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HEGrant
02-11-2006, 08:52 PM
Does anyone know how to locate a copy of the photo taken of Dempsey and Wills shaking hands many years later in their life, past their primes ? Dempsey looks embarrassed and Wills looks sad and staring out far away ? I've seen it but can no longer find it.

Gallicrow
02-11-2006, 09:12 PM
www.pugilistica.com/BoxingArchive1/HarryWillswithJackDempseyc1940sNYCommisioner1th_th _.JPG (http://www.pugilistica.com/BoxingArchive1/HarryWillswithJackDempseyc1940sNYCommisioner1th_th _.JPG)

http://www.pugilistica.com/BoxingArchive1/HarryWillswithJackDempseyc1940sNYCommisioner1th_th _.JPG

According to the caption this is from circa 1940, when Wills was ~51 and Dempsey ~45, but they look at least ten years older than that to me.

HEGrant
02-12-2006, 12:33 AM
Once again, I am fascinated by this group...thank you!

Kid Achilles
02-12-2006, 02:10 AM
I wish Wills could have had his chance with Dempsey. I am almost 100% he would have been knocked out, but at least he would have had his shot.

Ted Spoon
02-12-2006, 06:37 PM
The picture say's it all; Dempsey looking somewhat reluctant having never fought him n' Wills looking overwhelmed with Sadness.

I echo Kid Achilles comments that Dempsey most probably would have eaten up the big lug, but a shot was more than deserved yet never came off due to the fear of society, as it were.

1920 would have made a grand time for their bout-- Dempsey was active/in his prime and Wills was fresh n' had just defeated Fulton.

Wills was big, strong an quick -- a Dempsey win? probably, but it could have been a great fight.

Hagler04
02-12-2006, 06:53 PM
Willis is always painted as a black version of Williard, which is unfair and incorrect. According to reports, he was very quick for his size, good defensively, and of course could pack a great punch. He showed a very good chin during his career, only getting knocked out by Langford when he yas green and in fights he was winning (and Sam was one of the great punchers of all time) and then by Uzucudn when Willis was way past his best.

I'd make Dempsey a slight favorite but remember that no opponent Jack ever defended his title against really came close to the proposition that Willis was.

Roberto Aqui
02-12-2006, 08:23 PM
Don't know where you boys are getting your pyschoanalysis from, but Dempsey looked like a middle aged fighter living high on the hog. 45 I believe was the age he beat up 30 yr old Cowbow Lutrell and sent him to the hospital. Dempsey left everything in the ring and probably had few regrets since he made an extraordinary effort to fight Wills.

Wills looks dignified to me, a real gentleman, perhaps a little beat up from life after boxing. I seem to recall he bought an apartment that he managed, but he has a far off look on his face, perhaps remembering the fight that never was, or perhaps he's distracted by someone at the dinner. It's just a snapshot and I don't think you can read to much into it. They might have been laughing and armwrestling 5 min before.

gregbeyer
02-12-2006, 11:57 PM
thank you roberto. i was also going to ask how people could read so much into a snap shot.
greg

HEGrant
02-13-2006, 12:18 AM
As much as I love Dempsey, I don't think he did everything he could to make the fight happen. If he wanted the fight badly enough, it would have happened. Wills cannot be written off as some asterick. It is a tragdy he was not allowed to fight for the title. It is a bit pathetic that Dempsey ducked the top contender of his entire reign especially since he fought three light heavyweights. It is forever a dark mark on his record.

Roberto Aqui
02-13-2006, 10:56 AM
Sorry, but after the Wills fight imploded, Dempsey rode off into the Hollywood sunset. If he was ducking Wills, then he was ducking everyone, but I doubt even HE with his fuzzy logic is willing to walk that gangplank.

As far as Jack fighting lightheavies goes, well, perhaps some don't know enough about boxing history to understand the natural history of these types of bouts. Jack also fought a battalion of giant, powerful fighters in history to that point and destroyed them all. He was fighting and beating large modern sized heavies.

gazot
02-13-2006, 02:35 PM
Forget Wills v Dempsey. What about Grant v Aqui. 15 rounds, MSG, a real grudge match. ;)

timayres
02-13-2006, 11:40 PM
Yeah, all we need now is the snapshot.

PD99
02-14-2006, 12:21 AM
Tim - He, he. I was thinking the same thing and wondering who (He or Roberto) would be the guy with the forlorn look, gazing wistfully into the distance.

Roberto Aqui
02-14-2006, 12:46 AM
They look older because they probably are. The caption says with 1940s, plural, commish, not 1940. Dempsey is probably in his early 50s and Wills pushing 60.

HEGrant
02-14-2006, 01:11 AM
Roberto, was it fuzzy history to say that Wills was the number one contender for the vast majority of his career. Is is fuzzy history to say that Wills, the multi time conquorer of your hero Sam Langford as well as many other extremely tough fighters was a more challanging opponent at 6'3" or so and 215 or so than Carpentier or Gibbons, light heavyweights ? Where's the fuzzy logic there ? What giants are you talking about ? The Fred Fulton Wills destroyed in three rounds or the Firpo , who came a second from upseting Dempsey and who was shut out and beaten up by Wills for 12 rounds ?

Dempsey hid behind his management and avoided the best challanger of his career and instead fought a handpicked selection of safe opponents to maximize box office draw while minimize his risk. While he was an animal pre-Willard, post Brennan he became the Arturo Gatti of his day. I find it extremely sad and a major black mark on his record.

Management and promoters do not miss huge box office bouts if they believe their man would win. They clearly felt that Dempsey, a celebrity but never again at his best post Brennan/Carpentier, would quite possibly lose to the much bigger, battle tested, hungry Wills who was beating tremendous opposition while Dempsey was fighting handpicked eye candy. Anyone that believes that these men gave up a huge money bout because of race relations is myopic. They were scarred their huge box office draw would be destroyed by a fighter that retained his drive and hunger while Dempsey was out screwing chorus girls.

gregbeyer
02-14-2006, 03:25 AM
you have to weigh that one in your mind don't you....fight wills or screw chorus girls...hmmmm:hat
greg

PeteLeo
02-14-2006, 06:22 AM
Following his win over Kid Norfolk in '22, Wills basically "sat on his lead," fighting guys with almost as many losses as wins or whom Dempsey had already decisively beaten ("sloppy seconds"). In addition, Harry flatly refused to face both Tunney and Gibbons, each of whom actively pursued a match against him in preparation for Dempsey (indicating that the aging giant's rep was as more of a gate-keeper than a live challenger by that point -- see Herb Goldman's articles regarding this). Tex Rickard, the promoter of the age (King and Arum only wish they could be Tex), unequivocally refused to to promote another "mixed" heavyweight title fight following the aftermath of Johnson-Jefferies (which resulted in a number of murders of black citizens nationally) and was making plenty of money with Dempsey versus the cannon fodder of the year. Dempsey personally tried to arrange the match with Wills, but potential venues kept removing themselves from the equation (the threat of those damned race riots again). There certainly was no great outcry from the racist "sporting public" at large for Dempsey-Wills at that time, with Jack Johnson so fresh in everyone's memories (the "outcry" came primarily from a few virulently anti-Dempsey sportswriters -- you must remember that though he became an American icon, Jack was as hated as Ali by the "elite" members of the press during his title reign). Taking this into account, I believe the "black mark" against Dempsey is pretty well spit polished.
Wills' twelve round newspaper victory over Firpo is more impressive than Dempsey's knockout of the guy? (That seemed to be the implication, at least.) Firpo hung tough against Harry, made it competitive (went down once, I believe), and was on his feet at the final bell. Against Dempsey he landed one really stunning blow before shoving Jack through the ropes (the "one second away from winning" moment) while being dragged by his balls through a literal Hell by a man who knocked him down nine times in about four minutes, the final one for the full count. Let's not rewrite history in such a wholesale fashion, okay? PeteLeo.

Roberto Aqui
02-14-2006, 09:24 AM
[[[[Dempsey hid behind his management and avoided the best challanger of his career and instead fought a handpicked selection of safe opponents to maximize box office draw while minimize his risk. While he was an animal pre-Willard, post Brennan he became the Arturo Gatti of his day. I find it extremely sad and a major black mark on his record. ]]]]
=================================

True, I ain't the one propping up a long time heavy champ who some how managed to avoid almost a dozen prime contenders and champs in his protected career that you prop up. So I can see why you would slag on Jack for leaving the security of his promoter and manager to sign a contract to meet Wills for which he never recieved a dime for.

Gatti, eh? Keep on sipping that Koolaide. It's your free will pushing you to compensate.

PeteLeo
02-14-2006, 09:22 PM
Who fared better against their common foes?
Jack Sharkey's name ring a bell? PeteLeo.

handtomouth
02-14-2006, 09:23 PM
sharkey in his prime... when on his game was a vicious competitor w/ excellent hands and movement for a pretty big guy... its a shame we never saw a tunney sharkey fight... i think a '27 sharkey may have been able to press tunney to the point in wh/ he could inflict major damage... tunney's chin wasnt up to dempsey's... sharkey at that point in his career had a decent shot at winning such a match.

handtomouth
02-14-2006, 09:33 PM
re:


perhaps remembering the fight that never was, or perhaps he's distracted by someone at the dinner..... It's just a snapshot and I don't think you can read to much into it. They might have been laughing and armwrestling 5 min before.

does a zapruder film occur of this event???... perhaps he's looking over a grassy knoll & doesnt like what he sees 8o

HEGrant
02-14-2006, 11:13 PM
Roberto, you'd have a point if they fought years earlier and Dempsey beat the day lights out of him. Since it never happened it's just another one of your baseless analogies.

From 1919 to 1922 Wills fought and defeated Sam Langford, Joe Jeannette, Sam McVey, Kid Norfalk, Fred Fulton and Bill Tate. Granted many were in their later stages of their careers but they were still excellent, dangerous men.

Dempsey fought Willard, Miske, Brennan, Carpentier. Willard was 37 and highly inactive. Miske was suffering from Bright's Disease, which eventually killed him. Carpentier was a light heavyweight. The only decent heavyweight Dempsey fought was Brennan.

Who fought and defeated the better fighters ?

RowanSmith
02-15-2006, 02:32 AM
Thanks Cojimar--you beat me to that one.

Pete, show me one of those newspaper decisions you speak of in the Lester Johnson-Dempsey fight? I would like to see one because I never have. With Gibbons and Tunney your are talking five years into the entire episode. Wills was challenging Dempsey in 1920--and you are talking about late 1925 and 26. Please, offer me some evidence that Wills was not the general consensus guy to fight Demspey during those years--please(I am talking 1920-1926, not just 1926). Instead of blaming Wills for not fighting Gibbons or Tunnery(Gibbons who had already fought Jack and Tunney who was about to), please take a look at what you are stating. In essence, if I am correct about the slant of your argument, Wills should take the blame, or some of the blame, because he didn't fight Tunney or Gibbons in order to get a match for the championship? Please, Wills had already jumped through enough hoops at that point that I doubt he, or anyone else for that matter, felt that he needed to fight either of those guys to prove his worthiness to fight Demspey. Harry had long proven that fact. Your logic on that point seems blindly biased and far away from being on the mark. Talk about smelling hinky?
Norfolk was an imposing name--you know not of what you speak. Many newspapermen, after Dempsey beat Brennan, and Norfolk beat Tate on the same card, felt that Kid Norfolk was the best fighter in the ring that night--and that the Kid would give Demspsey a real fight if the two ever met. Ring lardner himself stated that on that night, Norfolk would have beaten Jack. Norfolk was also just about the best lightheavy in the business during that time. Certainly better than Miske--who he beat twice, or Carpentier, both of whom Demspey defended his title against. Jackson as I mentioned was not a world beater, but came into his bout with Wills with a rumored rep as a big hitter and a failry long and successful record. Wills took the fight without flinching--something Dempsey demonstrated time and again that he would not do--ie Langford, Jeanette, Smith, Wills.
I never claimed to love Dempsey, I think he is quite over-rated in fact.
Sharkey did give Wills a good going over. The difference being that when Harry pulled a blatant foul--he was disqualified. When Demspey fouled...........? Now refresh my memory, was Sharkey writhing in pain from the shot to the nuts that Jack landed or the punch to the jaw Dempsey followed with while Sharkey was grabbing his nuts and turning to the ref for help. Granted, Dempsey was within his rights(technically, however, a classy fighter would have never thrown that second punch) but please do not set that victory up as some great achievement for Dempsey--he basically fouled his way to a W.
I didn't know we were talking about Joe Louis. I am not well versed in his era of heavyweights and never claimed to be. Nor did I ever make statements about Joe and his black opponents--excellent attempt at deflection however.
I just wonder how it is that Dempsey fans, if they look deep in their hearts, beyond the blind loyalty, can truly say, "Dempsey tried to make that fight happen." Do you really believe it? And do you really believe that we can say that Dempsey was one of the best ever, when he didn't even face off with what amounts to his most worthy challenger for the majority of his reign? Please, I would really like to see someone defend that with some logic and reasonable fact.

