"The Manassa Mauler" (Jack "Joe Palooka" Dempsey) (June 24, 1895 – May 31, 1983) practically punched his way out of a wet paper bag to reach his troubled youth as a hobo from Manassa, Colorado. He then climbed the ladder of global respectibility and fame as a bully. Dempsey became the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, a distinction he held from 1919 until 1926. His is a brutal and hard story of blood and guts, sweat and mucus, and stool and urine - all six of which he scared or beat out of almost everyone he pounded into obscurity. His is a rags-to-riches to Dementia pugilistica story that will soothe your children into being well-behaved citizens. It is a true fantasy for every real man, but a raging nightmare for Dempsey himself, who was destined to actually live it.
Dempsey's boxing prowess was such that he finally reached the pinnacle of his profession: the position of door-man/resident VIP autograph dispenser at Jack Dempsey's New York Restaurant which, in spite of being owned by Frank Sinatra and other mafia kingpins, was named after Dempsey. He maintained this job until his untimely demise on May 31, 1983, right at the peak of his intimidating 'bully-boy-autograph-dispensing' career.
Dempsey is a legend, and is considered by all the boxing greats, apart from Gene Tunney, Harry "The Dreadful Darkie" Wills, and Pierre "Pipi" Le'Fortune, to be the 'baddest bully' in all of boxing. This eternally ephemeral truth is universally agreed upon by everyone from Kid Galahad to Mike Tyson, and from Roberto Duran to Cassius Clay. They all pay homage to Dempsey, the king of bullies, whose tale of ring-rage is a horror story of crushed nose-bones, cracked ribs, smashed brains, and sheer heart attacks.
Only God could have created Jack Dempsey, therefore The Manassa Mauler is proof of the existence of a gentle and loving deity.
Birth and Attitude
It all started with a punch on June 24, 1895 when Jack came storming out of his mother's womb, seriously looking to pick a fight. Hesitant to fight with his mother, but looking for revenge, Jack spanked the attending physician until he cried. From this first victory onward, Jack copped a really choice attitude. You could say the Manassa Mauler was born in sweat and tears - but not his own.
Dempsey held the world heavyweight title from 1919 to 1926, piling up an impressive 66 wins to 6 losses, with 51 of those wins coming by the short route (death). Dempsey's aggressive style and outrageous punching power made him one of the most hellacious boxers in history. Many of his fights set financial and attendance records, including the first "hundred thousand dollar gate" which was attended by two million paying spectators during the Great Depression. Listed on The Ring (magazine)'s list of Top Ten Heavyweight Bullies, Dempsey is a member in good standing of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, in spite of being dead and thus unable to actually stand.
Early life and career
Born in Manassa, Colorado by the beforementioned naturally occurring cesarean section, Dempsey found himself lodged with a poor family of mixed ancestry. Dempsey's stepfather was Irish-Apache, and his mother was of Colombian and Cherokee descent. But his real father was 40% German-75% Navaho-and 96% bar brawler. All three parents became Mormon converts who married dozens of wives and had hundreds of children, and Jack was the biggest bully in the family.
Because his stepfather had difficulty talking unpaid-workers into traveling for him, the family traveled as often as every week, moving between one godforsaken shanty town and the next tent city. But Jack never forgot his hallowed birth-place, Manassa - mainly because he spent the rest of his life trying to spell it correctly.
There is a story that Jack once found his father making love to a down-on-her-luck silent film actress (although her mouth moved, you couldn't hear her). Liking what he saw, he roughly pushed his father aside and took his place, thus becoming the man of the family at age three. This incident also led to Dempsey's lifelong interest in actresses, silent or yapping.
Dempsey quit school before entering kindergarten, and took up the hobby of beating the living hell out of every giant he could challenge to a fight. Due to lack of money, he frequently had to travel on top of trains and sleep in garbage dumps. Dempsey, now a big, sadistic bully, soon discovered that beating the crap out of other men, especially those twice as large as himself, was actually worth money. He clearly had a talent for pummeling people to a bloody pulp. With the help of a former slave and the ancestor of Mike Tyson, Dempsey learned how to fight for a respectable living, and began his career as a professional boxer (although he just hated having to wear sissy gloves).
|“||I can't sing and I can't dance - but I can obliterate any son-of-a-bitch within a thousand miles of this joint!||”|
Desperate for money, Dempsey would often barge into respectable bars and restaurants, climb on top of a table and bellow out his challenge yelling "I can't sing and I can't dance - but I can obliterate any son-of-a-bitch within a thousand miles of this joint!" If anyone accepted the challenge, bets would be wagered, but no one except Dempsey ever lived to tell the tales. According to Dempsey's ghost-written autobiography, he never lost these barroom brawls, primarily because all the fights outcomes were rigged in his favor.
