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‘Slapsie Maxie’ Could Spar With the Best of ‘Em

Underneath obligatory scar tissue running through both eyebrows, he had a sad, droopy face, anchored by a nose that looked, well, borrowed.

He talked like an ex-pug who’d taken far too many punches, but most felt it was an act because no one could remember anyone laying a glove on the crafty “Slapsie Maxie” Rosenbloom, who died 23 years ago today.

The world light-heavyweight champion from 1932 to 1934, Rosenbloom was far more popular in his post-boxing life than he was in the ring. He appeared in numerous Broadway plays, TV shows and films, often playing punch-drunk fighters.

He also had a nightclub act that featured his self-deprecating style of humor, much like baseball’s Bob Uecker.

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When once asked why he dropped out of school in the third grade, he said: “Because my old man was in the fourth grade and I didn’t want to pass him.”

A variation: “A guy sez to me once: ‘Hey, didn’t you go to school, stupid?’

“And I told him: ‘Yeah, I went to school stupid and came out stupid.’ ”

Late in his life, laughs became tears.

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It turned out he had taken too many punches in his 289 fights.

His mental acuity failed rapidly in the early 1970s and doctors attributed it to blows to the head.

He died at 71 in a South Pasadena nursing home and was buried at Valhalla Memorial Park in North Hollywood.

Also on this date: In 1983, 34,002 at the Coliseum saw the L.A. Express beat the New Jersey Generals, 20-15, on opening day for the new U.S. Football League. . . . In 1965, Wilt Chamberlain had 43 rebounds and 27 points and his Philadelphia 76ers beat Boston, 103-98. . . . In 1971, Wisconsin junior Pat Matzdorf tied the world indoor high jump mark at 7 feet 3. . . . In 1964, new heavyweight champion Cassius Clay announced his new name was Cassius X, but days later changed that to Muhammad Ali. . . . In 1965, Lucky Debonair beat heavily favored Jacinto to win the Santa Anita Derby.

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