Dempsey-Carpentier Revisited

by
Dempsey-Carpentier Revisited
The WBA's birth helped to revive boxing in 1921

Dempsey-Carpentier Revisited

by
Dempsey-Carpentier Revisited
The WBA's birth helped to revive boxing in 1921

Dempsey-Carpentier was the first fight sanctioned by the National Boxing Association, the precursor to the WBA.
Dempsey-Carpentier from 1921 was the first fight sanctioned by the National Boxing Association, the precursor to the WBA.

“I was one of those hungry fighters. You could have hit me on the chin with a sledgehammer for five dollars. When you haven’t eaten for two days you’ll understand.”—Jack Dempsey

On July 2, 1921, at Boyle’s Thirty Acres in Jersey City, New Jersey, heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey (50-4-9), from Manassa, Colorado, defended his title against light heavyweight champion Georges Carpentier (81-11-5), from Paris, France.

That fight was 91 years ago today and is significant for several reasons. The fight billed as “Battle of the Century” was boxing’s first million-dollar gate. More than 80,000 fight fans saw Dempsey-Carpentier live. It was also the first fight broadcast on radio to a wide audience. According to Wireless Age magazine, it was nothing less than “history in the making.”

The promoter of the fight, Tex Rickard, understood this business inside out and upside down. Every promoter who has followed in his footsteps owes him a debt of gratitude. In order to generate publicity for the bout, Rickard cast the fight as a war between good and evil. In one corner was the good, Georges Carpentier, who was a decorated pilot during World War I. In the other corner was the bad, Jack Dempsey, who had been accused of being a draft dodger, a “slacker” who avoided conscription during the Great War.

Also of significance is the fact the Dempsey-Carpentier was the first heavyweight title fight sanctioned by the National Boxing Association, the precursor to the World Boxing Association.

The fight failed to live up to the hype, as is often the case, but it wasn’t for want of trying. It was Dempsey’s third defense of the heavyweight title he won from Jess Willard two years earlier and he was still a fearsome presence. Carpentier was a tough customer, despite being known as The Orchid Man. But Dempsey was simply too big, too strong, too formidable a fighter for the Frenchman to contend with.

Dempsey knocked out Carpentier in the fourth round.

Jack Dempsey vs. Georges Carpentier can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2UYwrU-Xro

This article was penned by the author who is not related to the WBA and the statements, expressions or opinions referenced herein are that of the author alone and not the WBA.


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