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Old 07-08-2007, 06:29 AM   #1
jhar26
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Default Primo Carnera

I would like to know how you guys feel about Primo Carnera. On the one hand I read everywhere that his legacy is false, on the other hand some posters here are arguing that he was really a very good fighter who even could have been the possible champ if he were fighting today. If he really was that good, why did his mobster entourage feel the need to bribe even mediocre opponents to take a dive, and how can his wins that were considered to be on the level be trusted considering his history?

I'm not arguing one way or the other myself, I'm not knowledgable enough to do so.
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Old 07-08-2007, 06:35 AM   #2
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Default Re: Primo Carnera

Well, as you say, it's impossible to know exactly what went on in all of his fights on account of his involvment with the mob.

Look to the fights he lost for clues.

I think he was a reasoneably tough man, capable enough if not outstanding. He had some power, though nothing like you'd expect, but some boxing skill, perhaps more than he's been given credit for.

He's basically underated, IMO.

He was also a thoroughly decent man. I don't think he shipped his dignity even after he realised he'd been robbed blind.
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Old 07-08-2007, 06:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: Primo Carnera

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Originally Posted by jhar26
I would like to know how you guys feel about Primo Carnera. On the one hand I read everywhere that his legacy is false, on the other hand some posters here are arguing that he was really a very good fighter who even could have been the possible champ if he were fighting today. If he really was that good, why did his mobster entourage feel the need to bribe even mediocre opponents to take a dive, and how can his wins that were considered to be on the level be trusted considering his history?

I'm not arguing one way or the other myself, I'm not knowledgable enough to do so.

Ask yourself, if Carnera was such a bum like many people think, why should some people make him a champ with so many fixed fights who cost so much, when there were talented fighters around? Carnera was a good HW with enormous pysical strength, a very good and hard one-punch, good stamina, and some skills (jab for example). The only mistake his managment made was, that they tried to fast to promote world-wide, he fought too often. And against Young Stribling, a great fighter with much experience, they wanted no risk and he all know what happened, which is for Carnera´s legacy very unfair, because now some idiots really think that all of his fights were fixed except his losses, what´s of course total bullshit...
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Old 07-08-2007, 07:11 AM   #4
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Default Re: Primo Carnera

He looks very limited to me on the film I've seen.
He had an okay jab which he used to keep the much (much) smaller opponents he was fighting at bay,but he had little power (couldn't put Tommy Loughran away even with a 80+ pound advantage),no head movement, and ponderous footwork.
But I'll give him one thing he had a big,big heart.He kept getting off the floor when the murderous punching Baer kept hammering him there (10 times in all from memory) which showed he had a champion's heart which is something to be proud of.
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Old 07-08-2007, 08:50 AM   #5
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Default Re: Primo Carnera

Carnera probably didn't have a single fast twitch muscle fiber in his body. He did use his reach and movement very well in deploying his long peskey jab, and he had a number of quality decision wins on his dossier. Against Campolo and Impelletier, he demonstrated that he could handle bigger opponents than himself, and he decisioned the bull-strong Paulino Uzcudun twice. He also posted two decision wins over King Levinski, and avenged a points loss to Jimmy Maloney with one of his own, as well as legitimately outpointing a Tommy Loughran who, while fading at 34, was nonetheless coming off a decision win over the aforementioned Impelletier.

With his jab and movement, he was certainly a better boxer than the equally large Buddy Baer. He may have been slow in the ring, but he wasn't dumb.

He was as well conditioned as necessary for going 15 rounds, and was wearing Loughran down at the end. Stepping on Tommy's feet may not have been clumsiness, but shrewd rule bending on Primo's part. He also pulled Max Baer down with him repeatedly, buying Carnera additional time to recover from his knockdowns. After Sharkey floored Primo with a hook in their first match, Primo immediately bounced right back up, then down to one knee to take the benefit of a full count, demonstrating alert and intelligent ring savy. (Unlike Jerry Quarry, Primo did not lose the count.) As large as Da Preem's feet were, I haven't seen any footage of him tripping or stumbling over them.

Mike Tyson and George Foreman had numerous quick kayos as they originally moved up through the ranks, but Carnera's inability to punch with leverage resulted in him going a significant distance with a number of quality opponents. He had won 13 matches lasting ten rounds or more by the time he won the title with 82 matches under his belt. That's a fairly respectable level of experience, too many fights for Primo to have behind him and still be totally clueless about what to do once the bell rang.

His reputation might be considerably better if he didn't appear to quit against Baer. (If he'd been on his feet by the end of 15 rounds with Maxie, he might have been more respected, as Jimmy Braddock came to be admired for, "going out on his shield," against Louis.)

