Jack Dempsey openly stated he would not fight black challengers

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by MixedMartialLaw, Jan 7, 2023.

  1. MixedMartialLaw

    MixedMartialLaw Pugilistic linguistic Full Member

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    Following his title win he openly stated he would not fight black fighters:

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    Even leaving aside the racism does this not impact his legacy by him openly ducking challengers?
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2023
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  2. Melankomas

    Melankomas Member Full Member

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    It does, immensely. Any champion who refuses to fight someone solely based on their race is nothing more than a paper champion.
     
  3. AwardedSteak863

    AwardedSteak863 Boxing Addict Full Member

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    Dempsey and Tunney both wouldn't defend against black fighters. I do believe Dempsey fought black men before he was champion but Tunney was very open about not fighting black men.
     
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  4. Melankomas

    Melankomas Member Full Member

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    Tunney too?! How disappointing.
     
  5. Seamus

    Seamus Proud Kulak Full Member

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    John Lester Johnson was the last black fighter he faced and that was in 1916. JLJ put the fright in him, busting his ribs.

    That said, by the time Jack got to his prime he would have been favored against anyone around, black, white, yellow, red or brown.

    Right or wrong, it was in tradition for his management to say what they did and tradition has always been a huge part of the sport, then and now. Hell, Jack didn't go by Bill Dempsey, he named himself in honor of the Non-Pareil, the middleweight of 30 years previous.

    That said, with Rickard and Company, I would always suspect a money angle on it. It was more about the green than the black. If Jack started accepting challenges from black fighters part of the white public would have hated him even more than they did for being a slacker. Say what you will about the attempts to fight Wills being in good faith, I think that again was all money wrangling. His relationship with Bill Tate suggests that even in his youth he was not a racist, certainly not by the day's standards.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2023
  6. robert ungurean

    robert ungurean Богдан Philadelphia Full Member

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    Excellent post from @Seamus. I'll expand on that a bit. Dempsey had a whole crew of Black sparring partners. He also seemed very fond of Bill Tate going so far as paying some heavy bills for Tate when he fell on some hard times late in life both financially and physically if I'm not mistaken. I've read almost every book on Dempsey out there and I've never read anything about him being a racist. Outside the ring seemed to be a kind gentleman
     
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  7. AwardedSteak863

    AwardedSteak863 Boxing Addict Full Member

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    It's really no different from what baseball was doing at the same time. I'm sure plenty of ballplayers weren't racist at heart but it wasn't a great time to be a person of color in the US.

    Most of what I have read about Dempsey was that he was a good man and not a racist but Tunney is another story. Either way, right is right and wrong is wrong and both men were wrong for not defending against all challengers. The title is the heavyweight WORLD champion after all.
     
  8. Athlas

    Athlas New Member Full Member

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    What was the story about Tunney?
     
  9. Pugguy

    Pugguy Boxing Addict Full Member

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    Whether it was due to personal racism or not, precluding black fighters simply because they were black diminishes their legacy in ALL objectivity.

    Also, some blame management and not the fighter (certainly the quote at the start was expressed in the third person) but that might matter in a moral discussion re the fighter - like:-

    “Yeah, he really did want to defend against black challengers but other, external forces were in play that ran block”.

    True or not, it means little in terms of objective analysis - did Champ X duly defend his title against eligible black contenders or not?

    If not, then he hasn’t dominated the whole field - notwithstanding the alleged, contributing mechanisms behind the scenes.

    Even Tiny Tommy Burns said that in order for him to call himself Champion, he must fight all comers, race, colour notwithstanding - that sentiment is perfectly correct even if Tommy himself didn’t strictly adhere to it - but he did, after all, fight Johnson and defend (albeit unsuccessfully) his title against a black man during his active reign.

    That’s a lot more than the much larger and more heralded Jim Jeffries could muster himself for. The diminutive, plucky Canuck put big Jeff to shame.
     
  10. Journeyman92

    Journeyman92 El Radar Dios los bendiga Full Member

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    Jack was such a racist he hung out in camp with his mostly black sparring crew and brought Bill Tate a house.
     
  11. Journeyman92

    Journeyman92 El Radar Dios los bendiga Full Member

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    Trying to be more like Corbett.
     
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  12. mcvey

    mcvey Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    He did later rescind this and say he was willing meet any deserving challenger.
     
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  13. mcvey

    mcvey Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    And paid for spar mate George Godfrey;s funeral ,and also boxed two benefits for Sam Langford and contributed cash to them as well.
     
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  14. mcvey

    mcvey Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    You could make the case that Burns was the first true heavyweight champion of the world because he did give Johnson his chance.
     
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  15. Mendoza

    Mendoza Hrgovic = Next Heavyweight champion of the world. banned Full Member

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    Reading the fight and quoting Dempsey words I think Dempsey was lucky to have this fight scored a draw.

    In 1916 Johnson fought future world champion Jack Dempsey to a 10-round draw, during which Dempsey suffered several broken ribs. Although a draw, Dempsey later said, "I thought he [Johnson] licked me. I didn't know how to fight then and Johnson did. Yes, I think he won "

    So there we have it. Dempsey admits defeat.

    Johnson amassed a professional boxing record of 39-29-6, with 23 of his wins by KO. He was not a contender and Langford, Wills, Jeanette, Norfolk, Fulton et all beat him and had easy times with the man.

    Yet this is the best African American Dempsey fought? Did Dempsey fight others?
     
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