...only this one's for real...a brilliant biography about the incomparable Jack Dempsey, costarring the Roaring Twenties, by Roger Kahn (author of the baseball classic, The Boys Of Summer).
It was an extraordinary age, wedged between two earth shattering events: WWI, the "war to end all wars" (insert sardonic laugh here) and the stock market crash in October of 1929.
A bust on either end, but oh, what a boom in between!
In a decade that specialized in producing larger than life characters in all walks of life...
|6'1" Dempsey destroyed 6'7" Willard in 3 rounds to win the heavyweight championship of the world on July 4th, 1919 in Toledo, Ohio|
...the biggest of them all was Jack Dempsey.
That's not just fanboy speak because at the time he was anything but beloved.
Nasty accusations of ducking service during WWI plagued him, even after being acquitted of draft dodging charges in a sensational trial during February of 1920.
(Years later, after leading his men into battle at Okinawa in 1945 at age 49, he told Roger Kahn:
He was so completely dominant in the ring, often knocking out his opponent in the first round, many fight fans simply would not cheer for him.
Before he defeated French war hero Georges Carpentier in July of 1921 in boxing's very first million dollar gate...
|the standard ending to a Dempsey fight|
...one sportswriter said, "How can you cheer for Dempsey? That's like rooting for the guillotine instead of Sydney Carton".
It's worth noting that before this fight, the promoter - worried it would be over before it started - told the champ to "carry Carpentier for a few rounds".
Dempsey's 3 word reply?
"Go to hell."
When it came to fighting, Dempsey's creed was simple: the sooner the safer.
"You can get killed fighting in the ring," he told Kahn, "so my goal was to end it as quickly as I could."
Vividly underscoring his assertion was the Dempsey-Firpo fight in September of 1923.
After knocking down the much bigger challenger seven times during the first round, Dempsey himself was knocked completely out of the ring by the inconceivably resilient Firpo:
|that's Dempsey head over teakettle and through the ropes in round 1|
Unbelievably, Dempsey scrambled back into the ring with help from the reporters upon whom he'd fallen.
Almost 100 years later it stands as the wildest, most incredible round in heavyweight boxing history -
- and a stark reminder of why Dempsey lived by his "the sooner the safer" motto.
Roger Kahn does an outstanding job of chronicling this amazing man - from his origins of fighting in the mining camps and riding the rails ("I was a hobo, but never a bum")...
...along his journey through the Roaring Twenties and beyond, to his sad but dignified ending at age 87 as "The Champ" -
Along the way we learn about the incredible decade he dominated as the most famous, highest paid athlete and star...
...the colorful characters, the politics, the gangsters, the business climate, the entertainment industry, even Dempsey’s acceptance by European royalty.
And Kahn does all this with the deepest respect, even love, for his subject.
The 32 year old Dempsey was cheated out of regaining his title by a mob backed, crooked referee in 1927...
|Dempsey standing over the battered Tunney|
Reviewing the film, Kahn is outraged.
"I never alibi."
You owe it to yourself to read this book.
Kahn's writing is clever, informative, descriptive and you'll be both educated and entertained.
He always writes at you, not above you.
Where else will you find adjectives like Rabelaisian and belletristic without the writer seeming stuffy and ostentatious?
C'mon, you don't want to be an ignoramus, do you?
That's not a rhetorical question.
It's in the teens today, so I suggest you bundle up for your frozen trek through the Parting Shots department.
(You thought it would be heated? Sorry, but thanks to Bidenflation and Granola...
|"with the thoughts I'd be thinkin' I could be another Lincoln if I only had a brain..."|
...natural gas is 40% more expensive this year...zip up your parka and start hoofin' it.)
|this used to be satire|
|"the dish...it's empty...see the problem here?"|
|not convinced they actually live in this neighborhood|
|10 am on a (rare) sunny winter morning|
|I can relate|
|deer and ducks at the birdfeeder...go figger|