PeteLeo
02-15-2006, 02:33 AM
Neither was Dempsey. Drink, drugs, dames, and disinterest in fighting had clearly aged the Mauler far beyond his best. But even in that used-up condition, he had the physical gifts to sustain through the early beating heaped upon him by Sharkey and then knock the man who had brutalized Wills into the Sixth Dimension.
Tunney has long been recognized as a very canny strategist, a cool-eyed and clever captain of his own career (I'm into alliteration for some reason tonight). He seldom made a move without examining all of the variables with nearly machine-like precision. Yet Gene wanted to go through Wills to get to Dempsey and the title. Doesn't that say that he regarded Jack as the more dangerous of the two opponents? Tunney wasn't in the fight game to sweep the entire division clean of challengers; he was there to make as much money as he could as quickly as possible then get the hell out. His preferance for seeing Harry in the opposite corner rather than a dissipated and uncommitted Jack speaks volumes.
Wills was a hell of a fighter, but I just don't see him as the man to unseat Dempsey when Jack was anywhere near his best. If he'd wanted to establish himself as the only challenger for the title, he would have whipped Gibbons and Tunney instead of coasting on the likes of 1-1 Buddy Jackson, 2-8 Clem Johnson, and 16-15 Jack Thompson. PeteLeo.

HEGrant
02-15-2006, 03:02 AM
Let's see...Dempsey may have just turned 32 when he fought Sharkey while Wills was 37. Nothing like apples to apples right? At that age Dempsey had been slapped silly over four rounds by Kingfish Levinsky.

RowanSmith
02-15-2006, 03:45 AM
Wills fought better competition than Dempsey, period. I would have liked to have seen Jack match up against Langford 18 times and see how he fared. Wills was fighting McVey, Jeanette and Langford in his third and fourth years as a pro, Dempsey was fighting guys like Dan Ketchell, Terry Kellar and Dick Gilbert. Jack refused to fight Joe Jeanette, while in the ring with him at MSG, in an exhibition fight during 1918. He refused Sam langford as an opponent in 1916. He was busted up by John lester Johnson in 1916, the same Lester Johnson who was knocked around a few months before by Harry Wills. Gibbons and Tunney came calling in 1925 and 1925 respectively--Gibbons after he beat Norfolk and Tunney when he was trying to get at Demspey. Funny that Gene would want to fight Harry, for he never fought a black man during his entire career. After Fulton, Wills fought Bill Tate numerous times, Kid Norfolk, who was challenging Demspey at the time and thought to be a serious contender, Tut Jackson who was an unknown entity(and proved to be a false alarm) but never the less a dangerous unknown who had piled up an impressive list of KO victories in the middle states, he fought Jack Thompson, Clem Johnson and Jeff Clarke(who in my opinion was the best middleweight in the world in 1912 or there abouts). The last few were not world beaters but Norfolk was no patsy and neither was Bill Tate.
What it comes down to is the simple fact that Dempsey never fought Wills. That is the fact that none of us can debate. Jack never fought his most worthy challenger------whatever the excuse--he didn't fight him and for me, that is a sad fact and a real asterik on the Mauler's career.(and by the way I am with HE here--if Dempsey wanted the fight it was there to be made--he didn't want the fight).

PeteLeo
02-15-2006, 04:06 AM
So what? Wills was always known for taking care of his "equipment." Not so Dempsey. Different guys age differently, especially in the ring. Are you therefore saying that Wills shouldn't have been considered an appropriate opponent for Dempsey in the months prior to the first Tunney bout? Harry was just as much older than Jack at that point, you know. Yet in that same short period of time Sharkey kicked the crap out of Wills and fought his career best bout against ex-champ Dempsey, only to end up writhing on the canvas while the full count was tolled over him. We've already covered Firpo.
By the way, did you know that a number of newspaper writers gave the unofficial verdict to Dempsey after he was "slapped around" by J.L. Johnson, even though the inexperienced kid fought most of the ten rounds with severely broken ribs? Dempsey kicked around Tate regularly in sparring, and -- like it or not -- Wills certainly wasn't doing everything he could to secure a title fight when he said Thanks-but-no-thanks to Gibbons and Tunney. Norfolk, Jackson, Clarke, etc. were hardly imposing names to the public at large (who paid for the tickets -- no PPV back then). To put it simply, Sharkey crushed Wills and Demspey (just as over the hill as Wills) crushed Sharkey, plus he fought both of the men who were actively campaigning for cracks at Harry. The "black mark" remains only in the minds of the indefatigable Dempsey haters (even if they profess to "love" him).
One more question: no one has ever fully explained why Louis gets a pass for shutting the doors to Black heavies for far longer than Dempsey (and at a much different period of history), aside from the blind Lewis and a supposedly shot Walcott (who was screwed out of the title) -- why is that? The openly admitted reason for keeping Joe away from his fellow Blacks was because no one wanted a repeat of the Johnson debacle, yet Joe is beloved and Jack is demeaned and villified. Something smells hinky to me. PeteLeo.

Cojimar 1945
02-15-2006, 05:01 AM
Dempsey was only 32 when he fought Sharkey, Wills was 37. Wills was clearly not in his prime. This is totally irrelevant regarding Dempsey vs Wills.

RowanSmith
02-15-2006, 06:15 AM
But even in that used-up condition, he had the physical gifts to sustain through the early beating heaped upon him by Sharkey and then knock the man who had brutalized Wills into the Sixth Dimension.

Is punching someone in the nuts and then cheap shotting them a physical gift?


Tunney has long been recognized as a very canny strategist, a cool-eyed and clever captain of his own career (I'm into alliteration for some reason tonight). He seldom made a move without examining all of the variables with nearly machine-like precision. Yet Gene wanted to go through Wills to get to Dempsey and the title. Doesn't that say that he regarded Jack as the more dangerous of the two opponents? Tunney wasn't in the fight game to sweep the entire division clean of challengers; he was there to make as much money as he could as quickly as possible then get the hell out. His preferance for seeing Harry in the opposite corner rather than a dissipated and uncommitted Jack speaks volumes.

Tunney challenged Wills because it was his only way at the time to get TO Dempsey. You act as if he had a choice--Dempsey or Wills. Please, Tunney never fought a black mand and he never would have unless there was something very, very large at stake---say a shot at the heavyweight champion? And I think you are proving my point. Why would Gene challenge Wills if Harry was not considered the number one guy--answer--he wouldn't have. He knew that if he could beat Wills then he would get the title shot. Funny thing though, Gene didn't even need to beat Wills--he went straight to go and collected his $200. Funny how that worked.


Wills was a hell of a fighter, but I just don't see him as the man to unseat Dempsey when Jack was anywhere near his best. If he'd wanted to establish himself as the only challenger for the title, he would have whipped Gibbons and Tunney instead of coasting on the likes of 1-1 Buddy Jackson, 2-8 Clem Johnson, and 16-15 Jack Thompson.

Again, not addressing anything in the way of fact. You continue to talk about Tunney and Gibbons and refuse to discuss the five years prior that Harry was avoided by Dempsey. It is frustrating to say the least.
Clem Johnson had only 10 fights? Jack Thompson who fought from 1912 through 1929 had only 31 fights?

PeteLeo
02-15-2006, 06:22 AM
Boy, when you say you're no Dempsey fan, you really speak the truth, don't you? Don't suppose that colors some of your perceptions, do you?
Re Johnson: go to Boxrec under Jack's entry. The editors try whenever possible to assign wins, losses, and draws in No Decision bouts by reviewing newspaper accounts, thus Dempsey has some ND newspaper wins and some losses. The Johnson bout is ruled a draw, and this is arrived at by a consensus of the New York newspaper reports (as stated in the subtext to that entry). So, unless every sports reporter called it even-steven, at least as many had Dempsey winning as had Johnson ahead. Okay?
As for the rest . . . where to start, where to start . . . .
I never said that Norfolk was no good. I said that I've never read of any popular support for the man to face Dempsey, and in those days popular support for a match (not biased sportwriters' opinions) was mandatory in order to make money. No matter if Norfolk was six or eight times the fighter Carpentier was, he wouldn't have drawn even a quarter of a million dollar gate. And Rickard refused to make a mixed match for the title at that point in time (which you haters continually ignore or dismiss). Rickard was the most powerful in boxing by about a light year, and if he didn't want a fight to be made on a national or international scale, by God, it didn't get made. And, yes, I certainly do think Dempsey tried to have the Wills match made. He was the champion, but he wasn't the boss.
Aw, poor Sharkey might have gotten tagged with a low blow (no conclusive films or photos of the moment exist, and ringsiders were split virtually 50/50). The same sort of iffy, low-or-borderline shots he had been lobbing into Dempsey's midsection all night long. But it didn't drop him, did it? Nope, that fucking howitzer of a left hook (which Sugar recently called better than Louis or Frazier's) left poor Sharkey a shuddering mass of protoplasm. Wills lost by foul because he wanted to lose by foul. It was more acceptable to him than being KO'd (I've read in MARCIANO: BIOGRAPHY OF A FIRST SON that Rocky did the exact same thing in an early amateur bout).
Newsmen pretty much detested "slacker" Dempsey in those days, so it's hardly stunning to find that they were picking just about anyone to lift the title from him. Shoot, if you search, I'll bet you can find quotes from some of these "unbiased" scribes picking Carpentier to win.
As I said earlier, Wills (who was still older than Dempsey even in the early Twenties, since you haters appear to be intent upon completely absolving him for the lousy performance against Sharkey due to his age) basically quit acting like a legitimate heavyweight challenger after the '22 Norfolk bout. He wanted the newspapers to get him his title fight, and the hell with able willing bodies like Tunney and Gibbons. Now, you can call that "blaming the victim" if you wish, but unlike some, I don't dismiss the racial pressures of the time. Black fighters simply had to work harder for the same opportunities as whites. Did Jack Johnson whine until Burns faced him? Or did he chase him from America to Europe to bleeping Australia? When Louis lost to Schmeling, did he let the laughing hyenas (those "unbiased" sportswriters) who "had known all along that Joe didn't have the heart and chin of a champion" (among their less disgusting summaries) signal the end to his title quest? Did he satisfy himself by beating old men and griping? No sir. He fought whoever would get into the ring with him.
I wonder who Firpo thought to be the better fighter? PeteLeo.

PeteLeo
02-15-2006, 06:40 AM
Those are verifiable wins, losses, and draws. Boxrec ain't perfect, but it's better than whatever is currently in second place.

You really like that nut shot dodge, don't you? Prove it happened. The films certainly don't make a conclusive case.

Hmmm, Tunney "had" to go through Wills to get the title shot. But . . . he didn't fight Wills and he did fight for the title. I'm so confused . . . or maybe there's a bit of logic manipulation going on. What was Gibbons' reason for challenging your idol? He'd already lost, what?, thirteen of fifteen rounds to Dempsey. I doubt that even a victory over Harry would have created a groundswell of support for a rematch.

Is it "avoiding" anything to point out -- for the damned thousandth time -- that Rickard was the sole arbiter in deciding who did and did not fight Dempsey until the second portion of the Twenties? As I said earlier, handsome, Continental, war hero Georges Carpentier had no business in the same arena with an animal like Dempsey, but he had the public in his hip pocket and made that legendary Million Dollar Gate a reality when Wills would have drawn enough interest to fill a high school gymnasium. But I doubt that this fact will stop you and your buddies from blaming Dempsey for the rampant racism of the period.