Was his knockout of Sharkey legitimate? Primo certainly had his moments in their first 15 rounder. When he delivered the uppercut which won the title, Sharkey was in an awkward posistion on the ropes, trying to get away. Primo squared up against him, and pivoted with his right foot directly facing Sharkey, as he drove up with all his bodyweight behind that right uppercut. As slow as Primo was, when I look at his form in that instant, it appears to be a genuinely forceful punch.

During his title run, he defeated top heavyweights in four consecutive matches. It wasn't his fault that Ernie Shaaf chose to get out of his hospital bed ill with influenza to face Carnera in their title eliminator.

In defending the title against Uzcudun and Loughran, he decisioned two contenders who held wins over Max Baer. He may not have been a great fighter, but he was a good champion, the only one to defend the title thrice inside a year's time between Jack Johnson in 1915 (Willard), and Joe Louis in 1938 (Thomas), a span of 23 years. Carnera deserves to be acknowledged as a fighting champion, who didn't sit on the title for three years, and defended it against worthy challengers. And unlike Sharkey, Baer, and Louis, Primo always got up in his biggest fights after being floored.
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Old 07-08-2007, 02:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: Primo Carnera

Quote:
Originally Posted by jhar26
I would like to know how you guys feel about Primo Carnera. On the one hand I read everywhere that his legacy is false, on the other hand some posters here are arguing that he was really a very good fighter who even could have been the possible champ if he were fighting today. If he really was that good, why did his mobster entourage feel the need to bribe even mediocre opponents to take a dive, and how can his wins that were considered to be on the level be trusted considering his history?

I'm not arguing one way or the other myself, I'm not knowledgable enough to do so.
I have looked into the matter in some detail and it seems that the alegations of fixed fights were largley malicios. The alegations were originaly made by a former manager of Carnera with a grudge and were readily seized upon by the xenphobic press of the day. Carnera was involved in a couple of dodgey fights but probably no more than say Max Baer or Jimmy Braddock. I am certain that the fight where he won the title from Jack Sharkey was on the level.

How good was he?

He was prety decent. He beat most of the top contenders of the period and has a resume that stacks up well against the other champions of the 30s. He fought the best and fought them regularly including some opponents that many other top contenders avoided.

In the final analysis he should be remembered as a good champion. Not a great one but a good one.
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Old 07-08-2007, 03:48 PM   #7
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Default Re: Primo Carnera

Thanks for the replies, guys. Very informative, thanks.
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Old 07-08-2007, 04:38 PM   #8
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Default Re: Primo Carnera

to anyone's knowledge, did sharkey ever claim to have thrown the title fight? I would think that if he had, eventually he would have come clean, especially as how carnera wasn't treated kindly by historians.
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Old 07-08-2007, 04:50 PM   #9
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Default Re: Primo Carnera

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Originally Posted by amhlilhaus
to anyone's knowledge, did sharkey ever claim to have thrown the title fight? I would think that if he had, eventually he would have come clean, especially as how carnera wasn't treated kindly by historians.
Sharkey to his credit always vheamently insisted that the fight was on the level.

He was not a man troubled by modesty but he gave Carnera his due.
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Old 07-08-2007, 06:39 PM   #10
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Default Re: Primo Carnera

One thing which hasn't been touched on in this thread, which may have undermined Carnera's treatment by the unsophisticated English language media of that era, is the fact that Primo was Italian. Just as Max Schmeling was smeared unjustly by the brush of Nazism, so too was Carnera by Fascism at that period in time. But there can be a huge difference between partisan party politics and patriotism. Like Schmeling, Carnera seems to have been another perfectly fine fellow caught between a rock and a hard place. (Decades later, Gerrie Coetzee would face the same sort of sociopolitical conundrum.)

I wonder how Carnera might have been treated by the press if he'd been French (like Carpentier). I suspect his nationality might have coloured it adversely, outside the Italian-American community.
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Old 07-08-2007, 07:29 PM   #11
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Default Re: Primo Carnera

