Carnera, Primo

(1906–1967)
   Born in Sequala, in Friuli, Primo Carnera was heavyweight champion of the world in the 1930s and a symbol of Fascist athletic prowess. A huge man (he was six feet seven inches in height and weighed 270 pounds; he weighed 17 pounds at birth), Carnera initially wanted to be a carpenter. When he was 18, he moved to live with relatives in France, where he worked as a circus strongman. He was taken up by a professional coach, Paul Journee, and a somewhat unscrupulous manager, Leon See, and began his professional boxing career in 1928. Nicknamed the “ambling Alp” and the “good giant,” in all he fought 108 bouts between 1928 and 1946, winning 88 (70 by knockout) and losing 15. Carnera won the world championship in June 1933 when he defeated the American boxer Jack Sharkey. In October of the same year, he defended the title against the Spanish champion Paulino Uzcudun before a huge crowd in Rome. Carnera became a hero in the Fascist press and his image was widely used for propaganda purposes. The following year, however, he lost his title to Max Baer in a hardfought match. In 1935, Carnera, who had always been carefully protected by his managers, rashly fought a young Joe Louis and was battered. Although he continued to fight on, he was never again a top-rank boxer. Carnera’s humiliation at the hands of a black boxer discomfited the Fascist state at a moment when racial themes were beginning to appear in the regime’s propaganda.
   Carnera turned to wrestling in his late career and also made a number of appearances in films, including Alessandro Blasetti’s La Corona di ferro. Carnera was also the subject of a 1956 film starring Humphrey Bogart that insinuated that many of his fights had been fixed by the mob. Professional boxing was a dirty business then as now, and Carnera’s managers, notably See, had many dubious connections, but there seems little reason to suspect that Carnera was anything less than one of the best boxers of his generation. He died in his native Friuli in June 1967.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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  • Carnera, Primo — ▪ Italian athlete born October 26, 1906, Sequals, Udine, Italy died June 29, 1967, Sequals  Italian heavyweight boxing champion of the world from June 29, 1933, when he knocked out Jack Sharkey (Sharkey, Jack) in six rounds in New York City,… …   Universalium

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  • carnera — car·nè·ra s.m. OB solo sing., per anton., anche con iniz. maiusc., uomo di alta statura eccezionalmente forte e robusto {{line}} {{/line}} DATA: 1934. ETIMO: da Carnera, nome del pugile italiano Primo Carnera (1906 67) …   Dizionario italiano

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