By David Martinez / Boxing Historian / dmboxing.com
The Fight – Heavyweight Championship
Date – July 4, 1919
Site – Bay View Park Arena, Toledo, Ohio
Distance – Scheduled for 12 rounds
Knockdowns – Willard down seven times in Round 1
Result – 3rd round stoppage (KO3) as Willard called a halt after Round 3 ended
Attendance – 19,650
Purses – Willard $100,000 and Dempsey $27,500.
Promoters – Tex Rickard and Frank Flournoy
Known as “Kid Blackie” and “The Manassa Mauler”, Jack Dempsey was certainly one of the greatest heavyweights in the history of boxing.
Born William Harrison Dempsey on June 24, 1895 in Manassa, Colorado, he competed from 1914 to 1927 and reigned as the world heavyweight champion from 1919 to 1926 with five successful title defenses, against Billy Miske (KO3), Bill Brennan (KO12), Georges Carpentier (KO4), Tommy Gibbons (W15), and Luis Ángel Firpo (KO2), before losing the title to Gene Tunney (L10).
Dempsey had a total of 75 bouts with 54 wins (44 by knockout), 6 losses, 9 draws, and 6 no-decisions. He was inducted into the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954, the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1980 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
In the 1920’s Dempsey ranked second only to Babe Ruth among the greatest sports icons in America. He officially announced his retirement from the ring on March 4, 1928.
In August of 1975, I visited the Jack Dempsey Museum in Manassa, Colorado. It certainly was a highlight for me to that point in my younger days and since the beginning of my involvement in boxing that started way back in 1961. Here’s sharing a few of those photos from 1975; please note that the one damaged photo is me posing with the actual gloves Dempsey wore in the Firpo fight on September 14, 1923.