Nip at his heels all you wish. The revisionists and haters have been going full bore since the days when oldtimers first muttered that Jack would have flattened "Clay," but I'll bet that a hundred years from now the name Dempsey will still be the crown of one of sport's greatest kings. Aggravating to think about, ain't it? PeteLeo.

Cojimar 1945
02-15-2006, 07:30 AM
Peteleo, I think you may be missing the point. Dempsey seems to have been willing to face Wills but the fact that he didn't leaves some doubt as to whether he would have beaten Wills had they fought.

Dempsey did seem to generally better the other great black heavyweight of the era George Godfrey in their sparring sessions so he deserves credit for this.

HEGrant
02-15-2006, 12:07 PM
The argument is ridiculous. Denial of Dempsey not fighting far and away the best challanger of the vast majority of his reign. Excuses that Dempsey had no control over making it happen. Analogies drawn between Wills at 37 and Dempsey at 32. It all adds up to one thing: there are Dempsey apologists here that completely refuse to deal in fact. Their words are their own legacies here unless the computer crashes again.

The point Smith made about a comparison of opposition speaks for itself. Wills fought much, much better men far more often. Dempsey flat out refused to fight an old Langford. To his last days he wrote that he was not sure he could have beaten him at his best. It's nice that Dempsey had the luxury of reflecting in his old age. Wills had no such luxury. He had to fight this exceptional great 18 times.

I have always been conflicted about Dempsey. On one hand I feel his skills were exceptional. There is no doubt that he was tough as nails and the real thing. His background did not suffer a creampuff lifestyle. However, within a year of winning the title, Dempsey stopped being a fighter and instead became a celebrity.

He lived the high life, made tons of money and stopped fighting with any consistency. Without question he regressed as a fighter. At the same time Wills, a bigger, superbly conditioned and skilled , highly active and motivated man who fought and defeated much better opposition was simply denied his shot. I think it's terrible and I think it's far from a lock that Dempsey beats that man.

Can we name any other legend of this sport that ducked his top contender as long and as blatent as Dempsey did Wills ?

mike21
02-15-2006, 01:48 PM
wills made dempsey run and hide- keep dreaming and drinking- wills fought like a novice and he should consider himself lucky he never got in the ring with dempsey- dempsey would have humilated him and destroyed him- JUST LOOK AT ANY FILM OF WILLS- its not to be discussed- langford, mcvey ,jimjohson lousy amatuers-no technique- dempsey should have fought him but it would have been another 1 round ko.

PeteLeo
02-15-2006, 01:49 PM
How much bandwidth is there on this site? I mean, if every word I type on this subject is going to be reprinted several times over in every response, we may soon be staring at overload or something.

All of the bluster can't disguise the fact that Rickard controlled who fought in the biggest fights available during most of Dempsey's career. Rickard didn't want a Black man fighting for the heavyweight title (and he was not shy in admitting to this), so none did until Joe Louis years later. To try to smear Dempsey (who always felt that -- unlike Langford -- he had Wills' number) by making him responsible for the racial politics of the time is like denying the greatness of the best leaders of the ancient world because slavery was still in existence. Dempsey tried to make the fight when he finally broke away from Kearns and Rickard. It didn't happen.

Let me get this straight -- Wills was older than Dempsey at the time of the Sharkey fight but not in '20-'22? That seems to be your argument. What age was he when he had to go the full twelve against Firpo, whom Dempsey had already gutted in less than two? You guys are trying to have the absolute best of everything here, i.e., "Wills fought better comp than Dempsey, period, but you can't compare their common opponents, since Harry was a decrepit old man by then, but the age thing wouldn't have mattered if they had fought each other since Wills would have plastered him." Does that sound the least bit familiar?

I guess since you can put words in my mouth (when did I say I'm not a fan of Dempsey?), then I must be "full of it" on any topic that you decide to apply your imperial will (no pun intended) to, hmm? Must be fun being omnipotent.

So, since Boxrec's examination of the Dempsey-Johnson match newspaper reports settled on a draw verdict as the most appropriate one but you staunchly deny that anyone could have seen Dempsey the winner, I suppose every sportwriter must have called it a draw . . . ? Yeah, that's really likely.

To repeatly claim that Tunney wanted Wills only because he couldn't get to Dempsey otherwise and then admit to the historical fact that he got to fight Jack after Wills flatly refused the challenge and attempt to make a point out of all of this seems the height of self-deception. You're arguing against your own premise. By the way, Dempsey wanted to end his career by whipping Tunney (which he fully expected to do) and then taking on Wills in the grand finale. But this eases your hatred not a whit, of course.

Hitting a man (Sharkey) who is standing right in front of you during a round when no halt in the action has been called by the ref is "sucker punching" him, is it? Man, you'll say anything to push your agenda, won't you? I wonder if beating up a much smaller, much older, blind senior citizen (Wills-Langford) several times is even half as bad as "sucker punching" a younger tough guy of comparable size who's whining to the official? There sure must be a lot of "dirty" slut boxers around, since most guys don't ask for permission before punching their opponents in the mouth with legal blows.

You can have all of the reservations you wish about Dempsey or any fighter, but when you have to climb out on such slender branches and ignore settled historical facts in order to keep bashing someone, please drop all pretense to objectivity. PeteLeo.

RowanSmith
02-15-2006, 02:54 PM
Boy, when you say you're no Dempsey fan, you really speak the truth, don't you? Don't suppose that colors some of your perceptions, do you?

Of course it does--but if you are trying to claim that you are not a Dempsey fan--well then you are just, well for lack of a better phrase, full of it. Your preceptions are clearly colored when it comes to Dempsey--I doubt anyone who reads your posts would see otherwise.


Re Johnson: go to Boxrec under Jack's entry. The editors try whenever possible to assign wins, losses, and draws in No Decision bouts by reviewing newspaper accounts, thus Dempsey has some ND newspaper wins and some losses. The Johnson bout is ruled a draw, and this is arrived at by a consensus of the New York newspaper reports (as stated in the subtext to that entry). So, unless every sports reporter called it even-steven, at least as many had Dempsey winning as had Johnson ahead. Okay?

Not Okay. You wrote "did you know that a number of newspaper writers gave the unofficial verdict to Dempsey" and I stated that I did not. This was an assumption on your part or something you made up to support your argument. I asked you for proof and you used a one line sentence from BoxRec that states the newspaper men in New York listed the bout as a draw. From that you came to your own conclusion that some of the writers gave the fight to Dempsey and some gave it to Johnson--and therefore a draw. Well, again, that is proof of nothing and simply an assumption on your part--one that I might add supports a Dempsey agenda. I have read and possess(sp?) several reports on that fight, and I have never seen anything better than a draw for Dempsey in that fight. I am OK with that---but you evidently are not.


never said that Norfolk was no good. I said that I've never read of any popular support for the man to face Dempsey, and in those days popular support for a match (not biased sportwriters' opinions) was mandatory in order to make money. No matter if Norfolk was six or eight times the fighter Carpentier was, he wouldn't have drawn even a quarter of a million dollar gate. And Rickard refused to make a mixed match for the title at that point in time (which you haters continually ignore or dismiss). Rickard was the most powerful in boxing by about a light year, and if he didn't want a fight to be made on a national or international scale, by God, it didn't get made. And, yes, I certainly do think Dempsey tried to have the Wills match made. He was the champion, but he wasn't the boss.
Rickard was not God--he was a promnoter and a very powerful one--but to blame him is ludicrious--Dempsey had other options and some very lucrative ones as well. Again, IMO, if Dempsey wanted the fight--it would have been made. I was not talking about a match between Norfolk and Dempsey, but simply trying to illustrate the fact that Wills was not simply fighting set-ups and bums.


Aw, poor Sharkey might have gotten tagged with a low blow (no conclusive films or photos of the moment exist, and ringsiders were split virtually 50/50). The same sort of iffy, low-or-borderline shots he had been lobbing into Dempsey's midsection all night long. But it didn't drop him, did it? Nope, that fucking howitzer of a left hook (which Sugar recently called better than Louis or Frazier's) left poor Sharkey a shuddering mass of protoplasm. Wills lost by foul because he wanted to lose by foul. It was more acceptable to him than being KO'd (I've read in MARCIANO: BIOGRAPHY OF A FIRST SON that Rocky did the exact same thing in an early amateur bout).
Newsmen pretty much detested "slacker" Dempsey in those days, so it's hardly stunning to find that they were picking just about anyone to lift the title from him. Shoot, if you search, I'll bet you can find quotes from some of these "unbiased" scribes picking Carpentier to win.
You are correct it was a great left hook--one thrown at a virtually defenseless opponent---great punch set up by a beautiful shot to the groin. Great combo puncher was that Dempsey!


As I said earlier, Wills (who was still older than Dempsey even in the early Twenties, since you haters appear to be intent upon completely absolving him for the lousy performance against Sharkey due to his age) basically quit acting like a legitimate heavyweight challenger after the '22 Norfolk bout. He wanted the newspapers to get him his title fight, and the hell with able willing bodies like Tunney and Gibbons. Now, you can call that "blaming the victim" if you wish, but unlike some, I don't dismiss the racial pressures of the time.

What is your point about the age. Wills was 37 and Dempsey 32 when they fought Sharkey--that is five years of an age difference---Wills lost to Sharkey--no one is debating you--but are trying to say that the Wills of say 1921 would not have fared better--what? And again you seem stuck on Gibbons and Tunney--they came along to challnege Wills in 1926--let me repeat 1926---who else did Harry avoid in your opinion for the previous five and half years he was challenging Dempsey? Racial pressures? This was not 1889 Pete, it was the 1920's. Sure there was still racism in the world and many who did not want a black man fighting for the title, but if Dempsey had fought Wills it would not have ruined his reputation or his drawing power--c'mon. The guy and his management hid behind the color line for seven years, plain and simple. Harry's color alone did not prevent the match--his skills and the danger he represented did. Jack fought black men before, sparred with them in training camps and exhibited with them throughout the country---so why would he not fight Wills--because he was dangerous and stood a chance of winning. That is it in my mind. If Wills was some soft set-up, Jack would have fought him.


Black fighters simply had to work harder for the same opportunities as whites.

Or in Wills' case they just didn't get them. Again you are trying to place blame on Wills which is just plain wrong. Even in 1922, when you claim Wills "basically quit acting like a legitimate heavyweight challenger after the '22 Norfolk bout" he had already been challenging Demspey for two years. If you want to use that kind of logic then Dempsey stopped acting like a real champion right after he won the title in 1919 when he formally announced that he would bar black men from fighting for the title. I mean, c'mon its just ridiculous.

Sharkey
02-15-2006, 03:03 PM
that mean Dempsey is not among THE best fighters in history?

There is a difference between examining what didn't happen....

versus attempting to speculate on what might have happened or why it didn't happen and further if the theory of why means what the future would have held had it happened.

Wills' circumstance has somehow gone from examining and focusing on Wills and the other disenfrachised black fighters to an examination of Dempsey's fighting ability and courage...and self-confidence...and his character.

Dempsey is the whipping boy of revisionist historians who see fit to piece history together outside the ring to determine the abilities and merits of fighters within the ring.

His testimony to not being sure he could beat this or that guy is taken as a revelation of Dempsey revealing his own own mediocrity...whereas when other fighters state similar things we applaud them for being humble.

Can't wait for that Nostradamus machine to come on the market...I need one that everyone else that knows the score and what really happened and why seem to have.

---------

My username is not a homage to Jack Sharkey, or any Sharkey in particular... but I will state that Sharkey was a threat to Tunney in that Gene would face a spoiler heavyweight that was large, strong and fast. Pure guessing leads me to wonder if Gene facing another boxer..but one with a streak of aggression that often, mid fight, changed to basically giving no openings and doing minimal work would pose a real puzzle for a Tunney that had already climbed the mountain.

The erratic nature of Sharkey suggests his head was not in the game like many of his contemporaries. He also made no bones about fighting only for money which made him exactly zero friends in the press. His 'give a damn' nature is translated in a spotty resume, pointed often to as a revelation of his mediocrity.

Still, he was definitely a better fighter than Schmeling when they met the first time..and by then was already at a point where his best efforts were mixed liberally with bad ones.

