As is my custom I turn to the world of the Sweet Science aka Boxing on December 26th. Usually I feature the Brawlers and Bruisers who enter the Square Jungle but how about a look at the many fine actors who did the training and held the water bucket in the corner. Those who coached and tried to bring out the best in their fighter.
Or in some cases weren’t necessarily looking after their fighter but rather the money they might have had riding on the opponent or just trying to get their man to take a fall so as not to run afoul of the mobsters that frequented the world of boxing movies.
Let’s start off with maybe the famous cornerman in movie history. Burgess Meredith in his celebrated role as Mickey who takes Rocky Balboa to fame, fortune and movie history.
How about Keenan Wynn and Earl Holliman doing their best to keep Dewey Martin on his feet in 1953’s Tennessee Champ.
Clint Eastwood as a corner man? That he was to Donald O’Connor of all people in 1955’s Francis In the Navy.
Like Eastwood, you’d expect Charles Bronson to be in the ring and while he appeared as a boxer in a number of movies and TV shows early on, here he is training the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis, in 1962’s Kid Galahad.
Ernie Borgnine holds the heavy as he instructs his pupil, Tony Curtis, in the finer points of the fight game in 1955’s The Square Jungle.
Paul Stewart and Arthur Kennedy stare up at their man, Kirk Douglas, in his star making turn in 1949’s Champion.
If ever an actor was born to play a boxing trainer/cornerman, I can’t think of a better one than Jack Warden. Here he is doing his best to keep Jon Voight motivated in 1979’s The Champ.
Comedy reigns when Barbra Streisand takes on corner duties to get Ryan O’Neal on track to a title shot in 1979’s The Main Event.
Be rest assured Bud won’t be taking any punches but he’ll be happy to let Lou step into the ring to do the fighting while he mans the corner.
That’s no cornerman, that’s Bogie the gangster, looking after his own interests and expecting his man, Bob Nestell, to take out Wayne Morris’ 1937 version of Kid Galahad.
Let’s close it down with a real life trainer who was behind two of the most famous men ever to lace up the gloves. Angelo Dundee (1921 – 2012). He worked with both Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard among others.