Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jack Dempsey

William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey ("The Manassa Mauler") (June 24, 1895 – May 31, 1983) was an American boxer who held the world heavyweight title from 1919 to 1926. Dempsey's aggressive style and exceptional punching power made him one of the most popular boxers in history. Many of his fights set financial and attendance records, including the first million dollar gate. He is listed #10 on The Ring's list of all-time heavyweights and #7 among its Top 100 Greatest Punchers. He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Early life and career of Jack Dempsey
Born in Manassa, Colorado, with the name of William Harrison Dempsey, he grew up in Colorado and Utah, in a poor family of mixed ancestry. His father, Hiram Dempsey, was of Irish, Cherokee, and distant Jewish ancestry, and his mother, Mary Celia (née Smoot), was of Irish and Cherokee descent. Both parents became Mormon converts, and Jack was baptized on August 2, 1903, after he reached the required age of accountability. Jack would later write, "I'm proud to be a Mormon. And ashamed to be the Jack Mormon that I am." Because his father had difficulty finding work, the family traveled often. He dropped out of grade school to work. Dempsey left home at the age of 16, eager to start a better life for himself. Due to lack of money, he frequently had to travel underneath trains and sleep in hobo camps. However, Dempsey was a strong, powerful youth who soon discovered a talent for fighting. With the help of his older brother Bernie, he commenced training as a professional boxer. In 1927, tragedy befell Dempsey's family when his other brother, John, shot his own wife, then killed himself in a murder-suicide.
Desperate for money, Dempsey would occasionally visit saloons and challenge for fights saying "I can't sing and I can't dance, but I can lick any SOB in the house." If anyone accepted the challenge, bets would be wagered. According to Dempsey's autobiography, he rarely lost these barroom brawls. A little known fact about Dempsey is that for a short time, he was a part-time bodyguard for Thomas F. Kearns, president of The Salt Lake Tribune and son of Utah's U.S. Senator Thomas Kearns. (no relation to Jack Kearns) The two men remained friends for years afterward.
Dempsey's exact boxing record is not known, because he occasionally boxed under the pseudonym, "Kid Blackie". (His use of the pseudonym continued until 1916). Meanwhile, he first appeared as "Jack Dempsey" in 1914, after an earlier middleweight boxer Jack "Nonpareil" Dempsey, 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 rounds to Jack Downey. During this early part of his career, Dempsey campaigned in Utah, frequently entering fights in towns up and down the Wasatch mountain range and keeping in shape with such sparring partners as Frank VanSickle.
He followed his loss against Downey with a knockout win and two draws versus Johnny Sudenberg in Nevada. Three more wins and a draw followed when he met Downey again, this time resulting in a four-round draw.
Ten wins in a row followed — a streak during which he beat Sudenberg and was finally able to avenge his defeat at the hands of Downey, knocking him out in two rounds. Three more non-decisions ensued. (At this point in the history of boxing, many states and counties forbade the use of 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 county where the fight was held).
While the United States fought World War I in 1917, Dempsey worked in a shipyard while continuing to box. Afterward, he was accused by some boxing fans of being a slacker. It was not until 1920 that he was able to clear his name on that account, when evidence was produced showing he had attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army, but had been turned down. After the war, Dempsey spent two years in Salt Lake City, Utah — "bumming around", as he called it — in a very tough America, before returning to the ring.

copy of wikipedia

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