Jack Dempsey

William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey ("The Manassa Mauler") (June 24, 1895 Ц May 31, 1983) was an American professional boxer and cultural icon of the 1920s.[1] He held the World Heavyweight Championship from 1919 to 1926. Dempsey's aggressive style and exceptional punching power made him one of the most popular boxers in history.[2][3] 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. In 1950, the Associated Press voted Dempsey as the greatest fighter of the past 50 years.[4] He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame; he was inducted into The Ring magazine's Boxing Hall of Fame in 1951. Born in Manassa, Colorado, with the name of William Harrison Dempsey, he grew up in Colorado, West Virginia, and Utah, in a poor family.[5] He was the son of Mary Celia (nee Smoot) and Hiram Dempsey, and his ancestry included Irish, Scotch-Irish, English, Cherokee, and a Jewish paternal great-great-grandmother.[6][7][8] Both parents became Mormon converts,[9] 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."[10] 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.[11] Desperate for the 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.