Jack Dempsey’s Double/Trouble in the Bronx

By Norman Marcus on September 4, 2018
Jack Dempsey’s Double/Trouble in the Bronx
Dempsey shook his head. Mistaken on the street for the famous German boxer yet again!

If you take a good look at a picture of the two ex-champs standing together, you really could be seeing double!

It was Thursday, June 8th, 1933 and former heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey had to get to Yankee Stadium and fast. He was not to be a referee this night but the promoter of the complete boxing card. The main event had sold out all the seats in the ballpark including the infield. It was a heavyweight bout between two famous contenders, Schmeling and Baer. Eighty thousand fans were coming out to see the former heavyweight champion, Max Schmeling, take on the west coast phenomena from Livermore, California, Max Baer. The winner was to get a shot at Jack Sharkey, the reining heavyweight champion of the world. It was to be the highlight of Dempsey’s new career as a promoter and showman. Jack was enjoying the business end of boxing now, more so than the drama in the ring. He often said, “I was a pretty good fighter. But it was the writers who made me great.”

The Jewish Baer was taking on the German Schmeling, who was Hitler’s favorite boxer. This night’s main event was as much about sports, as it was about 1930s politics. Dempsey had therefore convinced Baer to wear a Star of David on his trunks for the bout, “sewn there by his aunt, Emma Edelstein. A cestus was wrapped around his hand inside his right glove and a small golden Star of David was wrapped into the bandages of his left glove.” (A cestus was a Roman gladiator’s hand covering, made up of leather bands wrapped around the hand.)  Dempsey thought news of the six-pointed star would help increase the gate money in New York City. He was right! It did!

The Manassa Mauler’s fighting days were long over by now but Dempsey, who always stayed in shape, still looked ready to jump into a ring with some pretty tough customers. His style had been that of constant movement and speed of attack, bobbing, weaving and short punching. Jack was so aggressive that the rule to go to a neutral corner after a knockdown was put in solely because of Dempsey! Otherwise Jack would stand over a decked opponent, ready to attack again, sometimes before the man could get up on his feet.

As a promoter, the list of bouts he was associated with over two decades was long and familiar. Jack made money for all his fighters. King Levinsky, Max Schmeling, Tony Canzoneri, Louis Kid Kaplan, Jim Braddock, Tony Galento, and Max Baer just to name a few. There were many other lesser known fighters between 1929 and 1952 who always got a square deal from promoter Jack Dempsey.

After dropping the Baer camp (Max, brother Buddy, manager Ancil Hoffman and trainer Mike Cantwell) off at Yankee Stadium in the afternoon Jack got back into his Packard. He then drove downtown to his Manhattan office. Dempsey had to tie up some lose ends before the evening’s boxing card began. Everyone he bumped into begged him for free tickets to this main event. It was a sellout, as he knew it would be. Doc Kearns, Dempsey’s old manager, had taught him well. If there were big bucks to be made, Kearns and Dempsey were there. The difference between the two was that Dempsey spread his money around. A generous guy like Jack was always an easy touch for an old pug in need. Kearns on the other hand, would just step over the guy. Dempsey wouldn’t die with a lot of money but he would have lots of friends at his funeral.

“When Jack left his office, to finally go over to Yankee Stadium, he discovered that he had given away every ticket that he had. He did not even have one left for himself. ‘I wonder if I will be able to get in,’ he muttered to a friend.”

He anxiously drove back to the Bronx, trying to beat the rush of people descending on the ballpark. Now he shouldn’t have any problem, after all he was Jack Dempsey. He was world famous! He bounced up to the VIP gate and started to walk through. It was getting late and dusk was turning into night. A cop stopped him at the turnstile. Jack began to explain who he was… but the officer didn’t recognize him and began to call for assistance. He asked if Dempsey had a driver’s license. This was taking way too much time. Jack quickly retreated and walked down to the regular public entrance, out of sight of New York’s finest. The guys here were regular stadium security. Jack was gonna give it another go. People on the street usually recognized him. Where were they now that he needed them?

