Jack Dempsey

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Dempsey, Jack

(William Harrison Dempsey), 1895–1983, American boxer, b. Manassa, Colo. Dempsey, called the "Manassa Mauler," emerged from fights on saloon floors near mining camps to become (1919) the world's heavyweight champion and one of the major sports figures of the 1920s. He sealed his slugging reputation in his first title fight by knocking down the gigantic champion, Jess Willard, seven times in the first three minutes. Dempsey held the crown until losing to Gene TunneyTunney, Gene
(James Joseph Tunney), 1898–1978, American boxer, b. New York City. He began boxing in neighborhood clubs as a youngster. In World War I, he served in the U.S.
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 in 1926. In a rematch Dempsey knocked Tunney down in the seventh round, but failed to immediately return to his corner, thus allowing Tunney the benefit of a legendary 14-second "long count." After retirement, he worked occasionally as a referee and spent nearly four decades as proprietor of a popular New York City restaurant.


See R. Roberts, The Manassa Mauler (1979, repr. 2003); R. Kahn, A Flame of Pure Fire (1999).

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Dempsey, (William Harrison) Jack

(1895–1983) boxer; born in Manassa, Colo. He worked in the copper mines and boxed in the mining camps of Colorado before becoming a professional boxer in 1912. He fought in more than 100 semi-pro and professional bouts before winning the heavyweight championship in 1919 by knocking out Jess Willard. He successfully defended his title five times before losing to Gene Tunney in an upset in 1926. In the rematch in 1927, Dempsey knocked Tunney down in the seventh round but delayed going to a neutral corner, so the referee gave the controversial "long count" (estimated from 14 to 21 seconds) and Tunney went on to win on points. Although one of the most popular and well-paid boxers ever, Dempsey effectively retired from professional boxing and moved on to devote himself to sports promotion and various businesses, the best known of which was the restaurant he opened on Broadway, New York City. Nicknamed "The Manassa Mauler," he retired with a professional record of 62 wins (49 knockouts), six losses, ten draws.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.