Skills aside, however...Sharkey could be counted on to nullify whatever gifts he had, plus he had chronic bad mitts. I see a very competitive bout with Tunney facing a guy that made most guys dance to his beat. Tunney's handspeed, punching angles and guts make him a likely winner...but Sharkey facing a Tunney having achieved his goal (the title, Dempsey) makes him a live underdog.

I can't pick a guy based upon the upside to beat a guy that was consistantly a winner.

RowanSmith
02-15-2006, 03:04 PM
Those are verifiable wins, losses, and draws. Boxrec ain't perfect, but it's better than whatever is currently in second place.

BoxRec is wonderful but used consistently by folks to list facts that are incomplete. Clem Johnson and Jack Thompson had long thorough careers and should not be represented with 10 fight and 31 fight records to prove a point. That is using incomplete information to mislead.


You really like that nut shot dodge, don't you? Prove it happened. The films certainly don't make a conclusive case.

I can't prove it--you got me there. Doesn't change the fact that Sharkey was defenseless when he was sucker punched by Demspey--again well within his rights but cheap none the less.


Hmmm, Tunney "had" to go through Wills to get the title shot. But . . . he didn't fight Wills and he did fight for the title. I'm so confused . . . or maybe there's a bit of logic manipulation going on. What was Gibbons' reason for challenging your idol? He'd already lost, what?, thirteen of fifteen rounds to Dempsey. I doubt that even a victory over Harry would have created a groundswell of support for a rematch.

Again, as I stated earlier, Tunney challenged Wills because it was his only way at the time to get TO Dempsey. You act as if he had a choice--Dempsey or Wills. Please, Tunney never fought a black mand and he never would have unless there was something very, very large at stake---say a shot at the heavyweight champion? And I think you are proving my point. Why would Gene challenge Wills if Harry was not considered the number one guy--answer--he wouldn't have. He knew that if he could beat Wills then he would get the title shot. Funny thing though, Gene didn't even need to beat Wills--he went straight to go and collected his $200. Funny how that worked. Gibbones thinking was probably similar. Nothing confusing about it. Tunney got his shot instead of Wills because he was white--Jack couldn't draw the color line on him.


I'll bet that a hundred years from now the name Dempsey will still be the crown of one of sport's greatest kings.

Yes, but Harry Wills will always lurk in the shadows as the man who made that great king run and hide.

Sharkey
02-15-2006, 03:31 PM
Dempsey wanted the fight it would have been made?

What evidence is there for that speculation?

RowanSmith
02-15-2006, 06:17 PM
Dempsey wanted the fight it would have been made? What evidence is there for that speculation?

None. I believe I stated that that was my opinion.


wills fought like a novice and he should consider himself lucky he never got in the ring with dempsey- dempsey would have humilated him and destroyed him- JUST LOOK AT ANY FILM OF WILLS- its not to be discussed- langford, mcvey ,jimjohson lousy amatuers-no technique- dempsey should have fought him but it would have been another 1 round ko.

Could be one of the more un-informed statements I have ever read on this board. Langford was a lousy amateur? What? Langford was a league better than anyone Dempsey ever fought.


Let me get this straight -- Wills was older than Dempsey at the time of the Sharkey fight but not in '20-'22? That seems to be your argument. What age was he when he had to go the full twelve against Firpo, whom Dempsey had already gutted in less than two? You guys are trying to have the absolute best of everything here, i.e., "Wills fought better comp than Dempsey, period, but you can't compare their common opponents, since Harry was a decrepit old man by then, but the age thing wouldn't have mattered if they had fought each other since Wills would have plastered him." Does that sound the least bit familiar?

I just don't understand your reference here. Wills was 36 in 1926, Dempsey was 32. Your point is what? I just don't get what this means to you. Wills was done as a fighter at age 36, so what? Five years earlier, at age 32, in 1921, he was a different fighter. If they have common opponents int heir respective primes we should compare then. Otherwise, it really doesn't say much at all. If you want to compare the two men's common opponents that is fine, but lets make sure this is apples to apples. That is all I am saying here, nothing else.


I guess since you can put words in my mouth (when did I say I'm not a fan of Dempsey?), then I must be "full of it" on any topic that you decide to apply your imperial will (no pun intended) to, hmm? Must be fun being omnipotent.

Hey Pete, I apologize if this comment was harsh--I did not mean to insult you personally. I am sincere in that I never want to attack someone personally and in re-reading my post it seemed to come off a bit that way--so I do apologize. I was just trying to emphasize the point that we both had our biases. No harm intended.


So, since Boxrec's examination of the Dempsey-Johnson match newspaper reports settled on a draw verdict as the most appropriate one but you staunchly deny that anyone could have seen Dempsey the winner, I suppose every sportwriter must have called it a draw . . . ? Yeah, that's really likely.

Again Pete I have the newspaper reports and yes that is the case. Out of the five I have, 4 say draw and one said Johnson won.


To repeatly claim that Tunney wanted Wills only because he couldn't get to Dempsey otherwise and then admit to the historical fact that he got to fight Jack after Wills flatly refused the challenge and attempt to make a point out of all of this seems the height of self-deception. You're arguing against your own premise. By the way, Dempsey wanted to end his career by whipping Tunney (which he fully expected to do) and then taking on Wills in the grand finale. But this eases your hatred not a whit, of course.

I ask you why else would Tunney challenge Wills, a black fighter, when he never before fought a black fighter? Please answer me this. And again, it supports my argument that everyone viewed Wills as the rightful challenger---Tunney would never have challenged him unless there was a reason and strategy behind it.
All of Dempsey's supposed intentions are fine, but his fighting record is what counts and again, the one fact that neither of us can dispute is that they never fought.


You can have all of the reservations you wish about Dempsey or any fighter, but when you have to climb out on such slender branches and ignore settled historical facts in order to keep bashing someone, please drop all pretense to objectivity.

I don't think that I have climbed out on any slender branches. I can back up most of what I have said concerning the facts with primary sources. Of course I can also admit that I have a biased opinion, something which you have yet to do outright, and that some of my thoughts on this subject are based only on opinion. Again, I am not claiming to be fully objective--quite to the contrary--I have admitted my thoughts on Dempsey and my parciality for Wills. No if you do the same, maybe we can agree to disagree and move on.

Sharkey
02-15-2006, 07:11 PM
I guess since I didn't ask for specifics, my bad.

I'll ask now what your opinion is based upon?

That is, formally: What makes you believe that had Dempsey wanted to fight Wills that a fight between them would have happened?

Just looking for the information to build an opinion on.

mike21
02-15-2006, 08:04 PM
did you ever see films of wills-did you-the only reason he lasted as long as he did against sharkey was he was completely defensive- wills , battling j johson, and mcveys techiques were so defensive and primitive compared to dempsey- its a joke- if you have these films you would know- if you have them - then youre a fuckin blind man- who managed wills? kearns did- and kearns would have watered at the mouth for a dempsey boutand when dempsey tried to get the bout- the goddamm check bounces. langford had greatness but wide punches, alot of them, dempsey would kill people like that.do us all a favor and get some films of these chumps of yours-THAT IS WHY THE FIGHT WAS NEVER MADE- wils was a one punch at a time, defensive, slow boat and everybody knew it- especially dempsey and kearns. enough from here- the times were against it. bye from this thread.

mike21
02-15-2006, 08:21 PM
as you stated you are biased toward wills, thats ok-but get thr films. kearns had wills for a wlie and never thought much of him; and knew dempsey would have murded him as anybody who saw the two fight ,like sam langford, who thought dempsey would have koed wills in 22 and dempsey best heavy ever. kearns thought johnson and tnhen dempsey as the best ever- and knew the wills bout would have been easy for dempsey.

handtomouth
02-15-2006, 08:49 PM
hey mike... where's the best source to get info on kearns accounts of his career & opinions in boxing? was a book ever done on him? ... I didn't know kearns had wills under his umbrella at some point... that is interesting... if he was being straight in re to his comparisons of wills vrs dempsey... he would be a valuable opinion to weigh.

HEGrant
02-15-2006, 09:49 PM
Did Mike actually call Sam Langford a novice ? If I read that right it is the single dumbest thing I have ever read on this Board in the past three years.

Using the Firpo bouts as barameters of Dempsey and Wills works against Dempsey.

Dempsey engaged in a life and death slugfast in which he was knocked down multiple times and almost lost the fight. Wills dominated Firpo, winning every round.

Kid Achilles
02-15-2006, 10:17 PM
That's a bad comparison from what I've read as Firpo was allegedly very soft and had lost the desire to train when he fought Wills. He was not the same man who traded bombs with Dempsey just a year earlier.

Roberto Aqui
02-15-2006, 11:01 PM
[[[[[[Dempsey engaged in a life and death slugfast in which he was knocked down multiple times and almost lost the fight. Wills dominated Firpo, winning every round.]]]]]]]]
==============

Yeah, right. Boxrec had the fight as a draw, then an NC, and now it's a newspaper win for Wills. Real dominant, sorta like Wills went the distance and was so unimpressive the promoter couldn't get any financing for the Dempsey bout. Dempsey took care of Firpo before the 2nd and had the public starving for more.

No wonder you thought Holmes was exciting against Frank. Now we know.

Ted Spoon
02-15-2006, 11:37 PM
Dempsey did what his management told him. As soon as he became champ he blurted out the words that both Rickard n' Kearns had embedded into his head -- No fighting any coloured fighters.

It was in his best interest to try an smooth out his 'slacker' image by being a white mans champion. In 1924 they signed for a bout, but it just never came off for vaying reasons. Dempsey was a pawn in the game and should never be accused of 'ducking', because he had no doubts of who was king whilst champion.

There has been a few mentions of John Lester Johnson giving Dempsey a rough ride. Dempsey, at the time, was barely a 170lbs fighter sleeping in central park (who had to stock up on free meals and root beers to make match making weight no longer a problem). Reilser threw him in with Johnson who broke three of his ribs in the second round and then he offered him a bout with Langford...

Jack was at a stage where he needed a manager to train and look after him, but he was fighting just to survive against experienced men, twice his size.

Apart from a few haymakers and a 'pushy' rally on the ropes, Firpo was thoroughly dominated by Jack. When close, Luis had no answer for Dempsey's inside inferno of short uppercuts and hooks. He got lucky luring Dempsey on after taking a knee to get away from his fire (a custom trick in South American Boxing at the time).

Jimmy De Forrest (the man who chiselled Dempsey for Fulton n' Willard) wanted more time to work on Firpo, he wanted the match vs. Dempsey to be postponed, but it was all about $ and went ahead.

