Summarized by Kent Larsen
'Jack Mormon' Dempsey Honored With Statue
MANASSA, COLORADO -- Heavyweight champion William Harrison "Jack"
Dempsey was to have been honored this past weekend with a statue in
his home town, Manassa, Colorado. The boxer was heavyweight champion
of the world from 1919 to 1926. He died in 1983.
The statue is the work of Manassa art teacher and sculptor Bob Booth,
who spent two years researching Dempsey's life and accomplishments.
Booth says that Dempsey was very different from today's boxers, "He
always praised his opponents and helped them up after knockouts,"
says Booth. "He always said he was fighting people that were better
Dempsey grew up in a Mormon family among the mining camps of Manassa,
a town that nows has less than 1,000 people. He dropped out of
elementary school to work hauling ore out of the mines. He credited a
Mormon school teacher with guiding him to a sports career.
In the mines, Dempsey got his start in boxing, earning as little as
$1 a bout. He adopted the fighting name "Jack" after the term "Jack
Mormon," admitting that he wasn't faithful to his religion.
Eventually Dempsey fought his way to the world championship, where he
fought Jess Willard, a 245-lbs monster that Dempsey, at 180-lbs,
managed to knock-out in the third round of their bout.
Dempsey lost his crown in 1926 to Gene Tunney in a brutal 10-round
bout, and nearly won it back a year later, except for
misunderstanding a changed rule that gave Tunney a chance to recover
after Dempsey knocked him out.
Before he died, Dempsey gave the long cabin that he and his siblings
were raised in to the town of Manassa, which eventually turned it
into the Jack Dempsey museum, where the new statue of Dempsey was to
have been installed this past weekend.
'Manassa Mauler' to be immortalized with statue in hometown
Houston TX Chronicle pg26 30Jul00
By W.H. Stickney Jr.