A palooka is a boxer — not a champion but a second-rate fighter. If you were a sports writer in the 1930s, you probably used the word palooka a lot. Plus you probably wore one of those cool fedoras.
This funny-looking word has a meaning that's not very funny if it applies to you — a palooka is a boxer who's not very good. Palookas are run-of-the-mill, second- or third-rate boxers whose careers don't go very far. Since success is rare, most fighters are palookas. In the 1920s, Joe Palooka was an American comic strip about a prize fighter who didn’t like to fight.