Corn Griffin

James and Rosemarie Braddock, or Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger? You be the judge!

James and Mae Braddock, or Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger? You be the judge!

Happy Monday dudes and dudettes! It’s Dave here, trying to squeeze in one more post before I start my second year of grad school on Tuesday. It’s gonna be a fun time – we’ll start out studying oncology (cancer stuff), then onto epidemiology and biostatistics, and then into arthritis, rheumatology (joints), and dermatology! Woohoo!

But more important than any of those things, or even Step 1 (everyone’s favorite 7-hour long licensing exam, which I’ll be taking in May)…. is funny names!

There, I said it! Funny names above all else!

This summer I had a chance to watch a lovely movie about… you guessed it… boxing! The movie is called Cinderella Man, a 2005 film directed by Ron Howard, and starring Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, and Paul Giamatti. It chronicles the story of James J Braddock, a world title contender who also was forced to go on government assistance to support his family during the Great Depression.

It’s a lovely film. In my opinion, it should have won the Oscar for Best Picture. Then again, if I had my way, movies like Rocky, Million Dollar Baby, and On The Waterfront would have all won Best Picture.

Oh wait – they did!

But Raging Bull didn’t, which is a gosh-darned crime!

I was trying to come up with a witty caption for this, but my jokes all seemed too corny.

I was trying to come up with a witty caption for this, but my jokes all seemed too corny.

In any case, we’re here to talk about a fantastically-named fella named Corn Griffin.

He was born John Charles Griffin in Blountstown, Florida, and turned pro in 1929 ( not a great year for job prospects).

Young Corn had an incredible string of wins in Georgia to start off his career. His first opponents were (in order): Grumpy Gordy, Ox Marquette, Pep Causey, Kenneth Osteen, Gunboat Farley, Bobcat Morris, Layon McDuff, Grumpy Gordy (again), Shootie Copeland, and Autyro Staines.

Griffin beat them all, before losing 2 of his next 6 fights to Glenn Chancey and Bob Tow. Undaunted, he kept winning, and the highlight of his career was in 1934 when he brought his 44-10 record to Madison Square Garden to fight for a world title against ghd 41-23 record of heavyweight champ James J Braddock. Both guys went down in the second round, and Braddock won by TKO in the 3rd.

This guy's boxing name was actually Battling Bozo! It was an amazing time in history!

This guy’s boxing name was actually Battling Bozo! It was an amazing time in history!

Griffin fought for another 2 years, although never again for a world title. But he fought guys with names like Barney Brock, Adolph Wiater, Yale Okun, Gordon Fortenberry, Natie Brown, and my new favorite boxing name ever…

Battling Bozo!

Griffin beat Battling Bozo by a 10 round points decision in Asheville, North Carolina.

During his career, Griffin also served as sparring partner for former world champ, “The Ambling Alp” Primo Carnera, and after hanging up his gloves, Corn Griffin went on to lead one of the more fascinating post-boxing lives of anyone I’ve encountered in the archives.

Griffin before hanging up his gloves. Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Sun in case that isn't obvious!

Griffin before hanging up his gloves. Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Sun in case that isn’t obvious!

He served in the US Army in World War 2, and then became a police officer in Columbus, Georgia for 20 years. Griffin was a badass about that too – the Panama City News-Herald says Corn didn’t carry the typical policeman’s club “since his old one-two sledgehammer-like fists are as good as ever, but may not be as fast.”

That’s one officer I wouldn’t mess with. (He said, as though he’d ever mess with any police officers 🙂 )

Griffin died in 1973 at age 61, and left behind a meaningful and fascinating story, that included his portrayal in Cinderella Man by Art Binkowski, an actual Polish boxer who was an Olympic quarterfinalist who “Went All Hollywood” for his role in Cinderella Man. 

Amazing movie, superb names, seriously shoulda won Best Picture! Enjoy your Mondays, folks!

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About Dave

Based out of San Diego, California. Co-founder of the Blog of Funny Names. funnynamesblog.wordpress.com
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19 Responses to Corn Griffin

  1. Elyse says:

    Good luck with school!

