Remembering Jack “Manasa Mauler” Dempsey!

By Boxing News - 06/22/2023 - Comments

By Ken Hissner: The former heavyweight champion Jack “Manasa Mauler” Dempsey was once a hobo where he learned to fight.
Dempsey turned professional in November of 1914. Being born in Manasa, Colorado, he took the name “Manasa Mauler.”

Dempsey was 25-1-5 when he took on Fireman Jim Flynn, 69-34-23. The Pueblo battler gave Dempsey’s head a quick shove toward his right and sent a short right hand hook through Dempsey’s guard and straight to the point of the chin, and the fight was over. It was a real wake-up call for Dempsey being stopped for the first time and only time.

Two fights later, Dempsey met Willie Meehan, 77-12-33, losing a decision. Two fights later, he beat Meehan. Several fights later, they fought back-to-back draws and a final one, with Dempsey losing for a second time to him.

In October of 1917, Dempsey took on Gunboat Smith, 74-25-9, winning by decision. In February of 2019, in a rematch with Flynn, he scored a first round knockout. In July, he knocked out Fred Fulton, 41-6-1, in the first round.

Dempsey’s future looked good when he fought Meehan, 88-17-39, for the fifth time, losing a decision. Two fights later, he knocked out Battling Levinsky, 142-32-32.

In July of 1919, Dempsey finally got a shot at the world title against Jesse “The Pottawatomie Giant” Willard, 24-5-2, who was 6’6 ½”, to his 6’1”, who won the title by knockout in 26 rounds over Jack “The Galveston Giant” Johnson, 53-5-11, who Ring Magazine listed as the greatest champion in the history of the division. Dempsey had Willard down seven times in the first round. After knocking him out in the third round, Willard had bones broken in his face and body from the brutal attack by Dempsey.

In Dempsey’s third defense, he knocked out French champ Georges Carpentier, 82-11-5. Then defeated Tommy Gibbons, 86-3-3.

Then came the famous fight Dempsey had with Argentina’s Luis Angel Firpo, 25-2, who Dempsey had down seven times in the first round; then, in the same round, Firpo sent Dempsey through the ropes with a powerful right hand. The press at ringside helped Dempsey back into the ring before he was counted out. In the second round, he knocked out the heavier by 25 lbs. Firpo.

It would be three years before Dempsey had his next fight in September of 1926 against the former American light heavyweight champion Gene “The Fighting Marine” Tunney, 77-1-3, before 120, 557 in attendance at Philadelphia’s Sesquicentennial Stadium losing his title by decision.

Ten months later, Dempsey took on future world champion Jack “Boston Gob“ Sharkey, 27-6, landing a low blow not agreeing with the referee in a fight-ending blow with the winner fighting Tunney.

This would be the second time with the Firpo, the first that would be a history-making controversy in September of 1927 at Chicago’s Soldiers Field.

In the seventh round, Dempsey knocked Tunney to the canvas and as usual, stood over him, awaiting him to get up and finish him off. What he forgot was under a new rule, he had to go to a neutral corner but didn’t, giving Tunney about an extra five seconds before getting up at the count of nine instead of being counted out if Dempsey went to the neutral corner.

It was called The Long Count Fight and ended the career of Dempsey. Tunney would have one more fight and also retire.

Dempsey ended his career with a 53-6-8 record with 43 knockouts and was inducted into the IBHOF. Dempsey was rumored to have avoided fighting Harry Wills but proclaimed the only fighter he feared was the great Sam Langford, who would also, along with Tunney, be inducted into the IBHOF.

On my visit to Catskill, New York, in 1982, I sat in the bedroom of 17-year-old amateur Mike Tyson viewing a Dempsey film supplied by his manager to be Jim Jacobs, “Fights of the Century” who Tyson loved the look of the ferociousness of Dempsey and entering the ring with no socks and no robe that as a professional he duplicated.

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