Yeah, you see the autographed pic of Dempsey, and your mind spins — you’re thinking it’s Autograph Hound Saturday!
But it’s Thursday July 4th — and American Independence happened more than a hundred years ago, right? (That’s what I heard, anyway.)
Rest easy, it’s just our pal Brian Leno exercising his boxing knowledge. He apologizes for not having a signed card of Willard, but I’m sure he’s working on it.
Let Brian — author of Ringside with Robert E. Howard — explain:
100 years ago today, on July 4th, 1919, Jack Dempsey won the heavyweight title from Jess Willard in Toledo.
It was a remarkable time in the history of sports. Dempsey was more popular than Babe Ruth and boxing was followed every bit as closely as football or baseball.
Here’s what Robert E. Howard had to say about Dempsey in a letter to H. P. Lovecraft, years after Dempsey was no longer champion: “Jack London and Jim Tully wrote their way up out of the abyss; Jack Dempsey fought his way up.”
In the same letter REH adds, “He became champion in spite of hell and high water. He made millions for himself and for others. During his reign the prize-fighting profession reached a height it will never reach again. He set a new style in fighting and in the literature of fighting men.”
The Dempsey-Willard match is sometimes referred to as the “Massacre at Toledo” and it most certainly was that. Willard was unable to leave his corner for the fourth round and had taken what is perhaps one of the most severe pugilistic beatings in history.
Dempsey was a fistic marvel and it can truly be said we’ll never see his like again.
The Dempsey is autographed, the Willard, sadly is not.