Jack Dempsey: The Champion


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In 1919, Jack Dempsey rose to the pinnacle of the fistic arts by defeating Jess Willard and becoming world heavyweight champion. America’s great sports journalists Damon Runyon posed the question: “What happens next?” or, more precisely, “How do you thrive and survive as champion?”

In this second volume of Runyon’s writings on Jack Dempsey, collected here for the first time, he follows Dempsey around America and on a trip to Europe as the champion capitalizes on his newfound fame. After all, a sportsman’s flame burns twice as bright and half as long, so it is only right and fitting that he should profit from his epic achievement.

However, a prolonged absence from the ring can be fraught with danger and the correct balance needs to be found between potential income outside of the ring, and potential failure within it.

After defeating Billy Miske (easily) and Bill Brennan (not so easily) late in 1920, Jack faced the popular French champion and war hero Georges Carpentier in July 1921. It generated the first million-dollar gate in history—Dempsey stopped Carpentier in the fourth round.

It was a further two years before Jack dipped his toe back in the resined ring, defeating Tommy Gibbons (eventually) and Luis Ángel Firpo (eventfully), cementing his status as the world heavyweight champion.

This book provides a privileged glimpse into a time when Jack Dempsey was at the height of his fame and could legitimately claim to be the most popular sportsmen in the world. He had become, as Runyon wrote, “The King of Fistiana.”

In addition to Damon Runyon’s texts, there is an introduction and notes by Paul Duncan, editor of Rocky: The Complete Films.

The Author: Damon Runyon became a worldwide literary figure after the publication and subsequent film adaptations (like Guys and Dolls) of his Broadway short stories in the 1930s, but before, during and after that time he was first and foremost one of America’s greatest newspaper columnists.

The Editor: Paul Duncan has edited and written over 150 books achieving sales of over 1 million copies worldwide.
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