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Hardy Downing said he had a tip that the fight was going to be “on the queer” and he went to the Sheriff’s office in Salt Lake saying, “If this fight turns out to be crooked it will make a (sic) scandal and hurt the whole game around here and I want it stopped.” Downing being a promoter in the area did not want a fixed fight to take place because it would hurt his business. The sheriff stalled and said they didn’t know what they could really do about it.
Hardy described what he saw that night. “Flynn came out fanning with both hands and Jack went into his shell”-that means dropping his head and sort of hunching oneself- “dropped his left at the blow and as he fell put his right glove against his cheek and did a little flopping.”
Eyewitness said that throughout his narrative Hardy was very detailed. He even mentioned the figure involved. He said it was $500. Dempsey told Hardy after the fight, “I’ll fight for you for nothing, I want to square myself here. I always had to figure on money for the folks, and probably I done things I ought to not done but when she needed the money I figured I had to get it some way.”
Al Auerbach who was Dempsey’s manager from early 1916 and after Jack’s return from New York in July 1916 recalls, “Jack had dependants aplenty. He’d be training hard between those early fights and then maybe get $25 or $40, and the next day he’d be broke from paying his Mother’s grocery bill.”
Auerbach would not be mentioned in any of the books about Dempsey over the next 80 years. “Now you take the Flynn fight and all the grief it caused,” said Auerbach. “That was the result of a driving need, I tell you. Of course, the boy had never seen $500 of which the family owed most.”
Auerbach was also the bill payer for the Flynn-Dempsey fight at Murray. He recalled his conversation time after that fight when Dempsey told him, “I’ll tell you Al, if I had my life to live over I’d never do that thing again.”
John Derks was also at the fight. “In the first round, indeed, at the second blow, Flynn landed a terrific punch on Dempsey’s jaw” but added that, “the fight was a frame and to distinguish it from other frames it was agreed to end it quickly.”
So, in early 1920, three reputable Salt Lake City men all of whom were present at the Feb. 13, 1917 fight in Murray, Utah, when Jim Flynn beat Jack Dempsey said that the fight was “fixed”, “a fake” and “a frame.” The three men also declared individually to the Chicago Tribune that Jack Dempsey took a “dive” for $500.
The Tribune also reported that after the last prelminary bout to the Jim Flynn-Jack Dempsey heavyweight bout, “the spectators settled themselves back for the main event. Then they unsettled thesmelves, because the main event didn't show up. For 45 minutes the fans who had paid from $2 to $5 for seats waited with noisy impatience.” And now came a very important statement in the Tribunes result report; one that, in later perspective sheds a great deal of light on the circunstances of the bout.
“The delay,” said the Tribune, “it developed later, was due to financial arguments in the box office.” The 2 fight managers and the promoter arguing behind closed doors is compelling. Why a delay (when fans were upset!) caused by a secret conversation when everyone involved was present unless it was to hammer out some detail of a fix? That's great circumstantial evidence. In light of the testimony of the three Salt Lake men who were at the fight it is easy to conclude that the fix was in.
The promoter for the Dempsey-Flynn bout was, as noted previously, Fred Winsor. Winsor was still managing heavyweights in 1924. On November 17, 1924 Windsor matched his latest heavyweight sensation Tony Fuente with the famous Minnesota Plasterer, Fred Fulton whose first round knockout loss to Dempsey in 1918 had propelled Dempsey into his 1919 title match versus Jess Willard. Fuente and Fulton were matched in Culver City, California.
Fulton was on the last legs of his career and was eager for a payday. In less than a minute Fuente floored Fulton 3 times, and scored a very dubious one round knockout. On hand were 4,000 fans, including former world heavyweight champion Jim Jeffries. The fans rose to their feet screaming and yelling, “FAKE! FAKE!”
Boxrec carries the following report: “Fulton "took a dive" 35 seconds after the opening bell, it was later determined. The crowd rioted and threw "storms of cushions into the ring." (AP) It was later alleged Fulton had taken an extra $7,500 to "lie down." His manager admitted to investigating boxing officials that Fulton had warned his friends to refrain from betting on him.”
The next day, November 18, 1924 Fred Fulton and his manager Jack Reddy were arrested. Fred Winsor and his fighter Tony Fuente went “on the lam”, and were nowhere to be found. Shortly after Winsor, Fuente, Fulton and Reddy were barred from California.
Dempsey’s first wife Maxine Cates told anyone who would listen, as mentioned in Roger Khan’s book, A Flame of Pure Fire, the truth, she said, was that Dempsey threw the fight. “They offered him more money to lose than to win and he took it.”
Jack Dempsey always denied that the fight was fixed. Most of the books written about Dempsey based their conclusions of what happened on Dempsey’s own words. Certainly Dempsey’s account differed from those of newspaper accounts of the time as well as those of the eyewitnesses. All those who were associated with Dempsey and were there that night believe the Flynn fight to have been a fake. Dempsey, an unknown struggling, hungry fighter at the time, had the necessary motives to accept a payment to lay down.
The likely reason Dempsey never admitted to the fake was that he figured admitting to participating in a fix would be more damaging to his reputation than accepting a loss. One must realize that throughout most of Dempsey’s lifetime he was considered the greatest heavyweight champion of all time. In the 1950 AP Poll he was voted the greatest fighter ever. In a 1962 Ring magazine poll of 40 boxing experts Dempsey was named the greatest heavyweight of all time. His fighting reputation was not hurt by the loss to Flynn and there was simply no need to admit to the dive.
It is unfortunate that in the many books that have been written about Jack Dempsey the truth about what happened that night on February 13, 1917 in Murray, Utah has rarely been told.