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27 March 2020 Maureen O’ Hara vs Jane Russell

Page history last edited by caspian2 2 years, 9 months ago




Posted by Lookout! Boxing on Mar 28, 2020 at 5:55pm



Results: Lookout Writing: Archer

Retro: Ca. 1944

Maureen: 24 YO, 5’8 (1.73 m).

Jane: 23 YO, 5’7 (1.70 m)

Before: This long-sought “Golden Age of Hollywood” bout has located and restored to his full Technicolor beauty by the hard working technical staff of the FCBA Library. It features Irish born Maureen “Big Red” O’Hara who had been brawling her way to ring success in Hollywood since 1939. She would be facing off against Minnesota native Jane Russell, who had been brought to Hollywood by eccentric Howard Hughes and had starred in Hughes’ lurid western “The Outlaw”. The match was believed to have been promoted by Hughes who also arranged for the Technicolor and sound recording of the bout. (Characteristically, Hughes then carefully stored the negative and existing prints and seemed to forget all about them. It was only through determined efforts of the FCBA Library that this fully restored print was pried from the Hughes estate and made available to the general public).

As noted above, Jane Russell was new to the Hollywood celebrity boxing scene, but she was certainly given plenty of preparation through trainers hired by Howard Hughes. It was expected that this would be a battle between the traditional “Irish donnybrook “ style and a trained “technical” boxer. This film shows that fights frequently don’t follow expectations….

The film shows Maureen O’Hara coming to the ring in a bright green one piece suit with green gloves and gold boots (gold laces for the , green for the boots). Her dazzling red hair was pulled back into a simple ponytail. Jane came to the ring in black two piece swimsuit with a silver design on the top. Her gloves and boots were black with silver laces. Her dark hair was pulled back into braid.

Maureen had an inch height advantage (5’8 to 5’7) on Jane, not to mention the experience. (Just the month before Maureen had KO’d a young Esther Williams in USO fight at the famed Hollywood Canteen). However Jane shows a calm confidence as Maureen tries to body up on her and can be heard telling Maureen and the referee (the no-nonsense veteran Barbara Stanwyck):

“Stop messing around. Get this fight going!”

(It should be noted that this fight was set in a ring set up in the garden of a Beverly Hills estate. The ever-secretive Hughes had restricted the VIP guest list to ensure those he did invite would be eager to attend and there was indeed a large crowd of Hollywood power broker and celebrities seated in comfortable chairs around the ring. The dressing rooms were cabanas set up in the garden.)

This settled things down (for the moment) and the ring instructions were covered. The fighters tapped gloved and departed for their corners. The bell rang.

R1: Out from her corner came Maureen and started flinging leather at Jane’s head with her customary gusto. Jane was trying to duck and dodge, but more than one “bellringer” slammed home. Jane looked wobbly as Mo then pounded her to the body and shoved her back into the ropes. Jane tried to use her jab, but Maureen banged an uppercut into the brunette’s chin that drove her into the ropes. Then Maureen went after Jane to the midsection as Jane just covered her face and took a seat on the ropes. Maureen seemed to trying to go for an early end of the fight, but Jane wouldn’t buckle under the pressure and made it to the bell. Round wide to Maureen O’Hara and she was loudly applauded returning to her corner. Jane pulled herself off the ropes, set her jaw and walked as firmly as she could back to her corner.

R2: Maureen was quick off her stool once again this round and clearly looking to overwhelm the rookie Jane. However Jane Russell was moving more evasively this round and she getting to the redhead’s chin with a steady series of blows. The “chin music” began to slow Maureen down and now Jane was back in with some crackling shots to the jaw that put a shudder down Maureen’s legs. Maureen was trying to jab back while protecting her head. Jane was now driving hooks into the redhead’s torso. The crowd now was cheering Jane on as she tried to back Maureen up. Mo dug in and managed to slow Jane up with the jab as the round was ending. Jane Russell won the round by a wide margin.