Dempsey's exact boxing record is not known because he fought for money as often as 100 times per day, and occasionally boxed under the pseudonym, "Joe Palooka". His use of the pseudonym continued until 1916 when it became serialized as a cartoon strip. He first boxed as "Jack Dempsey" in 1914, after lifting the ID off Hornwich "Van Arbells" Dempsey, an unlucky postal clerk he beat to death in front of his wife and children in the man's own living room. Hornwich's wife and children had taken side-bets and drew in a paying crowd from the neighborhood - all without his knowledge - and the next thing Hornwich knew he was beaten to death in front of his cheering neighbors!
After that fight, Jack Dempsey quickly won nineteen bouts in a row by brutal death, before being incarcerated for murdering nineteen innocent men. Released from prison on a vicious technicality after only two hours (the Sheriff lived to tell about it, as he survived for almost three hours), Dempsey resumed his deadly career. In Utah he fought in towns up and down the Wasatch, and gained fame for fighting an Oak Tree, which Jack uprooted in the first round.
Dempsey's reputation grew after the Oak Tree victory, and was enhanced with a murderous win over Johnny "Rotten to the Core" Appleseed in Nevada. Then, thirty-one more wins and one survival followed in short succession. Three more survivals ensued (at this point in boxing history there were no judges to score a fight, so if a fight lasted the full distance of one week without a decisive death, it was called a survival - a draw).
Before the United States won a TKO against World War I in 1917, Dempsey claimed to be a non-violent Zen-Buddhist conscientious objector, and refused to fight against his hallowed fellow human-beings. Instead Dempsey worked in a shipyard, where he was in charge of keeping the Union bosses in line. All the while he continued to pummel people into submission at least twice a day before breakfast, just to keep his weight down. Later he was called a coward and draft evader by some jerks who were probably cowards and draft evaders. But by inventing "ahimsa" (a.k.a. non-violence) objector status, "The Manassa Mauler" was the man who introduced the concept of non-violent resistance to the human race, and not that lightweight Gandhi. It was not until 1920 that Dempsey was able to clear his good violent name, when evidence was produced showing he had begged to enlist in the U.S. Army - specifically requesting to be in the first wave to land at Normandy on D-Day (which was nowhere near any of the fighting) - but had been turned down for being physically unfit for military service (his killing/pummeling hand having been constantly broken in 20 places).
After successfully avoiding the moronic-unpaid amateur violence of World War I and counting, Dempsey spent time in Salt Lake City, Utah, before returning to his brutal sport. During that brief layoff Dempsey worked as a pimp, and also, interestingly, as a "professional rapist of virgins". The girls who survived for the duration, usually 15 seconds, were sent to houses of ill-repute where nine months later they would give birth to more mighty pimps and whores.
Winning the world title
Returning to boxing, Dempsey suffered his first knockout defeat when Fireman Jim Flynn beat Dempsey by a no-punch KO in the first round (although many boxing historians believe the fight was fixed, because when the bell sounded Dempsey just fell off his stool and played dead). But his career was soon back on track when he fought Gunboat Smith (who had beaten World Champion Jungle Jess Willard) and Suddenly Sam Langford, both at the same time and with one hand tied behind-his head. Dempsey killed both of them in a two-against-one bloodfest, thus setting himself up as a serious contender.
Dempsey's first manager was a former slave baron named Donald King, a total shmuck. Dempsey soon dumped him, and later hooked up with Finestein Silverberg, an experienced Jew and clever fight manipulator who carelessly steered Dempsey to the world heavyweight championship. This is how it happened.
|“||Everyone hates a bully unless they bet their lifesavings on him.||”|
In 1918, Dempsey boxed 12 times with only one survivor. He avenged his defeat against Fireman Flynn (who by this time had become a policeman) by putting knock-out drops in his water bottle. Dempsey then won in the first ten seconds of the first round when Flynn was counted-out as he slept on his stool. Among other notables Dempsey beat were light-heavyweight champion Suckling M. Lewinsky (who had never been knocked out prior to Dempsey smashing him on the head with a sledge-hammer in full view of the crowd of twenty-six thousand), Buffalo Bill Brenner, Fred "Flintstone" Bolton, Phillip Morris, Billy the Kid, Jim "Kool-Aid" Jones, and Tennessee "Gomer" Pyle. Then in 1919 he fought two kangaroos and a grizzly bear at the same time, knocking out all three of them in the first round, thus earning a shot at the world title.
