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Used in the US since the 1920s, originally primarily of boxers. Popularized by Jack Conway of Variety, who also popularized baloney and bimbo. Further popularized by Ham Fisher in his comic strip Joe Palooka, about a boxer (published in newspapers since 1930, particularly popular in 1940s).
palooka (plural palookas)
- (US slang) A stupid, oafish or clumsy person.
- (US, boxing, bridge and similar ventures) Someone incompetent or untalented.
- 1923, Lincoln Star, Nebraska, March 1923:
- But [Jack] Dempsey against some palooka who had been press agented into greatness and into the form of a Dempsey menace -- that would pack any outdoor arena.
stupid, oafish or clumsy person