On the evening of Oct. 31, 1938, colorful ex-heavyweight champion Max Baer fought Andre Adoree in a four-round exhibition bout in Kekaha that topped a good local fight card.
Baer had seen his better days as a boxer when he fought in Kekaha, but the perpetual showman was always a crowd-pleaser.
Only five years earlier, in 1933, Baer had beaten German fighter Max Schmeling before 60,000 fans at Yankee Stadium and followed that fight up in 1934 by taking the World Heavyweight Championship from giant Primo Carnera in Madison Square Garden.
But in 1935 he lost his title to underdog James J. Braddock — a story made famous by the 2005 movie “Cinderella Man” — after kidding around for 15 rounds, albeit with an injured right hand, and was later knocked out in four rounds by Joe Louis.
Although Baer was tremendously strong and possessed a powerful right, he never lived up to his potential. In the ring his efforts often seemed halfhearted. He joked and wisecracked his way through fights.
And out of the ring, the fun-loving Baer’s priority was partying with countless women, including stars, starlets, chorus girls and Broadway actresses.
Still, Baer compiled a record of 72-12-0 with 53 knockouts and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
He died in 1959.
The fight fans in Kekaha liked the Baer-Adoree exhibition, which, true to form, was mostly clowning, and roared with laughter when Baer was interviewed at ringside.
When asked how sure he was that he’d beat Louis in a return fight, Baer poked fun at the Kekaha Plantation manager and aspiring politician, replying, “Just as sure as Lindsay Faye is going to be elected senator.”
In the other featured bout, Filipino battler Clever Henry knocked out hard-hitting former featherweight champ Adolph Samuels.
Preliminary fight winners were Makaweli’s Kid Perla, Eddie Valente, Rudy Vinigas and Vicente Panit.