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McLarnin Spotted Flaw, Stunned Young Corbett

COUNTDOWN TO 2000: A day-by-day recap of some of the
most important sports moments of the 20th century.
/ MARCH 29, 1933

March 29, 1999

The old champion was on his feet, dancing softly across his carpeted living room, flicking out left jabs.

This was 1990 and Jimmy McLarnin, the old welterweight champion, was describing to a visitor to his Glendale home how he upset Young Corbett on this date in 1933.

Corbett was a Fresno fighter, real name Rafael Capabianca Giordano. Most felt he was too tough for the younger McLarnin.

March, 1933: A new Ford V-8 cost $490. Three-bedroom homes in West L.A. were going for $3,200. Admission to King Kong at the RKO Hillstreet was a quarter.

And at Los Angeles' Wrigley Field, 15,000 turned out to see McLarnin-Corbett.

In 1990, his memory still sharp at 81, McLarnin remembered a Corbett flaw.

"Corbett had a habit of leaning forward just before the threw his right," he said as he sat with his visitor. "My plan was to look for that, to let him do it a few times, sucker him in, then catch him with a left hand. And that's exactly what happened."

On his feet again, the old champion assumed the boxer's stance.

"In the first round, he did it a couple of times and I didn't react. He kept doing it. It was the third time, and bing!"

He snapped off a simulated left hook, smacking his fist into his right palm with a loud crack.

Next-day accounts of the fight indicated Corbett went down heavily, arose shakily, then was driven into the ropes by McLarnin. There, helpless, the referee waved McLarin away and raised his hand. It was a stunning, first-round victory.

In 1990, McLarnin said, "The best part of it was that my 71-year-old father was there to see it," McLarnin said, tears welling in his eyes. "My father was a beautiful man. He had 12 kids and took his family from Ireland to Canada in 1910. He could do anything. He could farm, he could fix shoes, he was a butcher, he could make furniture, he could run a lumber mill.

"He had tough times in his life. That he could be there to see his son become a champion. . . . It meant so much to me."

McLarnin, now 91, is one of boxing's oldest living former champions. He lives in Seattle with his daughter.

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