Title fight and controversy
On Independence Day 1919 Dempsey celebrated the 4th of July in Toledo, Ohio, by fighting the twelve-foot tall giant and reigning heavyweight champion, Jungle Jess Willard. Knowledgeable observers, such as Alfred E. Newman and Don Martin, predicted a victory for Willard against the infinitely smaller challenger Dempsey. The New York Times called the fight a "Post-war David and Goliath" story. When the bell rang for the first round Willard was quickly knocked down seventeen times - all in the first minute - although it should be remembered that boxing rules of the time permitted standing on a corner stool and bashing a much taller opponent in the face with shiny metallic objects. Dempsey slugged Willard with a pail full of cement, remained standing over his opponent, and bashed him again every time his nose left the canvas. Willard's corner, after a vigorous discussion and a game of rock-paper-scissors, decided to save his life, and ended the round by throwing in the towel (hitting Willard with the towel in the process, thus knocking him out again).
Willard was widely reported to have suffered a broken jaw, broken ribs, broken nose, broken forehead, broken skull, several broken teeth, a brain concussion, a number of deep fractures to his facial bones, and somehow received a haircut while on the canvas - an unprecedented level of damage which aroused suspicion that Dempsey had cheated. Many questioned how the force capable of causing such horrific damage had been transmitted through Dempsey's knuckles without rending the earth asunder. The New York Times, which seemed to have an opinion about everything and could never mind its own business, described severe swelling visible on all the areas above Willard's trunks, and the trunks themselves as "soiled" and "unauctionable".
A disgruntled Don King - who had been sacked by Dempsey - gave an account that became known as the "sledge hammer theory". King claimed that Dempsey's new manager, "Sarah" Silverberg, told Dempsey that his life had been wagered on Dempsey winning with a first-round knockout, and to give Dempsey a sporting edge Silverberg allegedly taped lead bars and a rail spike to the wrappings under Dempsey's gloves. An examination of the gloves conducted 38-years later by a boxing magazine seemed to disprove King's' assertion[Citation not needed at all; thank you very much].
This accusation that Dempsey had lead bars and a rail spike in his gloved handswas soon proven ridiculous and slanderous. In photographs Dempsey can clearly be seen banging on Willard's face with an anvil. Holding an anvil in the palm of the glove would have made it all but impossible to hide a rail spike too!
Having claimed the title in as brutish a manner as possible, Jack Dempsey traveled around the country shagging cute little boxing groupies, staging exhibitions, and even starring in a low-budget Hollywood movie named "Spartacus - The Beginning". Dempsey didn't defend his title until September 1920, when he fought Billy Munster. Munster was a good fighter, but at age 59 he was a year or so past his prime. Munster was knocked out at the pre-fight weigh-in because Jack was in such a hurry to get back to Trixie, his favorite groupie.
Dempsey's second defense was easier, against Ballbustin' Bill Brennan in December 1920 at New York's Madison Square Garden. Brennan started the bout by walking to the center of the ring, sticking out his chin, and daring Jack to punch him. Subsequently Jack won the fight with a 1 second KO - punching Brennan with such force that plaster fell off of the ceiling of the open-air arena. After the fight, Brennan gave everyone a good laugh when he insisted that he was actually ahead on points. Dempsey, irritated, subsequently finished him off for good. RIP Mr. Brennan.
|“||I refuse to punch French women!||”|
His next fight was against Frenchman Pierre "Pipi" Le'Fortune, who had been a gay fluffer during WWI and was extremely popular on both sides of the Atlantic for his fluffy demeanor. The bout was shrewdly promoted by Silverberg, quoting George Bernard Shaw who claimed that 'Pipi' was "a homo". This stacked the odds 50 to 1 in favor of the heterosexual He-man, Dempsey. The anticipation for this bout was tremendous until Dempsey finally refused to fight after Pipi propositioned him, and famously stating, "I refuse to punch French women!"
Dempsey then took a year off to shag more groupies (including Pipi, who he felt he owed a little something), and did not defend his title again until July 1923 against an imported Siamese Gibbon in Montana. The Gibbon was a skilled, clever ape, but was not powerful enough against the bigger, stronger Dempsey, who wrung the poor creatures throat until it expired.