Firpo quickly lost his fighting desire and never had the same motivation in training after his 3:58 seconds of now immortalized fame.

handtomouth
02-16-2006, 12:04 AM
in re to dempsey fighting wills...

from '17 thru dempsey's early reign as champion kearns had ironfisted control of who jack fought... dempsey seemed to go along w/ this b/c it got him the belt, made him a truckload of cash & gave him a lot of down time post willard to make more $ in hollywood & chase actresses...

however in fairness & in credit to dempsey by '23 he was frustrated w/ this relationship & severed their relation... he was well aware of how the rust was eroding his skills...

furthermore it was dempsey who pursued wills & thru promotor red fitzsimmons did go to the signing table w/ wills & sign for the fight... the $ given to dempsey though bounced & along w/ it the fight... this is all referenced in this link below along w/ documented photographical evidence of the event... i've heard some claim this as a publicity stunt... but it really seems hard to believe that wills would go along w/ such a farce... secondly, as mentioned earlier, dempsey was at a point in his career where he clearly wanted to call his own shots...

after this fell thru... he then went back thru the wealthy kingpen rickard to solidify a fight... this would materialize into the tunney fight...

as far as to why rickard wouldnt make the wills fight a reality at this point imo points more to race then popularity... i disagree w/ some here that a wills/dempsey fight wouldnt be popular... I think this couldve easily been sucessfully marketed & the controversy of race wouldve only added more curiousity and tickets sold.... additionally, wills was not a loose cannon like jack johnson... so I dont see him making provactive statements before the fight that would further stir racial flames...

if rickard had guts or some sense of moral vision he couldve made the fight a reality imo... that said, imo he simply played to his bottomline financial instincts... wh/ w/ that implies risk tolerance... for rickard risking putting the belt back on the waist of a black man (albeit a low key one) wasnt worth the baggage... was this further blostered behind the scenes by powerful local & natl political powers putting further pressure on rickard to not make this fight a reality? ... considering 1920's politics, it wouldnt surprise me...

bottomline, its a shame it never happened & certainly a injustice to wills... but to place that blame in the lap of dempsey, esp when weighing the documented evidence below... is also a further injustice... dempsey away from kearns did make his own effort to make this fight a reality... the financial backing fell thru... further the financial backing wh/ couldve made it a reality (rickard) didnt want it to to be... now if dempsey drew a hard line w/ rickard & demanded it, it certainly wouldve reflected a respected & proud stand.. but that also belies the way the business works, ignores the inner power levers in place wh/ could make it happen (political will).... and finally makes dempsey into more of a moral crusader then a boxer bound to process of maximizing profit & getting fights he can while he has the power to do so.... link below:

www.antekprizering.com/de...egram.html (http://www.antekprizering.com/dempseywillstelegram.html)

handtomouth
02-16-2006, 12:06 AM
re:


That's a bad comparison from what I've read as Firpo was allegedly very soft and had lost the desire to train when he fought Wills. He was not the same man who traded bombs with Dempsey just a year earlier.

below a good link to coverage & photos of that fight you allude to:

www.antekprizering.com/wi...ter05.html (http://www.antekprizering.com/willsfirponewsposter05.html)

HEGrant
02-16-2006, 12:13 AM
Roberto, it's amazing the statements you make without any research. Go to archive.com and look up Firpo/Wills. Every newspaper account gives Wills a completely dominate, one sided win. Firpo did not win one round. He took a solid, consistant beating through out. The Wills fight exposed him as the wild swinging amateur that he really was when he was not fighting a highly inactive 188 pound man that decides to slug with him. A quality boxer/puncher, in condition and active, exposed him for what he was. All this talk about Firpo unmotivated is crap. That man loved money more than any fighter that ever lived. There was no better way for him to make it than to become heavyweight champ. He came out of the Dempsey fight believing that if he had a bit more experience he would have won the title. After Wills it was clear to him he was not good enough and he lost it.

handtomouth
02-16-2006, 12:21 AM
re:


Using the Firpo bouts as barameters of Dempsey and Wills works against Dempsey. Dempsey engaged in a life and death slugfast in which he was knocked down multiple times and almost lost the fight. Wills dominated Firpo, winning every round.

HEGrant gotta disagree w/ that... dempsey was also dominating firpo... the shot that caught dempsey & shook him up bad was a fluke shot... dempsey's error was in not anticipating the possibility of the roundhouse shot as he stormed in on a hurt firpo who was unfolding himself off the canvas w/ his back to dempsey...

as firpo came off his knees he swung his torso and balled fist nearly 180 degrees foward & caught a rushing in for the kill dempsey square on the jaw... dempsey in credit to his chin, instincts and guts somehow not only survived the round in total cobwebs but even began to unleash more punishment himself... once the bell rang for the final rd, he had cleared his head enough & once again commenced to dominating & dispatching firpo...

this was the last moment of the dempsey prime & it could be argued he was in his prime... he bulked up and added 7 lbs of muscle for the fight, trained hard and came in at top tip shape... age wise he was at his absolute peak for his style of fighting... & he had been fighting enough to this point to bring allow focused training for this fight to prime his peak abilities..

considering his feet were still nimble, contrary to most peoples perception, it may have been '23 firpo when dempsey stood tallest as oppossed to '19 toledo willard.

HEGrant
02-16-2006, 12:31 AM
He was dominating Firpo as much as a man can who was dropped with the first punch of the fight, rocked several more and knocked through the ropes and very groggy, only making it in before the count of ten because he was illegially pushed back into the ring. Firpo should have won the bout by first round KO. Dempsey was very lucky the ref got carried away by the events and let it slide.

Firpo was a big, strong hard punching man who had great heart and a tremendous ability to take punishment. However, he was far from world class as a professional prize fighter goes. The fight proved the following about Dempsey. He was still an animal, he retained his exceptional heart and instincts, he could still punch like hell and take one as well...and that he had regressed tremendously as a prizefighter. The years of soft living and inactivity had clearly taken their toll. There is no way he succeeds the same against the Dempsey of Toledo

Roberto Aqui
02-16-2006, 12:37 AM
[[[[ Roberto, it's amazing the statements you make without any research.]]]]
=========================

Obviously I used the Boxrec website over several years to note the revisions in the records. It's more amazing that you can't read any better than you do to see that.

The link below states Wills dominated, but then said Wills did not to distinguish himself as a challenger to Dempsey.
We don't have the fight so we can only use the mixed accounts.

Regardless, Dempsey fought most of the top challengers available to him, unlike Larry Holmes who seems to have fought the biggest collection of 2nd and 3rd tier contenders in history, yet you crack on Jack. Have you no shame?

RowanSmith
02-16-2006, 12:46 AM
did you ever see films of wills-did you-the only reason he lasted as long as he did against sharkey was he was completely defensive- wills , battling j johson, and mcveys techiques were so defensive and primitive compared to dempsey- its a joke- if you have these films you would know- if you have them - then youre a fuckin blind man- who managed wills? kearns did- and kearns would have watered at the mouth for a dempsey boutand when dempsey tried to get the bout- the goddamm check bounces. langford had greatness but wide punches, alot of them, dempsey would kill people like that.do us all a favor and get some films of these chumps of yours-THAT IS WHY THE FIGHT WAS NEVER MADE- wils was a one punch at a time, defensive, slow boat and everybody knew it- especially dempsey and kearns. enough from here- the times were against it. bye from this thread.
Mike you have got to be kidding me--right? Possibly the most insulting and uninformed post ever--topping even your last post. Insulting me or anyone won't prove a point. How many films of McVey and Wills have you seen? A total of 2 for Wills and maybe one for McVey--against Bat Jim Johnson I am assuming because you threw him into the mix. I can't understand exactly what you are saying about Kearns so I will leave that be, but Dempsey himself didn't think he could be Langford--so I guess you have a better eye for judging talent than he did. FYI I have films of all the men you have mentioned and have watched them many times--oh and I am not blind.


There has been a few mentions of John Lester Johnson giving Dempsey a rough ride. Dempsey, at the time, was barely a 170lbs fighter sleeping in central park

Dempsey actually weighed 181 for the fight and John Lester 179.

handtomouth
02-16-2006, 01:05 AM
re:


He was dominating Firpo as much as a man can who was dropped with the first punch of the fight, rocked several more and knocked through the ropes and very groggy, only making it in before the count of ten because he was illegially pushed back into the ring.


HEGrant... the first knockdown by firpo was a good shot on his part... but dempsey recovered from that instantly... he then dominated him until the fluke shot I talked about earlier... dempsey was at fault in not anticipating the possibility of it... but it nevertheless doesnt take away from the fact that dempsey to that point was moving firpo around like a rag doll & would do so again the next round after he cleared his head to some degree.


The fight proved the following about Dempsey. He was still an animal, he retained his exceptional heart and instincts, he could still punch like hell and take one as well...and that he had regressed tremendously as a prizefighter. The years of soft living and inactivity had clearly taken their toll. There is no way he succeeds the same against the Dempsey of Toledo

again I dont see how you can deduce from the fight that he had regressed tremendously... imo it was quite to the contrary...

did firpo get lucky and hurt him? ... yes

but was dempsey pulvarizing him before the roundhouse & then again after in the next round? ... clearly yes

was dempsey as hungry or hardened at this point in comparison to toledo? ... in this respect I agree w/ you...

but to say he was inactive and soft & on a sustained downslide is wrong...

dempsey had already fought that year & had fought once or twice a year from toledo to '23... plus he was fighting a truckload of consistent exhibitions wh/ did keep him in decent physical form... inactivity wasnt his beef at this point w/ kearns... it was the lack of more prize fights w/ the belt on the line wh/ would galvanize his mind and body to top form...

firpo was just that fight... consider also it came after a lukewarm gibbons fight... dempsey wanted to show the huge gate & public he was still a vicious and great fighter... this burning ambiiton imo balanced out the raw hunger he had going for him in toledo...

he was far from a downslide going into firpo... he was in peak physical condition... at an absolute prime in age for a heavy fighting his style... he trained very hard for firpo even concentrating moreso then ever w/ strength training... look at the photos and films... its clear in the photos the added 7 lbs went to shoulder and back muscle... it was that type of conditioning & ambition wh/ allowed him to weather 3-4 huge shots from a very hard hitter as firpo...

quite to the contrary, I think the '23 firpo dempsey was more of a destructive, physically mature, seasoned & balanced fighter then the '19 willard... he had done enough exhibitions and fights thru '23 to offset his escapades in hollywood at this point... he was in death stare form for this one... it would be the long sustained rust after this fight that would decay the prime dempsey... firpo contrastly wasnt only the last nite of his prime, it may have been the peak of it.

HEGrant
02-16-2006, 02:04 AM
Roberto, you absolutely have zero logic to any of your points. First you say you are dubious as to the outcome of the bout. Someone lists one of the dozens of newspaper accounts of the bout, all of which say Wills dominated and basically beat on Firpo over the entire bout but you still refuse to admit you were wrong about it. Then you bring a ridiculous and irrevelant comment about Larry Holmes into the mix and end with if I have no shame. Do you have any point to make other than unsubstanciated jibberish ? It's really silly.

H to M: Coming into the Firpo fight Dempsey fought once in the previous 26 months. That was two months prior against Gibbons. That is not an active schedule. How you can claim a highly inactive Dempsey of 1923 was beter than the younger, hungrier, far more active version that crushed Willard is a mystery to me.

Think about it. He was in a life and death struggle where he was almost knocked out against Firpo, not one of the top fifty heavyweights of all time by any stretch. I respect your right to your opinion but I really disagree with you there.

handtomouth
02-16-2006, 03:28 AM
re:


H to M: Coming into the Firpo fight Dempsey fought once in the previous 26 months. That was two months prior against Gibbons. That is not an active schedule. How you can claim a highly inactive Dempsey of 1923 was beter than the younger, hungrier, far more active version that crushed Willard is a mystery to me. Think about it. He was in a life and death struggle where he was almost knocked out against Firpo, not one of the top fifty heavyweights of all time by any stretch. I respect your right to your opinion but I really disagree with you there.

HEGrant... I dont deny that he took off too long from fights w/ the belt on the line that galvanize one to peak form... 1922 was a complete writeoff in this regards... & again is a chief reason why dempsey was growing in anger w/ kearns...

but lets look at the other facts:

he did fight 20 exhibitions thru '22 until gibbons... thus he was obviously training consistently... albeit in a less intense fashion... the point is... he was staying in shape.

secondly, he was still very young & his body could quickly be brought back to diamond form for a fight for the belt.... predicated that your staying in shape... as he was.

third, imo the hollywood thing is blown up to some degree... he was working decent stretched hrs doing shorts... not sitting around a pool... plus w/ his downtime though dempsey was known to do some partying.... when has it ever been reported that he was a raging drunk or a coke addict.... point being, sure he was having fun... but also wasnt pulling a john belushi or jim morrison in his hollywood '20's stretch...

fourth, though he didnt score a ko... he was impressive in the gibbons fight in re to displaying stick and move skills & the ability to outpace a small quick fighter over 15rds... he then carried this training right into preperation for firpo... if dempsey was the rusted burnt out relic that some claim hollywood was making him... how could he have pulled that off?

lastly, your missing my point w/ firpo... if you take away firpo's first legit knockdown (wh/ dempsey quickly got up from) & his other lucky landing fluke roundhouse (wh/ was a very hard punch) wh/ allowed him to push punch a groggy dempsey out of the ring... where did firpo outclass dempsey... before and after that... dempsey mop firpo's head across the canvas time and time again... the facts are he trained very hard for this fight to erase any gibbons doubts.... still had fast hands and nimble feet... was probaly stronger then ever adding more muscle bulk... & was in his seasoned prime... I see no reason to think he wasnt at as formidable a level as he was in toledo.... does prime age, experience and added power not count in comparison?