  2. Bumba says:

    Once you can take out Grumpy Gordy, the ring is yours. Denzel’s Hurricane should have been his Academy award. I’ll have to check out Cinderella Man.

    • Dave says:

      Totally! I would’ve loved to see The Hurricane get Denzel his award! Boxing movies are some of the best!

      • Bumba says:

        Yeah, I thought that his academy award the nest year was cosmetic – make-up – for their error the year before. Strange. There’s a ton of great boxing movies, and barely any justice done to baseball – unless you count Dave Justice, who had a couple of good years with the Braves, but isn’t a particularly funny name.

        • Dave says:

          That’s true! I think it’s a bit harder to tell an Oscar-worthy story with a whole baseball team, whereas boxing – an individual story – makes it easier. I totally remember David Justice though! That guy had a pretty solid career!

  3. Rio says:

    Not that it really has anything to do with it but they filmed Cinderella man on Queen St. East in Toronto, near my then studio. It was major disruption but they did fix up the store fronts to look circa 1920 and some kept the look after they left. Russell Crow was popular for buying drinks for people at the local pub and also for working out at a gym and not showering before the scenes with Rene. (That was a bit too authentic!)

  4. ksbeth says:

    i love all of their names, sort of the 7 dwarfs of the boxing world. with a violent streak.

  5. Elyse says:

    There’s a great name for a politician in this article — http://atr.rollcall.com/bennet-gets-first-gop-challenger-iran-deal-decision/

    Perfect name for a GOP up and comer. It is my gift to you!

  6. markbialczak says:

    Great story, King Dave. I just hope he wasn’t name because of anything afflicting his feet.

  7. kerbey says:

    Sounds like a movie I need to see! And great pics, even though Old Corn looks a bit dazed and confused at the bottom. And ew, sweaty. When I read his name of John Charles, it reminded me of my neighbor in the 70s named John Charles. He knew all the curse words and had behavioral issues before that was a term and probably fried ants in the sun with magnifying glasses, so thanks for bringing back that repressed memory, Dave.

    Now as far as his opponents (doesn’t it seem odd to just OWN the names Bozo and Grumpy, negative as they are?), I feel like I should be chomping on a cigar when I say them. They are so headline-getting. Who would want to miss a fight between folks with amazing names?

    • Dave says:

      Haha, you’re welcome for bringing back that repressed memory, I think?

      Amazing names are one of the many reasons I love old-timey boxing stuff. Plus there are lots of old-timey pictures you’d love, like this one of John L. Sullivan, the first heavyweight champion under the Marquess of Queensberry rules (the boxing rules that established the sport in more-or-less the form we know it today).

      Prior to that, Sullivan was the last bare-knuckle heavyweight champion. The insane thing is that he won a bout that lasted 75 rounds. 75 rounds… without gloves. The guy was a beast! So much so that he traveled the country doing carnivals and offering random dudes $500 if they could last ONE ROUND with the guy!

      You may also enjoy this snippet about Jake Kilrain… the guy who went 75 rounds with Sullivan

      “Kilrain continued on for 10 more years after the Sullivan fight with gloves under Marquis of Queensberry rules with some success. His most significant win was a 44-round knockout of Boston’s George Godfrey in 1891. He lived in his later years as a devoted family man with his wife and children as proprietor of a saloon in Baltimore, Maryland. After his saloon burned down, he moved back to Somerville and was given a job with the parks department. After government cutbacks during the Great Depression he became a night watchman at a Quincy, Mass. shipyard.
      In his later life, Kilrain became good friends with John L. Sullivan. When Sullivan died in 1918, Kilrain served as a pallbearer at the funeral.”

      I think I’m starting to understand why you like all this old-time stuff. It’s oodles of fun!

      • kerbey says:

        Oh, my goodness. Such interesting stuff! How did his hands not turn into hamburger meat? I wonder if he even had rounded knuckle spots or just one big swollen mess. He would be the perfect guy to break up a fight at a saloon, I imagine. I’d hate to be his wife and sass talk him. He could pop me to the moon.

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