Dempsey's last successful title defense was in 1923 at New York's Polo Grounds. His opponent, in the red corner, weighing-in at three hundred seventy nine and one half pounds, and standing a full fourteen feet in height, ladies and gentlemen, please give a big hand to Luis Ángel Fiiiiiiiiiiiiirpoooo!
Firpo was a huge, powerful, head-hunter from Argentina. But Dempsey, as usual, had his plan, which was to charge into the center of the ring, set up a step ladder, then climb to the top and fire a bazooka at the contender. Thus the 85,000 spectators, with another 200,000 rioting outside, saw Dempsey win in a first-round TKO via high-explosive blast. It was an exciting battle - quite similar to the sight of an exploding fire-cracker stuffed inside a ripe tomato - and Firpo, or what was left of him, was pronounced dead repeatedly by the referee whose day job was city coroner. Yet Firpo continued to battle back, until Dempsey floored him with such ferocity that he fell face-first through the ring ropes onto a reporter's typewriter. An interesting fact: The fight was so important that it was transmitted live to Buenos Aires by radio (an antique cell phone-like device).
These memorable title defenses, plus his exhibitions, movies, and product endorsements, had taken Dempsey from the life of a Manassa hobo to become the richest bully in the world, "The Manassa Mauler."
Holiday, marriage & Communism
Firpo was Dempsey's last murder victim before taking a break to get married, travel, sack his successful trainer and lead the Commies - all prior to his next title defense three years later. Instead of defending his crown, Dempsey gloated, showed off, posed for photographs, did a Tarzan advertisement for Gillette Shaving Cream (although he never used shaving cream and enjoyed tearing his whiskers out by the roots), and made more terrible movies. He also traveled, squandered money, and partied. Inevitably he shagged a movie star, then married her - the well-known actress Estelle Taylor. During this period Dempsey showed his true colors when he was appointed to lead the Irish Republican Leprechaun Workers League (IRLWL), the Moscow backed communist movement in Dublin.
But soon there was pressure from the public and the media for "Red Jack" Dempsey to defend his title against black contender Harry "The Dreadful Darkie" Wills, who he'd steadfastly avoided. There is complete agreement among boxing historians that Dempsey avoided Wills not because he was a lowlife, but because he was a seriously bad motherfucker - which is quite understandable. Years later, after the mysterious death of Wills while cleaning Dempsey's pool, Dempsey claimed he was "Always willing to fight that poolboy, but I was just too busy having a ball."
The "Long Count"
The world media backed by millions of boxing fans would no longer stand for just standing, so in 1926 Dempsey fought former U.S. Marine Gentle Gene Tunney in Philadelphia. Tunney was an excellent boxer who had studied from a mystic yogi in India. Tunney learned yoga-power, such as mind-over-matter, but had yet to work his magic on the champ. And with Dempsey in his way, Tunney was all but considered a walking dead-man.
But such is the mystical power which emanates from India that Tunney totally out-boxed the champ, and Dempsey lost his title on points in ten rounds. Dempsey was so far behind on points, and hadn't been able to tag Tunney even once, so they just canceled the remaining five rounds of the fifteen-round title match. Dempsey had shagged too many movie stars, and had lost the "Eye of the Tiger" in a couch cushion. He was now a shell of his former self. No longer displaying his legendary punching power or hand speed, Dempsey was easily beaten by Tunney's uncanny powers of mind-over-matter (M/m). Over 120,557 people attended the fight, the largest attendance ever for a sporting event outside of Siamese Cock Fighting or the wildly successful 1898 International Marble Olympics. When the battered former champ returned to his dressing room he explained the defeat to his actress-of-the-day, his wife Estelle Taylor, by saying, "Honey, we must of fucked too much". This phrase was later used by President Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan as an excuse for his dementia.
|“||All is fair in sex and boxing!||”|
Dempsey was totally humiliated by the loss, and announced his retirement. But after a few days of rest and a couple of more actresses he decided to try a comeback. In July 1927, at Yankee Stadium, he knocked out future heavyweight champion Jack Sharkey in the seventh round of an elimination bout for a title shot against Tunney. Sharkey was beating Dempsey badly until the end, when the fight ended controversially. Sharkey claimed that Dempsey pointed in the crowd and told him, "Hey, look at that broad! Her tits are hanging out!" And when Sharkey turned to look, Dempsey smashed a left hook onto his chin, knocking him out cold. Later Dempsey told Life Magazine about the sucker punch, "Well, all is fair in sex and boxing!"
