A champion is someone who gets up when he can't.
Nicknamed the Manassa Mauler (he was born in Manassa, Colorado), Jack Dempsey may have been a leading boxer of the 1920s, but his reputation is such that his name still resonates with boxing fans almost a century later.
Born into desperate poverty, Jack got started simply by challenging random strangers to bar room brawls in exchange for cash if he won. He usually did.
In 1919, Jack defeated the Pottawatamie Giant Jess Willard for the World Heavyweight Championship. Willard was one of a large number of opponents who Dempsey would fight and defeat including former First World War flying ace Georges Carpentier. Jack occasionally faced criticism over his own failure to serve in the war, complaints which were later silenced following a distinguished record of service in the Second World War.
Dempsey became an immensely popular figure during his long life.
“Honey,” he famously quipped to his wife after returning, bruised, from the championship he lost to Gene Tunney in 1926, “I forgot to duck.”
Despite his heartbreak over losing his title, Dempsey was among the first to congratulate his victorious opponent. Still unsteady on his feet, “Lead me out there,” he said.
“I want to shake his hand.”
An enduring icon in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, Jack Dempsey remains one of the most popular boxers to have ever lived.