The Italian Almanac

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The Walking Mountain

The Walking Mountain

Home movies by Italian boxing legend Primo Carnera between the 1930s and 1950s have been restored after his daughter discovered them in an attic. The 8mm and 16mm footage, restored by the Cineteca del Friuli cinema museum, include shots of Carnera training, playing golf, hunting and playing with his family. In one scene the giant ex-boxer is seen sitting on a horse with just the tips of his huge shoes managing to squeeze into the stirrups.

The movies add to a trove of Carnera material collected for the 100th anniversary of his birth in 2006, when a film about Italy's only world heavyweight boxing champ was made. The movie, Carnera The Walking Mountain, got its world premiere at Madison Square Garden, the storied New York venue where Carnera beat Jack Sharkey for the title in 1933, before a gala screening at George Clooney's Lake Garda villa.

Carnera was a 2.02-metre (six feet, seven inches) former circus performer in France who got into the US fight game to support his two children in the Depression years and rose to wrest the greatest crown of all from the fearsome Sharkey in June 1933. He lost his title the following year to the even more ferocious Jewish-American boxer Max Baer. The Carnera-Baer bout featured briefly in the 2005 hit film Cinderella Man.

Nicknamed the Ambling Alp, Carnera had an unfair reputation as a lumbering performer with massive strength, few skills and a shortlived career. In fact he fought from 1925 to 1945 - interrupted by wartime service in the Italian Resistance - and had a respectable 88-15 record including 68 knock-outs - 15 of them in the first round. He won 18 straight fights by KO between December 1929 and June 1930.