Jack Dempsey was heavyweight champion from 1919 to 1926. His aggressive style and punching power made him one of the most popular boxers in history. He was the first boxer to have the first million dollar gate and many of his fights set financial and attendance records . He is listed #10 on The Ring’s list of all-time heavyweights and #7 among its Top 100 Greatest Punchers.
Title fight and controversy
On July 4 1919 at Toledo, Ohio, Dempsey and the then world heavyweight champion Jess Willard met for the world title. Some predicted a victory for Dempsey against the vastly larger champion but many called the fight of modern David and Goliath. Dempsey knocked down Willard seven times all in the first round and Willard’s corner would not let him answer the bell for the fourth round. Willard was reported to have suffered a broken jaw, broken ribs, several broken teeth and a number of deep fractures to his facial bones – an unprecedented level of damage in boxing which aroused suspicion that Dempsey had cheated.
The “loaded gloves theory” became widely known when Kearns stated (January 20, 1964 Sports Illustrated.) that he had applied plaster of paris to the customary wrappings under Dempsey’s gloves. Also boxing Historian J.J. Johnston said that the film of the fight shows Willard upon entering the ring walking over to Dempsey and examining his hands” which was not a normal procedure – implies he was concerned about foul play, Willard later claimed to have been defeated by gangsterism.
Dempsey’s next important fight was against Frenchman Georges Carpentier and took place on July 2, 1921 at Boyle’s Thirty Acres, Jersey City. Carpentier was a war hero during WWI and was a popular figure on both sides of the Atlantic. Their fight was the first to generate the first million dollar gate in boxing history making the event the first national radio broadcast reaching mostly homemade radio sets after first being telegraphed to KDKA for broadcast. In the 3rd round Dempsey began to take charge and administered a brutal beating to Carpentier and eventually stopped him in the fourth round.
Last successful title defense
In September 1923 at New York’s Polo Grounds Dempsey fought young contender Luis Angel Firpo, from Argentina and won a 2nd-round KO. Firpo was knocked down repeatedly but continued to fight back, even knocking Dempsey down twice. The second time Dempsey was floored he went sailing head first through the ring ropes, landing on a reporter’s typewriter, and taking several more seconds than the ten stipulated by the rules. This fight was transmitted live to Buenos Aires by radio, and people gathered in the streets to listen to it through primitive amplifiers.
First fight against Tunney
In September 1926, Dempsey fought Gene Tunney in Philadelphia Dempsey and lost his title on points in ten rounds. Tunney was an excellent boxer who had lost only once in his career. Dempsey could no longer display his legendary punching power or hand speed, and was easily outboxed by Tunney who would dodge, use excellent pad level, and then let loose with a salvo of punches of his own.
‘The “Long Count Fight’
The rematch took place in Chicago, Illinois, on September 22, generating an amazing $2 million gate. Dempsey was behind points when he knocked Tunney down in the seventh round. A new rule for boxing at the time mandated that when a fighter knocked down an opponent, he must immediately go to a neutral corner. But Dempsey seemed to have forgotten that rule and refused to immediately move to the neutral corner when instructed by the referee. The referee had to escort Dempsey to the neutral corner, which bought Tunney at least an extra five seconds to recover. The official timekeeper for the fight counted the time Tunney stayed down as 14 seconds. But after Dempsey finally went to a neutral corner, the referee started his count, and Tunney got up at the referee’s count of nine. Tunney dropped Dempsey for a count of one in round eight, and easily won the final two rounds of the fight, and retained the title on a unanimous decision. Because of the controversial nature of the fight, it remains known in history as the fight of “The Long Count”.
Photos of Jack Dempsey
Jack Dempsey was heavyweight champion from 1919 to 1926. His aggressive style and punching power made him one of the most popular boxers in history.
Holder of the title : July 4, 1919-September 23, 1926
Nickname :Kid Blackie, Manassa Mauler
Height :1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Reach :77.2 in (196 cm)
Death date : May 31, 1983(1983-05-31) (aged 87)
Total fights : 83
Wins by KO: 51
Draws : 11
Video from Jack Dempsey’s career