Dempsey-Tunney 1927: The Long Count…

By Norman Marcus on March 1, 2012
Dempsey-Tunney 1927: The Long Count…
Gene Tunney said he could have gotten up anytime; he was just following the count.

It could have been a gangster movie from Warner Brothers. You just needed Bogart, Cagney, and Robinson…

It could have been a gangster movie from Warner Brothers. You just needed Bogart, Cagney, and Robinson…

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Gene Tunney vs Jack Dempsey, II



Jack Dempsey -vs- Jack Sharkey 7/21/27 part 1



Jack Dempsey -vs- Jack Sharkey 7/21/27 part 2



Jack Dempsey -vs- Jack Sharkey 7/21/27 part 3



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  1. Brian Ivon Jones 07:36pm, 11/24/2013

    I remember meeting Gene Tunney in 1969 while I was working at a resort in the British Virgin Islands. Being a mad keen boxing enthusiast it was a wonderful experience being able to talk to Gene for the two weeks he stayed at the resort.
    He was an intelligent and witty gentleman with a fund of interesting stories.
    We did discuss the two Dempsey fights and one of his comments stuck in my mind. he said people always forget in the second fight Jack Dempsey was knocked down by Gene Tunney which was the hardest punch thrown in the fight.
    He did tell me a very funny story about Ernest Hemingway who fancied himself as a bar room brawler which i won’t recount as the author comes out of it rather badly but I seem to remember Gene’s finished the story by telling me he was forced to demonstrate to Ernest Hemingway the difference between an enthusiastic amateur and a very good professional.

  2. Michael Hegan 06:38pm, 05/19/2013

    ‘Fixing’ a fight was ...and never has been something Boxing has had to deal with.
    Bricks in the gloves were always whispered about when Dempsey damned near beat Jess Willard to death….

    IT was also whispered that it was supposed to happen in the first round…and Dempsey was supposed to ‘get outta Dodge’ ASAP…..

    ...instead..Willard had to take several more rounds of a horrific beating…before it had to be called.

    Jake LaMotta had some problems with this matter…and only cupla yrs back….‘Cheato’ got caught loading his gloves….

    so…...COMMISSION… licensed Boxer agrees
    hard ball medicals…as per Commission request
    random drug tests
    conduct requirement
    disability and pension options
    rigourous official training and screening

  3. Michael Hegan 06:21pm, 05/19/2013

    Iron Beach BUDDY….s’up ......
    we’re just getting rid of the snow…and dealing with the local flooding from annual run off…

    Had to get my girlfriend to haul up my window air conditioner unit from my basement….
    while she was down there….she turned on all my outside water outlets (gotta turn ‘em off for the winter…or you’ll explode all your water pipes due to freezing..)
    She’s six foot plus…and is a weight lifter…NOT A BODYBUILDER….but whatever she gets a hold of ...will generally move

  4. Michael Hegan 06:11pm, 05/19/2013

    from the footage available….I’d have to say Tunney beat the count…and could have gotten up earlier…had it been necessary.
    Tunney was a cool customer…and knew when to stay down…
    Dempsey ...had he not wanted to hump Tunney’s leg…..and should have gone to the neutral corner….may well have got his KO…..but he let his groin do his thinking…..

    Still…......One of the most memorable fights of all time…and will be for a century or so…..

  5. Michael Hegan 06:07pm, 05/19/2013

    you must give an artist his due…....Mr Marcus…..thank you for a great read….you educate the uninformed…and you bless the fans with a rich ....aged and polished red wine….

    Where I’m from…..an aged wine means somebody’s Mom put it in a bottle last winter….and most of the vinegar taste is gone…..and it is about 15% alcohol

  6. Michael Hegan 06:02pm, 05/19/2013

    crooked noses controlled the fight game in those days…..not like the fine upstanding, squeaky clean ...kind warm and compassionate promoters of today

  7. Eric Jorgensen 02:18pm, 05/16/2013

    I think it was Rex Lardner, who, in his book “The Legendary Championss,” remarked, “if Jack Dempsey was smoldering iron, Gene Tunney was cold, burnished steel,” which I always thought was very apt.

    Thanks for a great article, very well-written.

  8. Iron Beach 12:25pm, 03/03/2012

    Nice read. Dempsey was a badass and a legend.

  9. Don from Prov 12:11pm, 03/03/2012

    Mr. Thresher was a young man of forty at ringside that evening and saw it all.

  10. Don from Prov 12:10pm, 03/03/2012

    A different time—


    Different world really.


    And two very different fighters facing one another.  Very good article, Mr. Marcus.  Thanks, I really enjoyed it—


    BTW: I always heard two muggers/no knife.  And of the Sharkey fight—left hook low followed by left hook to the chin.  Stories morph from mouth to mouth. 


    Of course the Sharkey fight can be viewed, and I don’t know which is true.

  11. J. Mallow 09:01am, 03/02/2012

    The Irish and the Mormon fight. A long count.

  12. d. finch 08:07am, 03/02/2012

    I visited Dempsey’s home town and tiny house in Manassas, Colorado. What a story!

  13. mikecasey 07:20am, 03/02/2012

    Thanks, Jim. I never tire of stories about the great Jack!

  14. Jim Crue 05:35am, 03/02/2012

    one more Dempsey story.
    I have good friend who was a great white hope contender in the early-mid sixties. i have photos of him at Dempseys restaurant sitting and talking with Ray Arcel and other famous boxing guys of bygone era. My friend has told me that even into his sixties Dempsey was HARD as nail. He gave my friend a poke in the ribs which 50 years later he still painfully remembers. He was and is in awe of Dempsey.

  15. Jim Crue 05:00am, 03/02/2012

    For those of you interested in Dempsey and Tunney read The Dempsey bio by Roger Kahn ” A Flame of Pure Fire”. Kahn is a respected journalist and the book is well researched.
    I believe Dave Barry the referee was ‘fixed” as the author of this piece explains. I grew up in Chicago and my great uncle was at the fight, he was also like many a small time bootlegger, and he swore it was not on the level.
    For those interested in Tunney there was a bio written about him a few years ago that is also wonderfully researched and written. I have forgotten the author, I think his last name is Cavanaugh, but a search of the internet will tell you. The great trainer Ray Arcel toward the end of his life talked about Tunney’s alcoholism after his fighting days, which was a well kept secret especially in that generation. When I read the Tunney bio and read reviews of the book the only negative comments were about the fact that no bio has ever addressed his problem with alcohol.
    Thanks for a good article.

  16. mikecasey 02:25am, 03/02/2012

    First class article.

  17. Paul 01:29am, 03/02/2012

    I read Dempsey’s book/boxing manual recently. Really enjoy the frank, common-sense style of writing and old-timey phrases. Same as with the quotes in this article. Something much more mythical and impressive about these characters/events than will ever be left by this generation. Endless reels of Mayweather’s massive house on MTV Cribs…?

  18. Jack Lewis 10:16pm, 03/01/2012

    Great intro w dempsey / the picture painted was crisp and sharp!! Great read

  19. the thresher 05:49pm, 03/01/2012

    I was at ringside. It was a long count.

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