He walked right up to the guards and said he was late. He had to go right in and get ready for the main event! The two guys looked at each other and grinned. Dempsey breathed a sigh of relief. He should have been inside an hour ago. They asked him to autograph a boxing program for the main event. Dempsey promised he would on his way out. They nodded their heads. “Hey Mr. Schmeling, thanks a lot!” shouted one guard. Dempsey just kept walking. He shook his head. Mistaken on the street for the famous German boxer yet again! But that night he took it as a compliment. Friends told him that the German looked a lot like him but Dempsey couldn’t see it.

How embarrassing it would have been to be kept out of the biggest fight of the year. A fight that had taken Jack himself months to put together! The boys at Gleason’s Gym would never have let him forget it!

But if you take a good look at a picture of the two ex-champs standing together, you really could be seeing double!

Sources: New York Times, Friday June 9, 1933, Sports Section, P.21
The Boxing Record, Jack Dempsey Promoter, 1929- 1952

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  1. Zena Warrior Princess 01:47pm, 09/07/2018

    Oy Vey! You are meshiha!✡️

  2. Koolz 08:19am, 09/07/2018

    Zena Warrior Princess
    Get off WikiPedia it’s called Stupidpedia for the Stupid.

    There no such thing.  The History didn’t start at one point where this is our Religion.  The history is 10s of Thousands of Years Old.  50 thousand years old, 100s of Thousands years old.

    I know things little Princess that turn your mind into knots.
    (I gave you very small taste of Alchemy)

    There is such thing as respect ones religion because respect of Truth comes first and there are 100s of Religions.

    I don’t think you know where Kahbbalah came from.

    The Judea Symbol is 100s of silly symbols mixed with 100s of beliefs.

    I suppose you think it’s Anti Semitic to know the Truth of Symbols.  There is no Anti Semitic it’s made up unless your talking about Arabs.

    There is no chosen people that is also made up. 

    This is Time of Rising of Atlantis all Truths will come forward and All Truths will be revealed.

    Not sure where you get any Nazi from?  That sounds like you have Psychological Complex.

    Stick to boxing sister.

  3. Zena Warrior Princess 05:46pm, 09/06/2018

    Be that as it may Koolz. The Star of David is today universally known
    as a symbol of the Jewish people. Since the 3rd Century CE it has turned up in Jewish cemeteries. It has been found off and on in Jewish Temples since the Middle Ages. Also used in Kabbalah, a form of Jewish Mysticism also.
    It was formally adopted by the Zionist movement at the turn of the 19th century as a symbol. So while it may not date to the time of David like the Menorah, it is generally accepted today as a symbol of the Jewish people. That is why Max Baer wore it starting in 1933. His father was Jewish and he identified as a Jew.
    Be a bit more understanding of others religion or you may be misunderstood as a racist or Nazi follower. Which I do not believe you are.

  4. Koolz 06:21am, 09/06/2018

    Guy had a lot of energy for that 10th round! 
    I have seen some heavy weight fights that go pretty much like this one did. 

    Star of David?  There is no such thing as Star of David or Symbol of Israel it’s all made up.

    The Star is Two Triangles on top of Each other:  Alchemy with Koolz!

    The Upper Pointed Triangle is the Male Penis and Represents Solar (Male) The Sun.

    The Bottom Triangle is Venus Women and Represents Lunar (Female)
    The Moon.

    This Duality is Above and Below.  Because all things are connected on all levels and it is this Duality that is balanced in people and in Nature.

    If I sit in the Lotus Position I form a Triangle, but I also form an upside down Triangle as there is always another level of consciousness.  Since this is 3d space I now make up a Star tetrahedron the Matrix of Energy in Person.  What many call a Torsion Field.

    If I mathematically increase the Tetrahedron to 64 we get the Flower of Life, the Symbol of all things and Higher Consciousness.  All Laws of the Universe are in the Flower of Life.

    All this starts with Two Triangles, Male and Female, Two Truths of Life that exist.  To create Life it is a Union of Male and Female Relationship.