If you’re an old-time boxing and wrestling fan, you know the name Primo Carnera.
Carnera was a phenomenal athlete – and, apparently, a physical giant. He was a circus strongman in his native Italy before traveling to the U.S. and winning the heavyweight boxing title in 1933. You may remember his (somewhat unflattering) portrayal as the giant boxer who Max Baer defeats in the film Cinderella Man. Better still, you can see the real Primo in two of my favorite old-time movies, Mighty Joe Young (1949) and
The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933).
If you talk with fight fans of the day, they’ll all tell you the same thing: “Primo Carnera was a giant. He was over seven feet tall.”
Actually, he was six-foot-six, certainly very tall for a boxer, but not quite the seven-foot man-mountain people believed him to be.
There’s a reason for this slight discrepancy between perception and reality. Primo’s handlers – and the promoters of his fights – surrounded him with the shortest men the...