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By Daniel Demers, The Catholic Stand, Sept. 27, 2019

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you”—Isaiah 41:13


In 1935 James Braddock won the world’s heavyweight boxing championship by beating Max Baer. The following day Damon Runyon declared Braddock “the Cinderella Man.” Runyon was one of America’s great sports and fiction writers. His style was so unique that even today his name is used as a descriptive adjective— “a Runyon character” or “Runyonesque.”

Runyon was not a Catholic, but his wife was and they were married in the Church. According to his son, Damon Runyon, Jr., in his book Father’s Footsteps, his parents were wed in the rectory since [his] father was not Catholic…[who] now and then dropped into a [Catholic Church} because, as he said, “they put on the best show.”

Runyon’s moniker stuck when first published in the New York American after Braddock’s unbelievable underdog victory over Max Baer, the reigning heavyweight champion. In typical Runyonesque prose he declared:

…and so ends the fistic fairytale…with the poor abused hero finding his pumpkins of failure turned into prancing white steeds of glittering success and his feet incased in the glass slippers of happiness…so ends the strange story of James J. Braddock “the Cinderella man” of fistiana. ….