R3: Maureen may have been roughed up in the previous round, but she showed no change in her fight tactics as she was out quickly and unleashing heavy leather on Jane. Jane trying to stand up to this, but Maureen’s banging away at her to the head so much that all the brunette can do is get her mitts up high and try to scramble away. Maureen shifts fire to banging away at Jane to the body. Whoa! You can actually here the WHUP! WHUP! WHUP! As Mo’s punches slam into Jane’s sweat soaked midsection. Jane able to use some jabs to keep from being stampeded into the ropes, but mostly she is just trying to stay away from that heavy leather. Jane manages to stay on her feet to the bell, but she looks windblown from the effort and Maureen is giving her a murderous look that promises more to come. However this makes Jane glare defiantly at the redhead before marching off to her corner.

R4: Maureen comes surging forward once again, but this time Jane is moving fast herself and she shows a neat feint to the left that draws the redhead’s attention. BOOM! Jane Russell right hand catches Maureen to the jaw and jerks her head around. Jane pumps twin left/right uppercuts that catch Maureen under the chin and sends her recoiling back on legs that have suddenly turned to jelly. With a snarl, Jane unleashes to Maureen’s big body and pummels her across the ring into the ropes. Crowd is on its feet cheering as Jane lashes away at Maureen to the body. Maureen suddenly wraps Jane up in a bear hug clinch until referee Barbara Stanwyck pushes them apart. Maureen trying to pull herself together as the action resumes and is able to get some counters going, but Jane is now all fired up and circling around as she punches away. Jane has Maureen under pressure to the bell and comes away with winning the round by a wide margin

R5: Now both fighters are out fast they clash hard at mid ring with solid shots to the jaw that seem to stagger both. However Maureen regains her senses first and swings again at Jane’s head, but Jane recovers in time to duck the shot and plant a deep, meaty hook into the redhead’s stomach. Maureen falls back, but rallies as Jane seeks to follow-up. They fall into circling and countercircling. Jane showing she’s got some good footwork, but Maureen landing enough of those booming rights to make the brunette quake. Jane shows toughness herself in coming back to punch away at Maureen to the body. Then this turns into a toe to toe action as they both lift short rights and lifts into each other’s bodies. Jane has to give ground as the punishment she’s taking to the body mounts. Maureen working hard, but she’s gaining ground at the cost of taking heavy body punishment herself. Crowd is loving all this and applaud loudly at the bell. Judges give the round to Maureen by a narrow margin.

R6: The slugfest continues as Maureen and Jane come rapidly from their corners and this time they both attack to the body. Ribs, chest and stomachs are getting worked over with raking lefts and rights mixed with deep meaty uppercuts. The effect of this is cause both of them to start gasping for air as they try to maintain the power of their punches. Maureen looks to be suffering the worst of this, though she won’t back up, but her punching power starts to slide as the round progresses. Jane senses this faltering and it gives fresh power to her punching. She has Maureen tilting forward with her gloves coming down to shelter her aching torso. This gives Jane her opportunity, she suddenly drops to a crouch and comes shooting up with her right. Maureen is slow to react and then KA-POW! The mighty right of Jane Russell catches Mighty Maureen O’Hara under the chin and MAUREEN IS LIFTED OFF HER FEET! MAUREEN THUNDERS ONTO HER BACK AS THE RING SEEMS TO SHAKE FROM THE IMPACT! Crowd is momentarily speechless as Jane trots to the neutral corner with a big smile on her face. Maureen is stretched out, arms over her head and chest heaving. Barbara Stanwyck moves in and starts counting. Maureen does stir and pushes herself up on one arm to look around with a blank look on her face. That’s all she’ got as Barbara finishes:



After: Brief epilogue to the fight as Jane Russell tells someone sticking a microphone in her face: “Some fight, wasn’t it? I can see why they think she’s tough because she is, but not tough enough to beat Jane Russell! I’m the new Big Woman in Town and all others better look out!”

No comment from Maureen O’Hara, though there is a mention of a “disappointing first fight I had in 1944 with Jane Russell, but that wasn’t the end of our story.”

Apparently not, as it is reported that the two became frequent opponents on the Hollywood Celebrity Lightweight scene. It is not clear who won the most of these encounters, but fans can only hope more such films can be found and enjoyed. 




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