Tracy Callis

Nonpareil Jack Dempsey
Boxing's First World Middleweight Champion

Joseph S. Page

This book is a well-researched, detailed, informative account of the career of the old-time fighter, Jack Dempsey, the "Nonpareil." As with his books, Primo Carnera: The Life and Career of the Heavyweight Boxing Champion and Pro Football Championships Before the Super Bowl: A Year-by-Year History, 1926-1965, Joe Page has produced a magnificent book. This one ranks as the very best work about the sterling boxer from years past.

The Introduction in this book is a succinct, abbreviated account of this man's life and boxing career. It gives the reader a "feel" for what's coming in the following chapters and, as one reads through them, the knowledge of Jack Dempsey's personal life and skills as a boxer is enriched with detailed facts and meaningful information.

A discussion of the various rules that governed contests over the years follows. This chapter goes a long way towards explaining how the records of many boxers appear the way they do. I recall, years ago, when I first began studying the career records of fighters, I asked myself if this man was so good, why are there so many draws in his account. Questions such as these are resolved.

The early years of Dempsey's life, 1862 to 1882, are covered next - his family history, his birth in Ireland, his travel to America, the growth years, early work experience, the initial associations with wrestling and then boxing, etc.

Mr. Page then covers each year of the great fighter's career - 1883, 1884, 1885, etc., and speaks about the goings-on in his life. The fistic contests in which he competed, the events surrounding these bouts, conditions associated with the contests, the people he dealt with in various ways, other contests held on the undercards, his travels, and particular happenings in his personal life at the time. The progress of his tuberculosis (consumption), the consequential strain upon Dempsey, and the effect upon his ring career as well as his personal life can be seen as one reads through the various events.

Joe Page has words and descriptions about the many ring encounters that Dempsey had and provides lengthy discussions for the major boxing contests in the Nonpareil's career - conditions surrounding the bout, various events related to the match, blow-by-blow accounts of the fight, the after-effects of some bouts, etc. The contests discussed in greatest detail are those against George Fulljames, Jack Fogarty, George LaBlanche #1, Jack Burke, Johnny Reagan, George LaBlanche #2, "Australian" Billy McCarthy #1, Bob Fitzsimmons, "Australian" Billy McCarthy #2, and Tommy Ryan. Excellent coverage.

In addition to the boxing information, much data is provided regarding Margaret Brady, the woman Jack married. Facts are also given about their two daughters, Anne and Alice.

Yes, this book is loaded with reports, comments, and observations regarding many of Dempsey's contests, and this information prompted a number of questions in this reader's mind. For example, was there ever a lightweight/welterweight/middleweight boxer as quick as this man, Jack Dempsey? Was there ever a lightweight/welterweight/middleweight boxer with as much "natural" skill as this man, Jack Dempsey?

Perhaps, "Sugar" Ray Robinson or "Sugar" Ray Leonard or Roy Jones, Junior - at their best - were his equals in these areas? Or, maybe Bob Fitzsimmons, "Philadelphia" Jack O'Brien, Harry Greb, Charles "Kid" McCoy, or Tommy Ryan? Who knows for sure?

But, one thing is certain, this man, Dempsey, ranks among the best ever. Mother Nature granted him wonderful physical gifts/talent - plus a keen intellect and "savvy" - that enabled him to handle other men with ease.
In the end, a magnificent boxer and a fine gentleman, after a bitter struggle with tuberculosis (consumption), finally succumbed, much too early in life. Out, out brief candle!!!

Like the great man himself, this book is a winner, and so is the author. It is the authority, a "must have" for the boxing fan who wants to know the facts - the who, what, when, where, why, which, and how - regarding Jack Dempsey, the "Nonpareil." With this book, Joe Page has provided the long-overdue story of a great fighter.

A copy of this fine book can be ordered directly from and

Joe Page resides in Nashville, Tennessee. He can be contacted by emailing him at

Paperback: 348 pages, numerous photo images, Jack Dempsey's ring career record, $39.95
Publisher: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces

ISBN (print): 978-1-4766-7764-4
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-4766-3669-6


Nonpareil Jack Dempsey
Boxing's First World Middleweight Champion

Callis description --

Jack Dempsey is considered by many as one of the greatest boxers, pound-for-pound, who ever fought in the ring; He moved well and was extremely agile and skillful. He was a two-handed fighter who could box or punch. His jab was quick and accurate. His right hand punch was stiff. His left was stiff too. He was game and cool under pressure. He could fight whatever style was needed to win. In short, he was a crafty boxer-puncher who was an excellent ring general.

Perhaps, the best way to describe Dempsey is "quick, quick, quick." While he was not a crushing, awesome power hitter, he did possess solid blows that stung and took their toll. In many a fight, his man was battered and bruised while
Jack had hardly a mark.

He was a man that could truly handle himself. He often fought men 10-25 pounds heavier. During the early and mid 1880s, and even into the later years of that time period, he was spoken about as being as the equal of the great heavyweight champion, John L. Sullivan. Many people thought that if he were a larger man he could defeat Sullivan. In fact, lots of fans thought he could beat John L. as he was.

In July of 1944, old-time referee Billy Roche authored an article that appeared in The Miami (FL) Daily News. In it, Roche wrote, “Jack Dempsey, the original, was hailed by critics as the most perfect fighter of modern fisticuffs. At his peak he was without a peer; thus, the Nonpareil.”

Dempsey was inducted into the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992

Review courtesy of Tracy Callis, Historian, International Boxing Research Organization
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