Roberto Aqui
02-16-2006, 10:29 AM
[[[[[[Roberto, you absolutely have zero logic to any of your points. First you say you are dubious as to the outcome of the bout. Someone lists one of the dozens of newspaper accounts of the bout, all of which say Wills dominated and basically beat on Firpo over the entire bout but you still refuse to admit you were wrong about it. ]]]]]]]]
========================

You haven't read ALL the newspaper accounts of the bout. I would never be so outrageous.

I only read a couple accounts which indicate the reporters thought the bout boring in what was supposed to be a highly anticipated show of fireworks. Obviously Boxrec got some sources to list it as a draw and then NC before listing as a newspaper win for Wills.

The major point being that Wills had a signed contract with Dempsey and needed a good performance to drum up financing of what was obviously an extremely difficult and expensive fight to make that had already fallen out once. For whatever reason, the financing could never be secured, and you blame Dempsey in yet even more outrage. Have you no shame?

It's a damn shame Wills never got his chance, but he was given a glimmer of hope which is much better than Johnson or Willard ever gave the 4 black HOFers.

HEGrant
02-16-2006, 11:06 AM
H to M: I did not say Firpo outclassed Dempsey. I said that he engaged him in a life and death brawl. I don't see the round ending near KO as lucky. Dempsey was swinging wildly, stalking his prey and Firpo launched an overhand right that blasted him flush. It was not the only punch he landed in the bout as he had already floored Dempsey before.

Dempsey himself said if he did not fight two months before against Gibbons to burn off some of the rust he would have lost the fight. I agree he did look good against Gibbons, winning clean and strong over 15. However, while a hell of a fighter, Gibbons was past thirty and a light heavyweight.

As far as exhibitions go, it is well documented by trainers and fighters than exhibitions and sparring sessions are not substitutes for actual ring activity. Dempsey was still relatively young at 28 but he was a highly inactive fighter and this inactivity already took it's toll and would prove disasterous against Tunney three years later.

mike21
02-16-2006, 01:36 PM
whats dumbset of all is dempsey ducking mr wills- htm- the million dollar gate by kearns in 64- first off kearns wanted this bout so bad he could taste it - "dempsey would have had two of wills before breakfast"> how would kearns know- he manged wills in 14- didnt any of you guys know this? and dumped wills when wills coulndt finisf off lanford and got koed- he sold the contract to buckly. aftre the carpentier bout, kearns went to rickard who told him that the governor of new york and others were not going to let it happen- kearns said to hell with those bastrds- and went to floyod fitzsimmons- he said to fitz -get any damn spot you can- but he too ran into political problems. later dempsey tried fitz again, but the check bounced. kearns said it was laughable to suggest wills could have beaten dempsey- but deplorable it never happened because he was black.

cyberboxingzone
02-16-2006, 01:37 PM
Hey guys, this is the CBZ so for the Dempsey-Lester Johnson fight I think we need to list the NYC papers of the day, who the reproter was, and what the newspaper decision was?

Jack Kincaid went through all of those papers, and his list is now stated to be a draw -- I don't think Jack feels it was a draw, from his reading of the papers Dempsey lost. I will see if he has the reports so we dont reinvent the wheel.

But, if I recall, one of the only guys who said it was a draw was Damon Runyon, who had a prediliction, if not vested interest in Dempsey.

New York World
New York Times
New York Herald

I will complile the results. Preferably, email a pdf or jpg to me at mike@cyberboxingzone.

HEGrant
02-16-2006, 05:08 PM
What's dumb is saying Langford was a novice. Maybe I misread what you wrote. If I did I'm wrong. If that's what you wrote, you're wrong.

PeteLeo
02-16-2006, 05:30 PM
Who said that?

The films show that Sam was basically a stalk and slug type without any obvious defensive slickness (obvious being the key word -- even with natural toughness, a man of his size could never have survived so many confrontations with relative giants without some learned defensive abilities), but he was a hell of a stalking slugger. Hardly an amateur in any sense of that word. PeteLeo.

mike21
02-16-2006, 05:36 PM
in reference to langford, i was being provacative- but not about mcvey or jim johson- willard was robinson compared to them

mike21
02-16-2006, 05:46 PM
wills was no great technician either- but as dempsey said in 25""hes not so bad but hes got a glass chin and cant sock very hard. hes better than the rest of them though'."

Kid Achilles
02-16-2006, 06:00 PM
I am interested in the part where Dempsey says Godfrey couldn't hit. Godfrey had something like 81 knockouts as a heavyweight. From what I know, isn't that the record for a man fighting exlusively heavyweights (Moore had many more but a lot of those knockouts were south of the division)? I've been under the impression that Godfrey had a tremendous reputation as a puncher.

I am not denying that Jack really said that in an interview, but I have a hard time believing the accuracy of Dempsey's comments. As for being yellow, hell George was probably fighting to survive in his sessions with Dempsey and trying to avoid serious injury from a fighter who never held back even in sparring. Dempsey routinely injured and knocked out sparring partners.

I can see a situation where Godfrey was just trying to be polite (and not get fired) in his sessions with Dempsey and fought defensively (which Dempsey might have perceived as cowardly as Godfrey ran from him on a consistent basis) to protect himself from injury while keeping his job and getting in some sparring experience. I doubt Godfrey was cracking Dempsey with the best he could muster.

I've also heard the two were friends. Anyone know anything about that?

handtomouth
02-16-2006, 06:01 PM
re:


first off kearns wanted this bout so bad he could taste it - "dempsey would have had two of wills before breakfast"> how would kearns know- he manged wills in 14- didnt any of you guys know this? and dumped wills when wills coulndt finisf off lanford and got koed- he sold the contract to buckly.

mike.. thanks for the info... I didnt know that about wills... kearns got around in that era... I was under the assumption that kearns shielded dempsey from wills due to not wanting to take the risk... again, can you recommend any books or links on kearns in re to interviews?


aftre the carpentier bout, kearns went to rickard who told him that the governor of new york and others were not going to let it happen- kearns said to hell with those bastrds- and went to floyod fitzsimmons- he said to fitz -get any damn spot you can- but he too ran into political problems. later dempsey tried fitz again, but the check bounced. kearns said it was laughable to suggest wills could have beaten dempsey- but deplorable it never happened because he was black.

interesting info in re to the politicial machinary & racial caste system of the time... its encouraging if your a dempsey or kearns fan to see how vigilant & confident kearns was in getting dempsey a fight w/ wills... none of this was mentioned in the kahn or roberts book on dempsey... it certainly implies both were very confident in taking out wills.... I wonder how much rickard really tried to greenlight this...

it either shows rickard was indifferent at best or racist at worse -or- that his power was more limited and trumped by a govt wh/ seemed behind the scenes to have much more central control over the sport then they do today.... if its the latter, it makes you think that the josh gibson's of the world were denied access to baseball moreso for higher level political reasons then even the sport itself...

either way, its indeed a shame for wills, dempsey's legacy & boxing fans then & now... as I stated yesterday, I think the fan support wouldve been very strong for this bout... wills/firpo attracted 70K to the fight... thats big coin.

mike21
02-16-2006, 07:38 PM
in the same interview conducted in 1925-dempsey was asked about the firpo fight "except for one lucky punch, or more like a push, there woudnt have been anything to it ,at all. he just aint there." on godfrey -jack said tersely "hes yellow and cant sock." dempsey was usuing alot of hobo slang words also- but the interviewer jim tully had also been a fighter and a hobo.

HEGrant
02-16-2006, 08:06 PM
The films that exist on Langford show a few rounds of a few fights out of a twenty two year career with over 250 recorded bouts and maybe another 100 not recorded. Through out that career Langford defeated the best fighters in the world from lightweight to heavyweight that had the guts to fight him. No one survives that long and succeeds that great against that level of competition unless you have a hell of a lot more to your game than a heart and a punch.

Langford was exceptionally talented. He was far more than a puncher although he may be the best pound for pound hitter that ever lived.

I'd like to know more about that Dempsey interview. I've never read it. How can we see a copy ?

I'd like to know why he refered to Wills as having a glass chin since the only guy flattening him was the same guy Dempsey refused to fight, once again Mr. Langford.

Mr E
02-16-2006, 09:02 PM
Damon Runyon had Dempsey on top against JLJ. In that 1930s-era interview w/ JLJ that somebody posted here before the boards crashed (when JLJ was working as an extra in Hollywood), he conceded that Dempsey had gotten the better of him.

That said, I am VERY skeptical of boxrec's decision to assign wins and losses to so many ND bouts. For one thing, newspaper men are often biased and often know little about the sport. How many times have we heard that newspaper decisions often went to the guy whose manager called 1st? How many local papers promote the hometown boy? Now, 80 years later, somebody finds those articles and decides to declare a winner? For example, Billy Miske's record in declared fights is like 50-2, one of those losses being a highly disputed verdict to the great Kid Norfolk and another being the title loss to Dempsey. He had about another 40 or 50 unrecorded fights and boxrec has him losing about a third of them. Doesn't that seem a bit odd to anybody but me??? Look at Harry Greb. Boxrec seems to have access all Pittsburgh papers, and all of them have Greb winning every fight (what a shock). I know Greb was among the greatest of the great, but come on.

But I digress. I think it's very hard to evaluate Wills. He presided over the demise of the Amazing Three -- Sam Langford, Joe Jeannette and Sam McVey -- that's true. By and large, they beat him when they were in their primes and he was a novice and he beat them when they were past their primes and he was IN his. That was more impressive to me until I saw, and was utterly unimpressed by, Langford's performances against Flynn and Lang and read the oft-derisive reviews of McVey's performance against Battling Jim Johnson. Evidently, McVey's spectacular crudeness is a thing to behold.

Surely Wills was the top contender throughout Dempsey's reign-- or at least up until he got 'beaten' by Bartley Madden. The combination of the Madden fight and Wills's refusal to fight Tunney probably made Tunney the top guy. [Wills wouldn't fight Gibbons or Godfrey either, recall.]

I've got some clippings in scrapbook my grandfather put together in the 1940s that include some 20s-era newspaper references to the Wills-Firpo bout. The tenor of those accounts was that it was a dreadful and close fight, that both men looked bad, that Firpo didn't train, and that Wills probably had the better of it. Based on that, don't you have to wonder whether a motivated and in-shape Firpo (i.e., the Firpo who fought Dempsey) wouldn't have put Wills into the cheap seats? Surely, the question, at least, is legitimate.

But Hell yes he deserved a shot at the title. I personally think he would have been crushed by Dempsey and hopelessly outclassed by Tunney (I also suspect he would have lost to Gibbons), but it is really too bad he didn't have the chance to prove me wrong.

handtomouth
02-16-2006, 10:11 PM
re:

I don't see the round ending near KO as lucky. Dempsey was swinging wildly, stalking his prey and Firpo launched an overhand right that blasted him flush. It was not the only punch he landed in the bout as he had already floored Dempsey before.

HEGrant... good debate by all on this thread, its fleshing out some good info on this great era... not to belabour the particulars but I think your mischaracterizing the roundhouse shot... I agree the first knockdown was a clean shot by firpo... but the flush shot wh/ stunned and set up dempsey going thru the ropes was indeed a lucky shot... I just watched it again on film... watch it closely... firpo w/ his head & body turned away as he slowly got up... then sprang, rotated and roundhouse a flush shot to the jaw as dempsey was rushing in for the kill w/ his head leaning foward... it was a ballsy hail mary that worked... credit to firpo for trying it & landing it... but in no way was this a high % shot.

Dempsey himself said if he did not fight two months before against Gibbons to burn off some of the rust he would have lost the fight. I agree he did look good against Gibbons, winning clean and strong over 15. However, while a hell of a fighter, Gibbons was past thirty and a light heavyweight.
agree w/ you... smaller crafty fighters always seemed to be dempsey's toughest fights... but 1 thing dempsey certainly showed vrs gibbons.. is he was more then a one trick pony... he was able to keep up consistent hand & foot speed advantages for 15rds.

