

On August 30, 1937, Baer took on his first highly regarded opponent, New York's own rising prospect, Abe Simon, at Yankee Stadium. After weathering an early attack from the 250-pound Simon, Baer rebounded to force a third-round stoppage.

A match-up with Gunnar Barlund in Madison Square Garden the following March did not fare so well, as Baer suffered the first stoppage loss of his career in the seventh round. But Baer again rebounded, running off another sequence of impressive knockouts to put himself back in contention for big paydays.

On May 3, 1940, Baer appeared in the Garden for the first time since the loss to Barland. This time he faced Nathan Mann, a veteran contender from Hamden, Connecticut, who had battled Joe Louis for the World Heavyweight Championship two years prior. Mann was undefeated in his previous eight bouts, but was forced to quit in the seventh against Baer.

Now solidly ranked among the best heavyweights in the world, Baer strung off a couple of quick knockouts against over-matched opponents before taking on "Two Ton" Tony Galento, a beer-swilling, tough-talking, hard-punching former title challenger who had been in brutal slugfests with both Joe Louis and Max Baer. In a showdown of two of the division's most feared punchers, Galento quit in the seventh round, claiming an injured left hand.

Challenging Joe Louis

Buddy Baer knocks Joe Louis out of the ring on May 23, 1941
Joe Louis knocks out Buddy Baer on January 9, 1942

On May 23, 1941, Baer fought Joe Louis at Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C. for the World Heavyweight Championship. This was Louis' sixth title defense in six months, and reporters had started referring to each challenger as the "Bum of the Month."

The bout turned into a torrid punching contest in round one, after Baer's heavy punches stunned the champion and sent the great "Brown Bomber" fumbling through the ring ropes. Louis still appeared dazed as he clambered back into the ring, but proceeded to unleash a considerable amount of punishment upon the challenger through the next few rounds.

Baer's fortitude in fighting back and his remarkable ability to take Louis' Sunday punches thrilled the crowd, but as the fight progressed, the action turned more and more one sided. In the sixth round, the beating finally proved too much for Buddy, who hit the canvas three times in those three minutes. However, the final knockdown occurred just after the ringing of the bell to close the round. Baer had been caught by surprise and hit the floor hard. He went completely unconscious and his corner men rushed angrily into the ring, shouting to referee Arthur Donovan that their man had been fouled. Though the referee did not count over Baer, acknowledging the late punch, he refused to disqualify Louis. Baer was soon revived in his corner but was in no condition to continue. Because Baer's corner refused to let him out and continued to insist that the champion be disqualified, Donovan instead disqualified the challenger and awarded the fight to Louis.

Despite the one-sided beating he took at the end of the bout, Baer insisted that he receive a rematch. "Joe's a great fighter and a credit to his race," Baer told the press, "but he hit me after the bell."

On January 9, 1942, eight months after the first encounter, Baer was given his second opportunity at the championship. The rematch was held in Madison Square Garden before 16,689 people. However, the fight had none of the competitive flair that had been so exciting in their first battle. Louis landed an unending barrage of lefts and rights that sent Baer down three times in the opening frame. The challenger was counted out while trying to pull himself up on the ropes following the third knockdown.

Later in life, Baer, who retired after the second Louis fight, showed flashes of his older brother's trademark humor in looking back at his second shot at Louis. "The only way I could have beaten Joe that night," he mused, "was with a baseball bat."

Life After Boxing

After retiring from boxing, Buddy followed Max into a career as a bit-part player in films and television from the 1940s through the 1960s. Among his television credits were appearances on the shows Sheena: Queen of the Jungle, Have Gun - Will Travel, Gunsmoke, Adventures of Superman, Peter Gunn, and Rawhide. His nephew, Max Baer, Jr., earned fame portraying the character Jethro on the Beverly Hillbilles television show.

Buddy Baer died on July 18, 1986, at age 71. He had been suffering from diabetes, hypertension and Alzheimer's disease.

Sources & External Links