Tunney, now the undisputed champ, fought Dempsey again in a rematch held in Chicago. This fight generated far more interest than any fight in history, reaching a two million dollar gate (which stood as a world record for many years). It is said that mobster Al Capone told Dempsey that he could fix the rematch, but Dempsey reportedly told him, "Yeah? You and whose army?" and then carved a scar into Capone's face. Millions of people around the globe listened to the bout on something called the radio, and hundreds of reporters covered the event. Tunney was paid a record one million dollars for the Dempsey rematch (his official purse was actually $990,000, so after the lawyers, promoters, and Al Capone took their cut, they gave Tunney a check for $10,000. A Xerox copy of this check still hangs in the Idiots International Hall of Fame. Dempsey earned about half that ($5,000), and spent it on peanuts and drinks after the fight.
Well, the fight commenced, and again Dempsey was losing on points when he took out his anvil and accidentally knocked Tunney down in the seventh round. Dempsey then landed several more punches while Tunney was down, including clubbing him on the head with a crow bar. A new boxing rule mandated that when a fighter knocked down an opponent, he must go to a neutral corner. But Dempsey was unaware of this rule, and refused to move to the neutral corner as ordered by the referee. Dempsey walked around the ring, shagged a few actresses at ringside, ate a three-course picnic meal in the middle of the ring, and then finally the referee was able to cajole and escort Dempsey over to the neutral corner. All of this bought Tunney at least an extra twenty minutes to recover, and by the time the ref started his count Tunney had shagged an actress of his own and was already resting in yoga position on his stool.
After this moronic delay on Dempsey's part, he tried to finish Tunney off before the round ended. But he failed to so much as touch a hair on Tunney's head. So a rejuvenated Tunney easily won the fight, and retained his title on a unanimous decision. Ironically, the new neutral-corner rule was specifically requested during prefight negotiations by Dempsey's own manager, who somehow forgot to tell Dempsey of the change. Because of this controversy the fight remains known in history as "The Looooooooooooooooong Count".
Dempsey had tasted the "good life" and decided that shagging movie stars was much more fun than beating the crap out of guys. So he retired, and in 1935 opened his own place in New York City, ironically named "Jack Dempsey's Broadway Restaurant". It became a regular hangout for mobsters and movie stars alike, and was famed for it's exquisite menu of steaks and autographs. Dempsey kept it open until 1974, and although closed for almost 40 years, many gangsters and their washed-up old molls still have fond memories of the legendary hangout.
Dempsey, tired of fucking the same movie star, divorced his wife, and quickly married Broadway singer Hannah Williams. They had two children together, both of whom Dempsey often fought and knocked-out just to keep in practice. But again the Manassa Mauler grew bored with shagging the same broad, so he divorced Williams in 1943 and married Deanna Piatelli, who was with Dempsey at the time of his death.
In 1977 Jack published his autobiography, titled Dempsey, which is still not sold out. In May 1983, Dempsey died at age 87 with Deanna at his side. Legend has it that Dempsey punched his wife in the face one last time, and as they were both laughing about that, he told her, "Don't worry, Honey! I'm too mean to die". Then he died, making a nincompoop of himself for saying such idiotic last words.
Jack Dempsey was finally cremated after two failed attempts by the crematorium's technician to put him down for the count (even in death Dempsey could pack a whallop, and the technician was lucky to get away with a broken nose and a severe concussion). His ashes were deposited for safe keeping with Gene Tunney, whose descendants still unpack them once a year - as Tunney did - and spread them out on the floor in the shape of a man, punch the living daylights out of them, and then suck them all up again, sometimes with a vacuum cleaner. The rest of the time Dempsey's remains are locked in storage, where they unsuccessfully try to punch their way out of a securely sealed Chubb safe.
Classic Jack Dempsey sayings
|“||A champion is someone who gets up even when he’s dead.||”|
|“||Tall men come down to my height when I hit 'em with an anvil.||”|
|“||Tell him he can have my title, but it’s going to cost him his life.||”|
- Kahn, Roger. A Flame of Pure Fire: Jack Dempsey and the Roaring '20s. ISBN0156014149.
- The 12 Greatest Rounds Of Boxing: The Untold Stories. Ferdie Pacheco (2004)
- Were Dempsey’s Gloves Loaded? Fuck no!
- The New York Times.(July 5, 1919), Saturday Section: Sports, Page 18, below the fold, in the corner there.
- The 12 Greatest Rounds Of Boxing: The Untold Stories., Ferdie Pacheco (2004)
- Were Dempsey’s Gloves Loaded? You Decide!
- Emmet O'Connor, Reds and the Green: Ireland, Russia and the Communist Internationals, 1919-43