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The Two Dempsey's


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This month I have decided to combine the two great pugilists of the past who shared the same name.


As boxer's however, they couldn't have been more different. Both are legendary Hall of Famer's and the greats of the era, if not all time. But that's where the similarities end.


Jack Dempsey "The Nonpareil" was a lightweight & middleweight pugilist who fought in the latter part of the 19th century (1883 to 1895), and was considered one of the great ring artists of all time. Dempsey captured the world lightweight title in 1884 by knocking out George Fulljames in 22 rounds, and won the middleweight title with a win over George LaBlanche in 1886. Many who saw him fight claim that with a bit more weight he could have had John L's measure.


Jack Dempsey "The Manassa Mauler" was a heavyweight who fought in the early part of he 20th century (1914 to 1927), and wasn't considered for his ring art, but for he sheer power and ferociousness he brought to every fight. Dempsey captured the heavyweight title with a three round knockout win over Jess Willard in 1919.


The one thing they did have in common however, was that none of their real names was Jack.


Jack Dempsey "The Nonpareil"

The Nonpareil, or "without equal" was a name given to Jack Dempsey because of his sublime boxing skills he displayed. Born on December 15, 1862 in Ireland, Dempsey whose real name was John Edward Kelly came to America as a child, and although an accomplished wrestler, fought his first professional fight at the age of twenty.


Dempsey would go on to win his first 14 fights, and as it says on the back of his 1887 Lorillard Mechanics Delight card, had not been beaten, the closest to defeat was being held to four draws.


Dempsey eventually lost by way of KO to George LaBlanche (who was also a popular figure on cards of the 19th century) in 1889 (in the 32nd round!), but was allowed to retain the title as LaBlanche knocked Dempsey out with what was delcared an illegal punch.


He held title for almost five years until the great Bob Fitzsimmons ko'ed him in 13 rounds on January 14th 1891 to capture the title.





Jack "The Manassa Mauler" Dempsey


Jack Dempsey, whose real name was William Harrison Dempsey had two brother's who also fought under the name Jack Dempsey in honour of Jack Dempsey The Nonpareil.


Dempsey would often challenge men to fights in bars before having his first professional fight in 1914 with a drawn decision against Young Herman.


Dempsey's first few years were sporadic with a loss and 2 draws against Willie Meehan in 1917 and a first round knockout loss, and the only one of his career to Fireman Jim Flynn in the same year.


Shortly afterwards, Dempsey employed Jack Kearns and fought up the ranks with a string of first round knockouts between 1917 and 1918, before knocking out the much bigger Jess Willard in 1919 for the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Willard went down a total of 7 times in the first round before succumbing to Dempsey's aggression and power in the third.


Jack went on to victories over fellow Hall of Famers Georges Carpentier (KO4) and Tommy Gibbons (W15). The Carpentier fight broke fight records for gate receipts with a crowd of over 80,000 turning up to see the one sided battle.


In 1923, Dempsey fought one of the most bizarre fights in the history of boxing against Luis Firpo from Argentina. After knocking Firpo down seven times in the first round,


Firpo hit back and knocked down Dempsey twice, one of them seeing Dempsey sail through the ropes and onto the press tables. Jack finally won the battle by knocking Firpo out in the second round.


Dempsey lost his title against the skillful "Fighting Marine" Gene Tunney with a 10 round decision in 1926. Dempsey would face Tunney again in front of over 100,000 spectators the following year in a rematch after knocking out Jack Sharkey in seven rounds earlier in the year in a fight that would be forever known as "the battle of the long count".


Tunney was knocked down in the seventh round, but as Dempsey didn't go into the neutral corner immediately, the referee didn't start to place the count on Tunney who had already been down for a number of seconds. Tunney finally got up on the count of nine, boxed Dempsey for the remained of the fight and won a ten round decision. This fight was portrayed in many cards throughout the 20th century, and to this day remains a popular subject. Dempsey retired from the fight game a few months later.


Jack Dempsey amassed a record of 80 fights, with 60 wins (50 ko's), 6 losses, 4 draws and 6 no decisions. Dempsey was the Mike Tyson of the early 20th century with his ferocious fighting style and like Tyson a massive drawcard for the fight fans. A very colorful and popular figure, Dempsey also managed fighters, officiated matches and owned a popular New York restaurant. He also served in World War II as a Commander in the Coast Guard.


Jack Dempsey died in 1983 at the ripe old age of 87 and to this day remains one of the most loved American sportsmen of all time.



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