In Part One of this article I made a fact based case that most Americans are experiencing an economic depression on par with the Great Depression of the 1930’s. In Part Two I will compare and contrast two very different men who raised the spirits of the common man during difficult economic times. As we approach the perilous portion of this Fourth Turning, it will take more than hope to get us through to the other side.
Likening Braddock to Trump might seem far-fetched, until you think about parallels between the economic conditions during the 1930’s and today, along with the deepening mood of crisis, despair and anger at the establishment. Braddock’s career coincided with the last Fourth Turning. James J. Braddock was born in 1905, to Irish immigrant parents Joseph Braddock and Elizabeth O’Toole Braddock in a tiny apartment on West 48th Street in New York City. His life personified that of a GI Generation hero. One of seven children, Jimmy enjoyed playing marbles, baseball and hanging around the old swimming hole on the edge of the Hudson River as a youngster. He discovered his passion for boxing as a teenager.
Braddock refined his skills as an amateur fighter and in 1926 entered the professional boxing circuit in the light heavyweight division. Braddock overwhelmed the competition, knocking out multiple opponents in the early rounds of most fights. As a top light heavyweight, he stood over six feet two inches, but seldom weighed over 180 pounds. But his powerful right hand was no match for opponents that weighed close to 220 pounds. His star was ascending. He earned a shot at the title in 1929. On the evening of July 18th 1929, Braddock entered the ring at Yankee Stadium to face Tommy Loughran for the coveted light heavyweight championship. Loghran avoided Braddock’s deadly right hand for 15 rounds and won by decision. Less than two months later the stock market crashed and the country plunged into the Great Depression.