"Corn's in worse shape than you are," Gould said.
Before retreating to Braddock's dressing room, Gould found Johnston at ringside. "I hope Jimmy didn't hurt Corn," Gould said, smiling. "I know you've got high hopes for him."
"Tell Jimmy I'm proud of him," Johnston said, trying to mask his disappointment.
Back in the dressing room, Braddock popped open a beer, embraced a few friends and relatives and searched in vain for a shower. Then, turning to Gould, he said, "I did that on hash, Joe. Wait till you see what I can do on steak."
On June 13, 1935, 364 days after knocking out Griffin, Braddock returned to the Madison Square Garden Bowl to fight Max Baer, who had won the title from Carnera an hour after the Braddock-Griffin fight. In the intervening year Braddock had scored consecutive upset victories against John Henry Lewis, a future Hall of Famer, and Art Lasky, at the time the No. 1 contender for the heavyweight title. Braddock had stopped working on the docks and removed his name from the relief rolls. Damon Runyon had christened him the Cinderella Man after he defeated Lasky to earn a shot at Baer's championship.
As Braddock was training for the Baer fight, most of the English-speaking world had become aware that he had been on relief, which made him tremendously popular. But the oddsmakers were unimpressed. They still rated him a prohibitive underdog. By fight night Baer himself was convinced that Braddock was an entirely unworthy opponent.
He was wrong.
With Gould cheering in his corner--and most of the crowd on his side--Braddock fought a smart fight. He was aggressive but, for the most part, avoided Baer's power shots. When Baer did clip him with a big right hand ("The shock of it," Braddock later said, "went all the way down to the big toe of my right foot"), the challenger didn't budge. He used his left hand to devastating effect. For 15 rounds he confounded Baer, who was younger, stronger and more experienced in big fights.
With five seconds left in the fight, Braddock landed two rights to Baer's head. Then the bell sounded. Gould jumped into the ring, grabbed both of Braddock's legs and lifted him into the air. Braddock looked down and quietly said, "We did it. We did it."
For weeks after the fight, the papers featured photographs of Braddock at various functions. The people's champion--Runyon called him the most popular boxer ever--he was almost always in the same pose, at a dining table, staring straight into the lens, slicing into a steak and wearing his crooked smile. There was no hash in sight. ?