As far as exhibitions go, it is well documented by trainers and fighters than exhibitions and sparring sessions are not substitutes for actual ring activity. Dempsey was still relatively young at 28 but he was a highly inactive fighter and this inactivity already took it's toll and would prove disasterous against Tunney three years later.
Perhaps I didnt make my point clear enough in re to exhibitions... I agree they arent substitutions & they can never put you in peak form.. but I differ w/ you in re to calling him a highly inactive fighter...

sure he was a highly inactive title bout fighter in 1922... but he wasnt an inactive fighter... 20 exhibitions are just that... 20 times in front of crowds while you still hold the belt... in other words dempsey was staying in shape...

w/ that many exhibitions, he wasnt just going to walk into the ring out of shape and risk injury... what it shows me was he was staying in shape & keeping his skills sharp enough so that to not let them erode... esp at the perfect age of 27 & w/ his vast time in the ring not that far before then... he was able to use this method w/o losing the ability to sharpen it back to form when the title was on line in '23...

I'm sure he was frustrated w/ not having a contention fight in '22 but at this point he probaly felt kearns would change this pattern...

after firpo thru tunney 1 this type of horse and pony training drained him much more profusely... it was then when he signed the 2 yr hollywood contract, met his wife, sailed to europe, saw his fame get greater & grew in frustration even more w/ kearns delaying title fights even longer... it was that post firpo era that decayed dempsey... not 1922...

again, I contend how does he go toe to toe in a fast paced fight vrs gibbons -or- endure several big punches & flatten a huge brawler like firpo if he wasnt in shape & sharp.

HEGrant
02-16-2006, 11:48 PM
H to M: I can't really dispute your points. They are logical and possible.

SigniferSanctusMichael
02-16-2006, 11:55 PM
Can anyone give us a detailed description of this fight? I know Willard was completely washed up at this point, but it might still shed some light on both men and Dempsey. Was it filmed, and - if so - has anyone here seen it?

RowanSmith
02-17-2006, 05:45 AM
first off kearns wanted this bout so bad he could taste it - "dempsey would have had two of wills before breakfast"> how would kearns know- he manged wills in 14- didnt any of you guys know this? and dumped wills when wills coulndt finisf off lanford and got koed- he sold the contract to buckly

Mike where are you getting this information from? Kearns never managed Wills. In 1914 John Lala was Wills manager. He even entered the ring with him for his fight with Langford in 1914 that you are referring to.


Damon Runyon had Dempsey on top against JLJ. In that 1930s-era interview w/ JLJ that somebody posted here before the boards crashed (when JLJ was working as an extra in Hollywood), he conceded that Dempsey had gotten the better of him

E. Any idea where that interview came from? I would like to get a copy. In a 1960's interview with Dempsey he admitted that John Lester had gotten the best of him, that he was "overmatched". I have read a great deal from Dempsey and never once have I seen him try and claim any kind of victory in that bout.


Billy Miske's record in declared fights is like 50-2, one of those losses being a highly disputed verdict to the great Kid Norfolk and another being the title loss to Dempsey.

Not picking on you E but where did you read this. There was nothing disputed about Norfolk's win over Miske--actually in either bout. His 1917 decision win over Miske in Boston was clear cut. I agree about the no decision thing however. It is ludicrious sometimes trying to figure it out. Look at the Langford Ketchel bout as an example. Thed danger comes from folks taking one source as fact and just putting it into boxrec. All of the sudden that no decision becomes a win for a fighter, when that just may not have been the case. Good points!


That was more impressive to me until I saw, and was utterly unimpressed by, Langford's performances against Flynn and Lang and read the oft-derisive reviews of McVey's performance against Battling Jim Johnson. Evidently, McVey's spectacular crudeness is a thing to behold.

Its a wonder that these fellows managed to win any fights by the way they are being written about on this board. You see ten minutes of one guy fighting(both he dominated by the way) and here someone else speak poorly of another and all of the sudden, Wills matches with them hold little value?


Surely Wills was the top contender throughout Dempsey's reign-- or at least up until he got 'beaten' by Bartley Madden.
I am not sure what you are inferring here. Wills licked Madden as easy as a postage stamp--he was criticized for not putting Madden away but he certainly was not "beaten" in any way. And it was not a tough fight for him in anyway. Same thing with Firpo. Wills won twelve of twelve rounds from Firpo but was criticized because he did not knock him out.


The combination of the Madden fight and Wills's refusal to fight Tunney probably made Tunney the top guy.
In my opinion it was the combination of Wills being black, Tunney being white, handsome, a war veteran, and a marketable, winning fighter.


I've got some clippings in scrapbook my grandfather put together in the 1940s that include some 20s-era newspaper references to the Wills-Firpo bout. The tenor of those accounts was that it was a dreadful and close fight, that both men looked bad, that Firpo didn't train, and that Wills probably had the better of it. Based on that, don't you have to wonder whether a motivated and in-shape Firpo (i.e., the Firpo who fought Dempsey) wouldn't have put Wills into the cheap seats? Surely, the question, at least, is legitimate.

I have clippings of that fight from several newspapers, including the New York Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and several others and not one stated that the fight was close. Firpo was trained down well enough, he simply could not land on Wills--he was just too crude. The fight was a disappointment because it was not competitive and people(after Dempsey Firpo) probably expected fireworks. Wills boxed beautifully however and Firpo could do nothing with him--just couldn't land.


But Hell yes he deserved a shot at the title. I personally think he would have been crushed by Dempsey and hopelessly outclassed by Tunney (I also suspect he would have lost to Gibbons), but it is really too bad he didn't have the chance to prove me wrong.
What in Tunney's heavyweight resume leads you to believe that he could hopelessly outclass Harry Wills? Gibbons--oh come on now, are you serious?


I guess since I didn't ask for specifics, my bad.

I'll ask now what your opinion is based upon?

That is, formally: What makes you believe that had Dempsey wanted to fight Wills that a fight between them would have happened?

Just looking for the information to build an opinion on.
Sharkey, It is my opinion that Jack Dempsey was the commodity--not Doc Kearns and not Tex Rickard. I think that if Jack truly wanted the fight, truly wanted to put this Wills thing behind him and prove that he was THE best, and totally clear out the division--he would have stated that he wanted the fight to those two and that it then would have been made. I don't soley blame Jack. There were some forces at work here that were beyond his control--but those forces did not completely preclude the Wills fight from happening. I mean look at Tommy Burns and Jack Johnson--that was 1908--we are talking ten, twelve to 15 years later. That fight happened--when most of the public was against it--and Burns made lots of money defending against him. I put to you that if Burns did not want to fight Jack Johnson, for whatever reason, then he never would have. But he did and it did. I will use Jack Johnson again as an example. After winning the title, he did not want to again fight Sam langford, plain and simple. There was easier, white, game to be had and Jack knew it. he made up excuses, ("the public doesn't want to see two black men fight for the title) and so on and so forth, but offers of $50, 000 and up were pouring in from every direction for that fight. Obviously, several promoters and clubs felt that the fight would sell just fine. In the end though, Jack didn't want the fight--and guess what--it never happened. I think the same of Dempsey--if he wanted the fight--it would have happened. He didn't really want the fight--and it never happened. Just my thoughts on the matter--but they do have some thought behind them.

Lastly, I see everyone quoting Dempsey on what he thought he would do to Harry Wills---"glass jaw", "can't punch", etc.. Do guys think for minute that Harry Wills didn't think he could beat Jack Dempsey? What Dempsey says about Wills, in relation to fighting ability or forcasting a fight between the two of them, has about as much weight as one of us stating the same things--very little to none. Glass Jaw? Where the hell did that come from?

PeteLeo
02-17-2006, 06:30 AM
Willard-Firpo was filmed and still exists. I have a few seconds (about twenty or thirty) from it depicting the knockout. I found this in a short collection of oldtime fight clips that also included the crude Uzcudun's frightening KO of Wills. Man, he almost tears Harry's head off. There were some amateur films of Sugar Ray Robinson in that bunch, too. It's amazing to me that there're no existing SRR pro fights below middleweight, but we do have him as an amateur. PeteLeo.

Roberto Aqui
02-17-2006, 07:02 AM
I would imagine Dempsey's glass jaw comments came out of frustrations of having Wills brought to his attention so many times. I would also imagine there was a bit of "cross pollination" between Jack's cadre of black sparring partners and the Wills camp and each fighter had a pretty good picture of the other.

Wills would have been a dangerous fight, no doubt, so it's just silly to dismiss him by saying Dempsey would win anyway. That's the attitude Roy's fans developed to excuse him not making good matches later in his career.

IMO, Jack did about as much if not more than any fighter should to make the Wills match. Obviously they signed to meet so he didn't just travel across the country up for nothing. Let's remember it was often difficult, indeed sometimes illegal to make many of the nontitle matches in that NC era, much less a high profile title match with nationwide riot potential.

At any rate, the falling out of that fight seems to be the straw that broke Jack's back. He was obviously fed up with the fight game with Rickard and Kearns and under the influence of his actress wife, was led "by the nose" to Hollywood where she could be properly displayed. Who amongst us wouldn't have done the same thing under those circumstances? It made Dempsey a wealthy man.

RE: the JLester Johnson bout. If newspaper accounts are to believed, and I believe they are mixed in this case indicating a close fight, it seems doubtful Jack could have weighed 180lbs, being described as skinny and needing a few good meals in him. He was after all, very young and reportedly standing in line in soup kitchens and sleeping in Central Park in this phase. There seems to be little doubt that Lester broke at least one rib. The story I hear is that Dempsey rode the rails out of town with a broken rib and empty pockets trying to shake that sleazy conman manager who grabbed hold of Dempsey as soon as he showed up in town.

I had not heard that Jack Johnson was offered as much as 50 grand for Langford, that seems excessive, but it does seem when he was in France and needed money he took lesser paying bouts against Moran and Battling Johnson. I seem to recall an English matchmaker offering him 5-10 grand for Langford.

I also seem to recall GWard claiming Wills almost got a crack at Johnson in this French phase, but my guess is that the amounts being offered Johnson were not enough to tempt him against such dangerous fare as Langford and Wills.

Had Johnson fought a legit black contender in the States like the above, the boxing public would have loved it and I think made the stage more amenable to a black/white heavy title fight in the future. Wills was full into his prime during the Willard era, and imagine that fight. It would've been a good one.

Regardless, keep em coming guys. I never tire of these two eras and have learned much on CBZ not to mention had my eyes opened to different ways we see these fighters which is instructive.

Sharkey
02-17-2006, 10:53 AM
I get your thinking. I think it still has to be classified as more along the lines of wanting to believe it to be true rather than supported by any evidence..and in fact, according to what you wrote, places superfluous 'blame' on Dempsey out of convenience.

It is enough that they didn't fight. The real meat is what we know and what we can take from it.

I hate the cyber-world becuase what I may write will read as if I am attacking you, when really, I'd ask you to imagine we are speaking over some beers.

Bringing up Burns and Johnson, in fact, strikes to the core of your hypothesis and does it a great deal of damage as to make case for Dempsey's personal fear/unwillingness/general power to MAKE the fight happen.

I base the above statement on the solid stance of Rickard.. which was at least partially BASED on the Johnson-Burns fight, fiasco and general disaster as it was viewed as by not just caucasians, but also...given Johnson's outlandish behavior (not solely considered such solely on his skin color btw) many of those people (when not being racists also were blind that boxing was a cricus anyway) to the general need for boxing to be as noble as possible.

Rickard could in one swoop protect the title, insulate himself from being the man that twice allowed for the destruction of the status quo, and generally market the meal ticket free from controversy.

As much as you cannot state Dempsey wanted greatly to face Wills, we cannot state he didn't.

In the same way we cannot state Dempsey didn't try to make the fight, we cannot say he said he would retire if Wills were not brought before him.

We also can't state if Dempsey saying anything mattered to Rickard or anyone else.

And I know that we cannot ask fighters to crusade for other fighters as a portion of their requirement of being a good man or so as to not be a weasel.

I will offer that if we want a separate discussion of the moral standing of fighters throughout history, that is one subject that requires it's own thread...and the measurement of that standing should take in every factor that doesn't include in-ring exploits...including a view of the particular climate etc of the time, the morals of those others involved on the scene and etc.

