Tag Archive | "James Braddock"

The Cinderella Effect

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Cinderella

The fairy tale story of Cinderella is known by people in various parts of the world.  Although the story differs from place to place, the animated Walt Disney version of the tale is the one with which most English-speaking people are familiar.  As with all fairy tales, Cinderella blends magical and mythical elements to illuminate the human condition.  Usually, such tales have happy endings.  And thus, Cinderella tells the story of triumph over undeserved oppression.

 

Through Cinderella’s story, those experiencing adversity in their lives, a group with which the entire human race can identify, are offered solace and hope.  If the naive and virtuous Cinderella, bereft of any resources, can overcome her wicked stepmother and stepsisters, capture the attention and affection of a prince, and live happily ever after, then so can we all, metaphorically speaking.  In this regard, Cinderella represents every person.

 

Throughout the millennia of recorded history, the act of triumphing over adversity has become the archetypal harbinger of radical changes in life and the world.  The triumph of Colonial America over the British Empire, David’s conquest of Goliath, and Jesus’ victory over death were all indisputably world-changing events.

 

On a much smaller scale, each day individual people win modest victories that improve their own lives, or the lives of their families.  Cinderella’s story, if factual, would fall within this category.  Sometimes, however, the triumph of an individual, although beneficial to himself and his family, can have meaning for others.  In these instances, the individual victor is viewed by a large group as representative of their plight and so his victory is perceived as theirs as well.

 

Such was the case with James J. Braddock whose story was recounted in the 2005 Academy Award-nominated drama, “Cinderella Man.”  In the early 1930’s, Braddock was a washed-up ex-prizefighter who, like multitudes of other Americans, was forced to go on the public dole as a result of the Great Depression.  Dubbed the “Cinderella Man” by a newspaper columnist of the day, Braddock received a second-chance at boxing success through a fortunate turn of events.  Driven by love for his family and sheer determination, he seized the opportunity, rose through the ranks, and against all odds, dethroned the current champion, Max Baer, who had killed a man in the ring and was considered virtually unbeatable.  Along the way, through actions such as returning all the funds he had collected while on public assistance, he endeared himself to the common people.  His victory was greeted by the downtrodden as their own and became a source of inspiration and hope.

 

Braddock, like the fictional Cinderella, was acting in his own best interest.  Yet, his own interests became the interests of many.  And, his benefit, primarily economic, was transformed into a benefit of the soul and spirit for those who identified themselves with his struggle.  Like Braddock, we should all endeavor to fight the good fight, whatever that battle might be, for even our smallest successes may commence a ripple effect that may spawn a tidal wave for the benefit of humankind. 

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