Encyclopedia > Jack Dempsey

  Article Content

Jack Dempsey

Jack Dempsey (June 24, 1895-May 31, 1983), was a famous boxer who won the world Heavyweight title. During the 1920's he was involved in many famous fights.

Dempsey as a 16 year old began hopping on trains and travelling west to fight as a professional, and his exact record is not known because sometimes he used the name of Kid Blackie to book himself into fights. This practice continued until 1916. In between, he first appeared as Jack Dempsey in 1914, drawing with Young Herman[?] in six rounds. After that fight, he won six bouts in a row by knockout (as Jack Dempsey), before losing for the first time, on a disqualification in four to Jack Downes[?]. During this early part of his career, Dempsey campaigned in Utah frequently. He followed his loss against Downey with a knockout win and two draws versus Johnny Summerland[?] in Nevada. Three more wins and a draw followed and then he met Downes again, this time resulting in a four round draw.

10 wins in a row followed, a streak during which he beat Summerland and was finally able to avenge his defeat at the hands of Downes, knocking him out in two. Then, three more non-decisions came (early in boxing, there were no judges to score a fight, so if a fight lasted the full distance, it was called a draw or non-decision, depending on the state or country the fight was being held in). In between the non-decisions, Dempsey refused to box with Sam Langford[?], a Black fighter who is now in the International Boxing Hall Of Fame alongside Jack. Dempsey was always aware that fights with Black opponents could bring negative society reactions.

In 1917, Dempsey went 9-1-4 in 14 bouts. Among his opponents were Fireman Jim Flynn[?], the only boxer ever to beat Dempsey by a knockout when Dempsey lost to him in the first round, and Gumboat Smith[?], a fringe contender stopped by Dempsey.

In 1918, Dempsey boxed 17 times, going 15-1 with one no decision. He avenged his defeat against Flynn by returning the favor, knocking him out in the first round. Among others he beat were Kid Levingsky[?], a top rated contender of the times.

He began 1919 winning five bouts in a row by knockout in the first round. Then on July 4, he and world Heavyweight champion Jess Willard[?] met at Toledo, Ohio, for the world title. He dropped Willard seven times in round one, and in perhaps one of the biggest bloopers in boxing history, he left the ring after the bell had sounded to finish that round, thinking the referee had stopped the fight and the title was his. Fight footage clearly shows his trainer Jack Kearns[?] claiming for him to get back in the ring. Nevertheless, he went back and finished his work, Willard quitting in his corner at the end of the third round and giving Dempsey the world crown.

In his first defense, he faced friend Billy Miske[?], knocking him out in three rounds. Years after the fight, it was learned Miske accepted the fight while suffering a terminal disease and needed the money to secure his family after death, which occurred to him two years after challenging Dempsey. Dempsey always expressed regret about that fight and declared he would have given Miske the money he needed if he'd only known of Miske's situation.

One more defense followed, versus Bill Brennan[?], before he had to face world Light Heavyweight champion Georges Carpentier of France, in what became boxing's first million dollar gate ever. In a farm that had to be rented to accommodate all the public in New Jersey, Dempsey beat Carpentier by a knockout in four rounds. After this fight, Dempsey's fame reached unexpected heights, becoming one of the 1920s top five sports heroes, along with baseball's Babe Ruth, tennis' Bill Tilden[?], American football's Red Grange[?] and golf's Bobby Jones[?]. They were known as the big 5 of sports.

In 1922 he did not fight officially, but he went on tour doing many exhibition bouts.

In 1923, he had two fights: One against Tommy Gibbons[?] in the small town of Shelby, Montana, a fight which was a financial disaster. Dempsey retained the title by a decision (decisions had already been incorporated by 1923 in boxing), but the town went bankrupt after the fight. In his second match that year, he met Argentina's Luis Firpo in a historic fight at the Madison Square Garden in New York. Firpo became the first hispanic to challenge for the world Heavyweight title, and Dempsey had him down seven times in round one, but Firpo found a combination to the head that dropped Dempsey outside the ring and on all fours before the end of the round. Dempsey hit his head against a writer's typewriting machine, but he recovered, got up at the count of nine and knocked Firpo out in the second round to retain the title.

Promoter Tex Rickard[?] then wanted to match Dempsey with Black champion Harry Wills[?] in 1924, but Dempsey refused, remembering the riots formed after each of Jack Johnson's bouts and fearing on racial repercussion after a bout of his against a Black opponent.

He got married to actress Estelle Taylor[?], a Hollywood star, during 1925 and started appearing in some films and doing more exhibition bouts, but he did not defend his title again until 1926. Among those exhibitions, there was a trip to Germany where he and future world champion Max Schmeling boxed a two round exhibition.

In '26, Dempsey met former Us Marine[?] Gene Tunney in Philadelphia, losing his title on points in ten rounds. In 1927, he knocked out future world champion Jack Sharkey[?], and this victory set up a rematch with Tunney, set up for Chicago on September 22, 364 days after losing his title to Tunney in their first bout. Dempsey was aware of the rule in which a fighter who knocks down an opponent must immediately go to a neutral corner, but he refused to immediately move to the neutral corner when instructed by the referee after knocking down Tunney in the 7th round. The referee had to escort Dempsey to the neutral corner. Dempsey knocked down Tunney with a left and right combination to the chin, and he stayed near his opponent for about 5 seconds, staring him down and not listening to the referee's instructions to proceed to a neutral corner. Boxing historians and filmmakers have counted the time Tunney stayed down between 13 and 16 seconds. But, after Dempsey finally went to a neutral corner, the referee started his count, and Tunney got up at the count of nine. Tunney later dropped Dempsey in round eight and retained the title on a unanimous decision.

He retired after this bout and made countless exhibition bouts. He opened a restaurant in New York City, which he kept open well into the 1960s, and he divorced Taylor and married another woman, who stayed his wife until his death in 1983.

Legend says that one time, an elder Dempsey was mugged by a couple of teen thieves, whom he knocked out and held until the police arrived. He made friends with Wills and Tunney after retirement, and had many books written about his life.

He had a record of 61 wins, 6 losses, 8 draws, 5 no decisions and 1 no contest, with 50 knockouts.

He is a member of the International Boxing Hall Of Fame.

Jack Dempsey is buried in the Southampton Cemetery, Southampton, New York.

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article
Northampton, Suffolk County, New York

... or older. The average household size is 2.96 and the average family size is 3.31. In the town the population is spread out with 29.3% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 ...

This page was created in 23.5 ms