Somewhat unusually, there was some portion of the 'public' in public opinion that was half-hoping/believing Burns meeting Johnson might turn out ok...and I am sure while many thought it would be bad, and worse if Johnson won as a majority believed he would, the implication was sort of half-knows. Of course, those in favor of the never ending superiority of the white-race half-believed or were willingly self-deluded that their notion of an inferior race melting under the lights of pressure. It was embarrassing to have Johnson chase Burns. .....And further Johnson HAD TO CHASE Burns. Jack Johnson forced the question to be asked "Why is Burns running". I don't believe Wills exerted the same imaginative picture to the public...a public that had been down the road before..and had in Dempsey, a much more breathtaking champion.

We all know what happened to Burns...

Because of the outcome, and the aftermath of the crowing Johnson, there was not going to be a racially charged heavyweight title fight sez me; particularly involving a solid-commodity like Dempsey who while not wildly popular was wildly wild and colorful in the ring. I base this on the promoter's utterances..the climate, boxing's tight-rope walk to remain viable.. tangible things.

A caused B. The analogy between Dempsey and Burns is not supported by anything.. but rather purely result-oriented. Both were white. Both could have fought a black challenger. Was Burns more brave than Dempsey? A better guy? Or a worse guy? Was Tommy a more forceful moral man? Burns self-managed? Less encumbered by managers/promoters? Did these two men exist in a vacuum?

George H W Bush ran a bad campaign for re-election and lost. Unless he says so, I don't think a theory that he didn't want to win is anything but without some proof...and it isn't to be found in comparisons of Bush and Calvin Coolidge who decided not to even seek a second full term...and who stated as much.

In short, not that your view needs my validation of course, I reject that Dempsey "could have made the fight if he wanted to" as pure speculation and conjecture.

We have all seen throughout history a point where it is not entirely satisfying to let the facts speak for themselves, and where in uncertainty, speculation is advanced as formidable arrows in the quiver of historians and others shooting at the target of truth, and calling their own bulls-eyes.

The bottom-line is that even if your hypothesis was true, it not only can't be verified, it can't even be supported as a postulation.

The guess you call a belief strikes at Dempsey's thoughts and motivations which you admit you do not know or even really sort-of-know; which clouds what we DO know.

Sharkey
02-17-2006, 01:04 PM
Having so few opinions of my own to reveal when I cannot really prove them requires me to be jealous of those that do have some.

I always say if I converse on a boxing board at length, I am interested. When I say it, no one can hear me of course since I am in fact not physically near the people I am saying this to and the computer doesn't transmit my actual voice across cyberspace. (the TV can hear me however)

As for conversing with you, you should be disappointed in all this time I have proven to be able to learn so little from someone that knows more than I ever will about the sport. It's about my points dammit! No matter how narrow and tedious they are.

I have to give people more leeway, I say that all the time too...but I ask questions because I always think I can learn something.

I have here for sure...


Now, if someone can get me to stop typing posts that try to cover every angle I'd be obliged.

Anyone hear that?

hawk5ins
02-17-2006, 01:05 PM
Becaquse it kills me that I can't cut n paste my position on this that i wrote a while back.

I am jealous that you can re-write you exact thoughts agian, with the same succint and fluent points that are as convincing now as they were back then.

If I tried that, I know I'd end up contradicting half of what I originally wrote!

BTW, my position on this is as follows:

I think Jack was an all Time great who IMO would have defeated Wills in a highly competitive bout. That said, I don't think he made the greatest of efforts to get the match made.

I think Wills was very deserving of the #1 Contender status of the time and it was very unjust that he never recieved a title shot. I personally Beleive, Jack could have done more to make the fight happen and don't beleive he was a completely helpless puppet of Kearns.

Those are however, just my beleifs and there isn't a whole lot I can do or say that makes those beleifs gospel.

Mr E
02-17-2006, 01:34 PM
E. Any idea where that interview came from? I would like to get a copy. In a 1960's interview with Dempsey he admitted that John Lester had gotten the best of him, that he was "overmatched". I have read a great deal from Dempsey and never once have I seen him try and claim any kind of victory in that bout.

I wish I could remember what the context of that article was, but I can't. Somebody posted the link on these boards once upon a time, of that I'm sure, so maybe that person will post it again? I do recall it was a Hollywood rag, rather than a story from the sports pages. JLJ seemed like a bright guy-- much more articulate than your average pug. I got the impression that he liked Dempsey personally and was being gracious. Probably both he and Dempsey expressed a little false modesty in retelling the tale, eh?



Not picking on you E but where did you read this. There was nothing disputed about Norfolk's win over Miske--actually in either bout. His 1917 decision win over Miske in Boston was clear cut.

My info. on that is definitely 3rd hand. I was corresponding w/ one of the IBRO guys and asked if he'd read anything about the Miske-Norfolk fights. He wrote back that he hadn't looked at those in a long time but thought recalled reading a newspaper account that said Miske definitely deserved the nod that was given to Norfolk in the first fight, that in the second one (the ND fight) Norfolk had won every round, and, interestingly, that he'd seen evidence that there might have been a 3rd fight that is as yet unrecorded. I never followed up or gave it much thought after that. I don't want to give you his name because the gentleman in question doesn't like being dragged into message board disputes, but I'm going to follow up privately now that I know there is a question about that.



I agree about the no decision thing however. It is ludicrious sometimes trying to figure it out. Look at the Langford Ketchel bout as an example. Thed danger comes from folks taking one source as fact and just putting it into boxrec. All of the sudden that no decision becomes a win for a fighter, when that just may not have been the case. Good points!

Right-- Langford-Ketchel is the ultimate NO DECISION. I've read several accounts of that fight and I still have no idea what happened. Spot on.

hawk5ins
02-17-2006, 02:18 PM
To a conversation Mr. Sharks and I had a couple of years ago.

Oh the days!

Hawk

Sharkey
02-17-2006, 03:24 PM
And Rowan's assessment of Tunney vis a vis Wills as the top contender so to speak seems right on the money.

A true white force, inevitably he would have been considered the better option.

When helping fold clothes doesn't seem attractive, you can find me instead volunteering to mow the lawn... a much more satisfying option and in-line with my notions of the sort of work acceptable to my ego.

Advocating the Marine with a sterling record..who, like all but 2 challengers in history is also white fits the likely much more than advocating the unliklihood of a title shot for the black veteran fighter.

HEGrant
02-17-2006, 07:44 PM
No Dempsey apologist has as of yet answered my question:

Name another all time great champion that ducked his top contender for his entire career reign.

The answer is you cannot. Dempsey stands alone in this sad example and it hurts his legend in a major way.

There is no denying the Wills fought and defeated muchbetter opposition than Dempsey, even though many of them were slighly past their best days. They were still too much for Keanrs to let them near Dempsey.

I , believe it or not, am a huge fan of Dempsey. I just feel most of his post Willard skills disappated. He never became the fighter he was capable of becoming...in addition, much of his legend is more hype than fact based.

cyberboxingzone
02-17-2006, 08:44 PM
Perhaps the only other fighter to duck his main contender was Roy Jones neer coming to terms with the German Tiger!

Yo, researchers! Where are the Dempsey-Johnson articles from 1915! My stuff is in storage!

mike21
02-17-2006, 08:59 PM
the interview with jim tully is on micofilm - the literary digerst i belive sept of 25- i dont have it with me- the miiondolar gate by kearns - he manged wills in califirnia in 1914- he may not have beem at all his fights as he had others in his stable- also the boxing hall of fame enclycopedia.

mike21
02-17-2006, 09:12 PM
HE- i dont have a computer- i use a library- i woulndt know how to do it - im far from computer saavy- its on micorfilm its a very interestin interview- dempsey was still very, very rough edged- no wonder taylor, who loved him aloy, according to gallico, was often terrified of him- VERY ,VERY, rough edged- read the interview, youll see what i mean.

mike21
02-17-2006, 09:49 PM
SHARKEY- good post! mr. e - i agree with you on langford and prevouis posts you made of him. and yes mcvey was crude beyond belief. thats it for me here- mr. e try to get the literary digest interview in 25 on microfilm - i think in sept -but definatly 25. thanks. see you after the holiday.

mike21
02-17-2006, 10:18 PM
when dempsey speaks of other fighters, i think just maybe, he compares them to his own toughness, punch, balls, and fieceness. he knew he was unusally very blessed in such and knew that his visousness, toughness, and cruelty were far and away beyond the normal prizefighter. just a guess on some of his comments related before.

Mr E
02-17-2006, 11:09 PM
Depends on what you mean by "ducked" HEGrant, but many have at least argued the following:

John L. Sullivan & Jim Corbett ducked Peter Jackson;

Jim Jeffries ducked Jack Johnson;

Jack Johnson ducked Sam Langford, Joe Jeannette & Sam McVey;

Jess Willard ducked Sam Langford, Joe Jeannette & Sam McVey;

Gene Tunney ducked Jack Sharkey & George Godfrey;

Max Schmeling, Jack Sharkey & Primo Carnera ducked George Godfrey & Larry Gains;

Joe Louis ducked Lee Q. Murray, Turkey Thompson, Clarence Henry & Joe Baksi;

Rocky Marciano ducked Bob Baker & Nino Valdes;

Floyd Patterson ducked Zora Folley, Eddie Machen & Cleveland Wiliams;

George Foreman ducked Jerry Quarry;

Larry Holmes ducked Pinklon Thomas, Greg Page & Michael Dokes; and

Riddick Bowe ducked Lennox Lewis.


IMO, the only guy who is totally, completely and absolutely immune from being accused of having ducked anyone is Muhammad Ali.

[Please note that I am not saying I believe all these champs ducked all these fighters-- just noting that I've seen the arguments made.]

Mr E
02-17-2006, 11:22 PM
Didn't see this part before, Mr. Smith:


What in Tunney's heavyweight resume leads you to believe that he could hopelessly outclass Harry Wills? Gibbons--oh come on now, are you serious?

Heh. Yeah, I am serious. I go back and forth on this because there's so little film to go by, but I wonder whether Wills wasn't part of an older generation of guys that the Dempseys, Tunneys, Sharkeys, etc., replaced. More in the league of a Willard than a Dempsey.

I understand it's all speculation, but Dempsey and Tunney look like modern fighters to me on film. Langford doesn't. And, by implication, I speculate (and I freely admit it's speculation) that the guys with whom Langford was competitive, such as Wills, were not either. Yes, we only have Langford in a few fights but I just cannot imagine the figure I see on those old films giving Dempsey or Tunney a run for their money. Just can't see it. Wills either.

For better or worse, I strongly suspect that the smartest thing Wills ever did was decline that bout w/ Tunney and the best thing that ever happened to his legacy was that he didn't get himself splattered all over the ring in 2 rounds by Dempsey.

I know that very few folks on this board will agree with that and I don't pretend that I'm any kind of master boxing analyst. To those who disagree, I tip my hat and hope we get to see that mythical contest someday after we've crossed St. Peter's pearly gates.

Cheers.

mike21
02-17-2006, 11:33 PM
ditto to all of it above.

mike21
02-17-2006, 11:45 PM
for some good articles on boxing techniques of history;check out hynnicutts articles at coxs corner in thearchive section- its pretty accurate- advanced techniques of the heavys did come up untik the lmiddle to late 1910s- the older fighters were already formed. by dempsey, brennan, miske the techniques were modern

HEGrant
02-17-2006, 11:51 PM
Mike, thanks. It does seem like an interesting interview.

mike21
02-18-2006, 12:08 AM
HE did you get the tully interview or the hunnicut articles

mike21
02-18-2006, 01:19 AM
as far as the old time stances- it was good for defense and long distance fights, with good shot selection, straight hitting but not good for hooks and transferring of power to the front and rear leg. it had its plussess in long distance but as seen in the lights at that time, too limited on offense, and so the lightweight guys got their weight more on the front and were better offensively.

mike21
02-18-2006, 02:59 AM
HTN- kearns wrote a book titled THE MILLION DOLLAR GATE - its one of boxings great books ever- and funny as hell- igo on internet- im sure you can get it for 10 or 15 buckds. the book i s minus the dempsey willard full acount as dempsey sued sports illudtraed and the kearns people and had it expurged from the kearns book and sports illustrated issued an apology to the readers and dempsey-ie- kearns account of loadeing dempseys gloves. i think kearns passed away before the book and the article came out.