Tunney, James

Tunney, (James Joseph) “Gene”

(1898–1978) boxer; born in New York City. Although he boxed as a youth, he came to notice when he won the light heavyweight title of the American Forces serving in Europe in World War I (he was in the U.S. Marines). He was the world heavyweight champion (1926–28) and twice defeated Jack Dempsey during the 1920s "golden age" of sports. He was the beneficiary of a controversial "long count" in the second Dempsey bout in 1927 when he was knocked down and given a delayed count before coming back to defeat Dempsey on points. Cultivated and well spoken, he posted a career record of 65 victories (43 knockouts), two defeats, and one draw. In World War II he served in the U.S. Navy as director of its physical fitness program. His son, John V. Tunney, was U.S. Senator from California (1971–77).