Buddy Baer

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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

Like his more famous older brother, Max Baer, Buddy Baer was a popular heavyweight contender known primarily for his size and punching power. Though he possessed little of Max's show-stealing charisma and never won the heavyweight title, Buddy did defeat a few noteworthy contenders and earn himself two shots at the championship during his eight-year pro career. As lately as 2003, The Ring magazine rated Buddy among the 100 greatest punchers, pound-for-pound, in boxing history.

Early Career

Given the name Jacob, Buddy was born on June 11, 1915 in Denver, Colorado, and moved with his family to Livermore, California, at a very young age. Buddy developed the large frame and muscular physique that would serve him well in the ring working alongside brother Max in their father's slaughterhouse as a young man. Buddy did not, however, turn to boxing as a profession until Max was already heavyweight champion of the world. Seeing an opportunity to make some money based on the fame of his last name, Buddy was convinced to become a prizefighter and had his first professional match September 23, 1934, a first-round knockout of the Eureka Giant, Tiny Abbott, who stood at a monstrous six feet, eight inches tall.

By early 1935, Buddy had turned heads by accumulating 13 consecutive victories without a loss. All of those wins came by knockout, nine in the first round. Poor management led him into a bout in Boston with Babe Hunt, a veteran of more than 100 bouts, on January 10, 1935. In what was only Buddy's fourteenth professional outing, Hunt walked away with a four-round decision. Over the next several years, though, Buddy continued to develop his record against largely unknown opponents, winning the vast majority of his bouts by the short route. Despite setback losses against Ford Smith and Andre Lenglet, he avenged the loss to Hunt with a first-round knockout in 1936 and was considered a rising prospect in his own right.

Contender

On August 30, 1937, Buddy took on his first highly regarded opponent, New York's own rising prospect, Abe Simon, at Yankee Stadium. After weathering an early attack from Simon, Buddy rebounded to score force a third round stoppage. A match-up with Gunnar Barlund in Madison Square Garden the next Spring did not fare so well, as Baer suffered the first stoppage loss of his career in the seventh round. But Buddy again rebounded, running off another sequence of impressive knockouts to put himself in back in contention for big paydays. On May 3, 1940, Buddy 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's championship two years prior. Mann was undefeated in his previous eight bouts, but was forced to quit in the seventh against Buddy. Now solidly ranked among the best heavyweights in the world, Buddy 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.

Vs. Joe Louis

Meanwhile, world heavyweight champion Joe Louis was running out of viable challengers. Buddy seemed to stand alone as the only viable contender the "Brown Bomber" had not yet defeated during his unprecedented title reign. On May 23, 1941, Louis and Baer were matched at Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C. with the richest prize in sports on the line. The bout turned into a torrid punching contest in round one, after Buddy's heavy punches stunned the champion and sent the great Louis 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's 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 had meanwhile been revived in his corner but was in no condition to continue. Because Buddy?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, Buddy insisted 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, Buddy was given his second opportunity at the championship. The rematch was held in Madison Square Garden before 16,689 people. But the fight had none of the competitive flair that had been so exciting in their first battle. This time Louis landed an unending barrage of lefts and rights that sent Buddy 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 he 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." Buddy Baer never fought professionally again. Instead he followed Max into a career as a bit part player in films and television throughout the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Among his television credits were appearances on the shows "Sheena: Queen of the Jungle," "Adventures of Superman," "Have Gun, Will Travel," "Gunsmoke," "Peter Gunn," and "Rawhide." His nephew, Max, Jr., earned fame as the character of Jethro on the "Beverly Hillbilles" television show. Buddy Baer died on July 18, 1986, at age 71.

Sources & External Links