June 24, 1895
Died: May 31, 1983
Bouts: 80, Won: 60, Lost: 6, Drew: 8, KOs: 50, No Decisions: 6
Jack Dempsey was one of America's first great sports heroes. His
savage style captivated the public and made him as popular a figure
as Babe Ruth or Red Grange.
In the ring,
Dempsey was equipped with a two-fisted attack. He boxed out of
a low crouch, bobbing, weaving and bombing. He continually stalked
the man in front of him and was an unrelenting and remorseless
was so prodigous that he once scored knockouts in 14 and 18 seconds.
In his 78-bout career, Dempsey compiled 49 knockouts, with 25
of them in the first round.
Harrison Dempsey in Manassa Colorado, Dempsey was one of 11 children.
He left home at the age of 16 and traveled the west on freight
trains with hobos, settling occasionally in mining towns. It was
during that period of his life that Dempsey learned how to fight
as a means of survival. Dempsey's career turned around when he
met manager Jack "Doc" Kearns. Under Kearns, Dempsey
knocked out Fireman Jim Flynn, Fred Fulton, former light heavyweight
titlist Battling Levinsky and Gunboat Smith.
On July 4,
1919, Dempsey challenged heavyweight champion Jess Willard at
an outdoor arena in Toledo, Ohio. Temperatures in the ring reached
100 degrees that day. Willard was beaten to the canvas seven times
in the first round. There was nothing artistic about Dempsey's
attack. It was pure rage. The fight ended when Willard failed
to answer the bell for the fourth round.
easy title defenses against Billy Miske, Bill Brennan, Georges
Carpentier Tommy Gibbons. The Carpentier fight generated boxing's
first million-dollar gate.
14, 1923, another chapter was added to the Dempsey legend. He
faced Argentina's Luis Angel Firpo at the Polo Grounds in New
York. Known as the "Wild Bull of the Pampas," Firpo
was dropped seven times in the first round. But before the stanza
ended, the challenger sent Dempsey through the ropes with a single
right hand, silencing the 80,000 in attendance. Dempsey made it
back into the ring and beat the 10-count. The fight ended 57 seconds
into the second round with Dempsey a knockout winner.
inactive in 1924 and '25 and put his title on the line against
Gene Tunney in 1926. At 31, Dempsey fell behind on points and
was never able to change the momentum.
In July of
1927, Dempsey knocked out future champion Jack Sharkey in the
seventh-round (the knockout blow was setup by a punch that landed
low). Two months later, Dempsey met Tunney at Chicago's Soldier
Field. The fight drew a crowd of 104,943, generating a gate of
$2,658,660. Tunney was again outboxing Dempsey when he was dropped
in the seventh round.
fight, it was agreed upon that after a knockdown, the fighter
scoring the knockdown would go to a neutral corner. But when Tunney
hit the canvas, Dempsey hovered over the fallen champ, ignoring
the referee's order that he retreat a neutral corner. By the time
Dempsey was ushered across the ring and the referee began his
count, it is estimated that Tunney had 14 seconds to recover.
Tunney got up and won the fight by decision, but the long-count
controversy would remain etched in boxing history.
after the Tunney fight but remained a popular figure until his
death in 1983.