Jack Dempsey vs. Gene Tunney (1st meeting)

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Gene Tunney (left) vs. Jack Dempsey

Jack Dempsey 190 lbs lost to Gene Tunney 190 lbs by UD in round 10 of 10


  • Promoter Tex Rickard wanted to stage Dempsey vs. Tunney at Yankee Stadium on September 16, 1923. However, on August 16, the state license committee said they would not grant Dempsey a license until he complied with the New York State Athletic Commission's order to defend against Harry Wills. On August 18, Rickard announced that Dempsey would fight Tunney in Philadelphia on September 23.
  • There was a crowd of 120,557. It was the largest paid attendance ever for a boxing match. The record stood for nearly 67 years. It was broken when 132,274 paid to see Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Greg Haugen in Mexico City on February 20, 1993. Tony Zale vs. Billy Pryor attracted a crowd of 135,132 in Milwaukee on August 16, 1941, but that was a free show. It was staged by the Fraternal Order of Eagles and the Pabst Brewing Company as the centerpiece of FOE international convention.
  • This was boxing's third million dollar gate, bringing in $1,895,733.
  • Dempsey's purse was $770,000 and Tunney's was $200,000.
  • Dempsey was heavily favored to win.
  • On the morning of the fight, Mike Trent, one of Dempsey's bodyguards, gave the champion a small glass of olive oil, a habit meant to aid digestion. Dempsey suffered something akin to food poisoning. Rumors spread that gamblers had paid Trent to put something in Dempsey's olive oil, but nothing was substantiated. Many believed racketeer Arnold Rothstein was behind it. Rothstein, who was ringside for the fight, bet $125,000 at 4 to 1 odds that Tunney would win.
  • Tunney arrived to the fight in an airplane, which worried Rickard.
  • It started to rain as the fighters entered the ring.
  • Tunney dominated the fight and won by a 10-round unanimous decision.
  • Tunney's win was named "Upset of the Decade" by The Ring magazine.

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