Jack Dempsey is widely known as one of the most popular professional boxers of all time. Recognized for his aggressive fighting style and strong punching power, Dempsey reigned as the heavyweight champion between 1919 to 1926, an astounding 7 years.
Born in Manassa, Colorado, William Dempsey grew up poor and would often hang around saloons and challenge patrons to fights in which bets would be made. William didn’t become professional until the fall of 1914.
As an amateur boxer himself, Bernie Dempsey, was scheduled to fight George Copelin. As a common practice of the time, Bernie was fighting under the pseudonym of middleweight boxer Jack “Nonpareil” Dempsey, but upon learning that Copelin had once sparred with Jack Johnson, Bernie immediately backed out of the fight and substituted his little brother.
It was immediately apparent to both Copelin and the audience that the man in the ring was not the scheduled contender due to his small stature. After reluctantly allowing the fight to commence, the referee as well as everyone else in the room was astounded when “Jack Dempsey” knocked Copelin down six times in the first round and twice in the second.
Nicknamed the Manassa Mauler, Dempsey would go on to box professionally until 1927. Besides being one of the best boxers to ever live, Dempsey’s fights set many records, including the first boxing match to ever exceed one million dollars in ticket sales.