View Full Version : History of the Heavyweights part 9 (Gene Tunney)

04-18-2006, 04:18 PM
Sorry I took so long to post the 9th episode of this but I was busy at work, anyway here goes..........

Gene Tunney

Few people gave Gene Tunney a chance when he came up against the Manassa Mauler in Philadelphia on 23rd Sept 1926. It was widely expected that Dempsey would reproduce his usuall devastating form and see off a challenger who was a natural light-heavyweight. The super-confident Tunney had other ideas.

James Joseph Tunney was born on May 25th 1898 in Greenwich Village, New York. The son of poor irish catholic parents, Tunney worked as a clerk for the Ocean Steamship Company after leaving school. It was during this time he started boxing. In 1917, the year the U.S entered the first world war, Tunney joined theMarines and went to Europe with the American Expiditionary Force. He continued to box, and in Paris in 1919 he won the AEF championship. Demobbed andback in New York, he continued to win bouts and became the light-heavyweight champion of America. He took took that title from Battling Levinsky in January 1922.

Dirty fighter

In May of the same year, Tunney suffered his only defeat, and the loss of his cruiserweight title. His victor was Harry Greb, a formidable fighter( and a dirty one).
Tunney took a brutal 15 round beating, the promptly vowed to avenge the defeat and reclaim his title from Greb. He studied Greb's style and worked on some new tactics ie.learned how to counterpunch then he made good his promise in 1923. The next year he knocked out Georges Carpentier then set his sights on the fearsom Jack Dempsy, the holder of the Heavyweight crown.
Dempsey, at 31 was not in peak condition for what was his sixth title defence. He was also pre-occupied by legal and business concerns. Even so, the boxing world was un-prepared for what transpired. Tunney astonished everyone by cleverly side-stepping and riding whatever Dempsey threw at him, it was a near perfec display of counterpunching. By the tenth and final round, one of Dempsey's eyes were closed, he was bleeding profusely and pretty much out on his feet. Tunney was picking him off at will. An emphatic points victory brought Dempsey's 7 year reign to an end.

Dempsey congratulates victor

At the end of the fight, Dempsey's sight was so badly impaired that he asked one of his cornermen to point him in Tunney's direction so that he could shake the hand of the new champion. It wasn't a popular victory. The fans loved Dempsey's all action style. Tunney's chief passion was for the arts. He read Shakespear and counted George Bernard Shaw among his friends. His cultured ways didn't endear him overmuch to the fight fans of the day. It was a fitter Dempsey who entered the ring in Chicago, on 22nd Sept 1927, for the rematch. The first few rounds began in the same vein as the previous encounter, Tunney weaving and counterpunching to good effect. By the seventh round, he was comfortaby ahead on points when Dempsey finally caught him with a devastating flurry of combination punches. Tunney hit the canvas and the referee ordered Dempsey to a neutral corner, as agreed before the fight.

The "Long Count"

A vital few seconds had elapsed before Dempsey consented and the referee began the count. Tunney rose at the count of nine. He repaid the compliment by flooring Dempsey in the following round and then went on to secure another comfortable points victory. The Long Count has gone down in boxing history as one of the greatest imponderables. Some maintain that those extra seconds saved Tunney. Dempsey himself graciously accepted the champion's version of events: that he could have risen earlier, but sensibly made the most of the time given to him.
Tunney defended his title only once more against New Zealander Tom Heeney. Heeney was strong and brave, but he was no match for the immaculate Tunney, who toyed with him for 11 rounds. Heeney was bleeding so badly from one eye that Tunney dropped his hands and pleaded with the referee to stop the contest. The referee refused and the fight continued, but Tunney didn't lay a serious glove on Heeney until the ref finally called the fight to a halt. Gentleman Gene later said he wasn't prepared to risk throwing a shot that could cost his opponent his sight.

Tunney retired from the ring after the Heeney fight. He married Josephine Lauder, heiress to the Carnage Steel fortune, and became a successful business man in his own right. His decision to walk away from the ring after making the region of $1.75 million from his 3 title fights didn't play well with the fans. He may not have ranked high in the popularity stakes , but his superb ringcraft had twice got the better of one of the most feared fighters in boxing history

04-18-2006, 05:19 PM
Awesome job, seems well informed and unbiased.

You should provide links to part 1-8.

04-18-2006, 07:54 PM

I posted them here aswell(parts 1-9)

04-18-2006, 08:01 PM
another great job, kerm. is this posted at BB also?

04-18-2006, 08:33 PM
great post kerminator. :)

04-18-2006, 09:35 PM
Yes, thanks for the well written bio on Tunney. Wikipedia could scarcely have done any better.

04-19-2006, 03:35 AM
another great job, kerm. is this posted at BB also?

yes, bb have them on homepage then they are moved into history section.

04-19-2006, 01:34 PM
====It was a fitter Dempsey who entered the ring in Chicago, on 22nd Sept 1927, for the rematch. =======

** Dempsey had less rust for the rematch, but was conditioned well enough for both matches. It's been pointed out that his brother committed suicide approx a week before the rematch, and Dempsey contracted food poisoning the day before the bout and literally spent the night in the bathroom before stepping into the ring. It was just a bad set of circumstances for Dempsey to meet Tunney under. He almost got him anyway but for a minor mental mistake that cost him the KO.