Jim Beattie died Wednesday. He was 77. He was a 6-foot-9 heavyweight boxer and had one of the most interesting stories you will find among Minnesota’s home-state athletes.
Search with today’s technology for Beattie and there are numerous articles from Robert Lipsyte, who first gained fame as a boxing writer for the New York Times.
All the legends of East Coast sportswriting had something to offer on Jim Beattie during those 33 mercurial months, from when he arrived in New York City in April 1963 to seek the heavyweight championship of the world, to January 1966, when he was “involuntarily retired for his own sake” by the New York State Athletic Commission.
Publicist Gene Schoor created the hype for James J. Beattie, a young boxer from St. Paul chosen in a national search for the next heavyweight champion. It started with a classified ad that Schoor placed in many newspapers, promising $10,000 a year and all training expenses paid “while you learn” the skills required to win the heavyweight crown.
Schoor and his partners — Bill Nicholson, Sy Krieg and Phil Krupin — formed Kid Galahad Inc. Beattie eventually was the chosen one from a half-dozen finalists.
What did a wide-eyed 20-year-old from the most blue-collar of St. Paul backgrounds think of the frantic pace of Manhattan?
Jeff Beattie, the second of three sons and five children, said: “He absolutely loved it. He enjoyed people. … He loved being somebody.”
Beattie’s first fight in New York was a one-punch knockout of 5-foot-8 Duke Johnson on May 28, 1963. Official time: 24 seconds. His last was a thumping delivered by James Woody in Madison Square Garden on Dec. 10, 1965.
New York pulled his license. Beattie started a comeback with Glen Flanagan as his trainer in St. Paul. He returned to the ring in September 1966 and quit on his own after a couple of losses in 1968.
He had another comeback in 1976, eventually fighting and losing to a young Scott LeDoux on Feb. 20, 1979. He retired with a record of 40-10, with 32 knockouts.
Not Galahad-like, not a heavyweight champ, but not bad.
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• Beattie played “The Kid,” James Earl Jones’ foil in the climactic fight scene of “The Great White Hope,” in the 1970 film based on a Broadway play.
• As Gene Schoor claimed, did Beattie once punch a police horse? Son Jeff wasn’t sure, but said his father loved “Blazing Saddles” and laughed loudly at that famous scene.
• Beattie was the four-time Upper Midwest Gold Gloves heavyweight champion (1959-62).