Why has everyone lost their perspective on Primo Carnera regarding whether he was good or bad? Any student of boxing history knows that the Italian was just a big, simple, overgrown (particularly for his time) freak who had basic, rudimentary boxing skills, no real chin and really, really crooked men who fixed many of his fights and manoevered him skillfully into a fight with a tempermental, hot/cold, erratic fighter named Jack Sharkey, who, believe it or not, actually got himself ko'd in the 6th round, with what sime people might call a "lucky punch". Carnera fought after that, in defense of his title, a great, brilliant lightheavyweight champion named Tommy Loughran, who was outweighed by nearly 100 pounds, and who couldnt punch at all as a heavyweight (and not too hard as a lightheavy), so guess what? Primo wasn't gonna lose THAT fight, with all the natural physical advantages he had. He also fought a slow but rugged trialhorse named Paulino Uzcudun, who he was able to decision without too much trouble. That brings us to Max Baer. Max wasn't even in shape, and he wasn't even trying to devastate Primo, but he scored 11 or 12 knockdowns to take the title from Primo on a tko in 11. Even halfassed, grazing punches from Max put poor Primo on the deck. Max couldn't really land a finisher on Carnera because Primo hurt his ankle after the first knockdown, and went down rather easily from the breeze generated by Max's punches (otherwise he would have killed Carnera). In Primo's next fight, Joe Louis nearly killed him. So what is it so hard to understand about Primo Carnera? He wasn't too bad against a gut who was much smaller than him, or who couldnt punch that hard, but most of all, he was great against guys who were whispered to by some thug wearing a trenchcoat and told to lie down in a given round after being tapped on the chin.
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Old 07-09-2007, 11:51 AM   #12
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Default Re: Primo Carnera

Quote:
Originally Posted by red cobra
Why has everyone lost their perspective on Primo Carnera regarding whether he was good or bad? Any student of boxing history knows that the Italian was just a big, simple, overgrown (particularly for his time) freak who had basic, rudimentary boxing skills, no real chin and really, really crooked men who fixed many of his fights and manoevered him skillfully into a fight with a tempermental, hot/cold, erratic fighter named Jack Sharkey, who, believe it or not, actually got himself ko'd in the 6th round, with what sime people might call a "lucky punch". Carnera fought after that, in defense of his title, a great, brilliant lightheavyweight champion named Tommy Loughran, who was outweighed by nearly 100 pounds, and who couldnt punch at all as a heavyweight (and not too hard as a lightheavy), so guess what? Primo wasn't gonna lose THAT fight, with all the natural physical advantages he had. He also fought a slow but rugged trialhorse named Paulino Uzcudun, who he was able to decision without too much trouble. That brings us to Max Baer. Max wasn't even in shape, and he wasn't even trying to devastate Primo, but he scored 11 or 12 knockdowns to take the title from Primo on a tko in 11. Even halfassed, grazing punches from Max put poor Primo on the deck. Max couldn't really land a finisher on Carnera because Primo hurt his ankle after the first knockdown, and went down rather easily from the breeze generated by Max's punches (otherwise he would have killed Carnera). In Primo's next fight, Joe Louis nearly killed him. So what is it so hard to understand about Primo Carnera? He wasn't too bad against a gut who was much smaller than him, or who couldnt punch that hard, but most of all, he was great against guys who were whispered to by some thug wearing a trenchcoat and told to lie down in a given round after being tapped on the chin.

You´re an idiot who hates Carnera without any reasons. Stop it, it would really be better...
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Old 07-09-2007, 11:57 AM   #13
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Default Re: Primo Carnera

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That brings us to Max Baer. Max wasn't even in shape, and he wasn't even trying to devastate Primo, but he scored 11 or 12 knockdowns to take the title from Primo on a tko in 11.
Max Baer was in magnificent shape for that bout. See if you can scout up a photograph of their weigh-in, or film of Baer's training camp for the fight. Max did have a tendency not to train for fights, but he was in corking shape for this one.
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Old 07-09-2007, 12:21 PM   #14
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Default Re: Primo Carnera

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Originally Posted by red cobra
Why has everyone lost their perspective on Primo Carnera regarding whether he was good or bad? Any student of boxing history knows that the Italian was just a big, simple, overgrown (particularly for his time) freak who had basic, rudimentary boxing skills, no real chin and really, really crooked men who fixed many of his fights and manoevered him skillfully into a fight with a tempermental, hot/cold, erratic fighter named Jack Sharkey,
What actual evidence is there for Carnera having all these fixed fights you talk about?

As far as I can see the alegations are based on inuendo, and half truths. The person who made the alegations had a grudge against Carnera and much of what he wrote is self contradictory.
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Old 07-09-2007, 12:58 PM   #15
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Default Re: Primo Carnera

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Originally Posted by UpWithEvil
Max Baer was in magnificent shape for that bout. See if you can scout up a photograph of their weigh-in, or film of Baer's training camp for the fight. Max did have a tendency not to train for fights, but he was in corking shape for this one.
Of course Max Baer LOOKED like he was in shape. Max didn't dissipate between fights and get all fat and sloppy. The point is, he didnt train with savage, serious intent for Primo like he did for Schmeling. Saying he wasn't in shape was meant as a metaphor of sorts to suggest that he wasn't dead serious about this fight like he was for Max Schmeling for instance. He destroyed Schmeling as you know, and if he wasn't so over confident with Primo and didnt clown so much as he did, he would have ended it much sooner.
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