While Schoolboy and the rest of the locker room continue reading all about the fight, I scan all the newspaper obituary sections, just as I have for the past three days, looking for some mention of Sunday night. This morning, I finally see it. Sign in. Get started.
The Long Count. Friday, September 23, New York City. Myles Thomas Follow. The fight is going on. Tunney is down. Diary Sports Boxing Radio Race. Real-Time Historical Fiction. Write the first response. Discover Medium.
1927: The Diary of Myles Thomas
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It was true the other night in Los Angeles. It seems to me to be true wherever I go. All I have to say about that hectic contest is that I fought the best that I knew how to fight. I put into that battle everything that I could summon in the lexicon of physical equipment and experience. Gene was down, and, boys, he had been hit! A look at the motion pictures of the battle will indicate just how many punches Gene absorbed as he toppled over there against the ropes.
I want to say something else in terminating my story. Gene Tunney, on the floor of that Chicago ring, showed the world more of the stuff of which a champion is made than he did in the entire fight at Philadelphia. He has the equipment and the heart of a champion. Had he not, he never would have got up off that ring floor in Chicago inside a hundred count.
Dempsey V. Tunney: The Long Count Fight of – StMU History Media
All the way through that contest, I figured it a hard-fought and close one. After Gene had got up, following that knock-down, he gave a great exhibition of thinking under fire. I could not catch him for the rest of the round to land a finishing punch. But I kept right on trying in the next round, and as a result of my over-anxiety, Gene dropped me to my knees for a count of one.
Gene won the decision and remained heavyweight champion of the world.
To say that I was not disappointed would be to tell a lie. I was disappointed. But once again I had collected a modest fortune for my efforts, and there was a good deal in my life to console me for the missing heavyweight championship. There was a home and a wife in Hollywood. There was plenty of money in the bank to take care of me and the family I had caused so much worry in my younger days.
There was the Firpo fight, the Carpentier fight, the Fulton fight, and several others which had marked the very peak of thrills for the boxing public. Of none of these need I ever be ashamed. After all, that man who wins a championship should be content. He should not expect to hold it over the hurdles of the onrushing years.
In my dressing room after the second Tunney contest, I was momentarily dejected. As is always the case with dressing rooms, a great many people I did not know managed to crowd in. I presume this is curiosity on their part, and it may be morbid curiosity. A fighter, in defeat or victory, is much like a monkey in a zoo to those who can get close to him. They want to look at your eyes and your ears to see how badly you may have been injured.
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They want to pick up a word here or a gesture there which, later on, they can relay, magnified, to their own little public. I have always regarded these curious fans in a tolerant, even friendly way. They are, I presume, out of the great masses which support professional boxing. But I never had come to regard them seriously, nor did I ever expect to receive from one of them a perfect gem of philosophy. But I did. It came from an emaciated chap weighing not more than pounds, in high boots and an overcoat. I never will forget him. He had a hooked nose and sharp little eyes that winked incessantly under thin, scraggly eyebrows.
He was smoking a cigarette when first I saw him, puffing a cigarette and looking intently at me. I sat down on the edge of a rubbing table and my handlers began removing the bandages from my fists. The little chap wore a brown suit and shifted uneasily from foot to foot.
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He smoked jerkily at his cigarette, inhaling nervously and blowing the smoke upward so that it curled under the brim of a shabby, brown felt hat. I noticed, for no particular reason, that his fingernails were in deepest mourning about their tips. I grinned at him and winked. He took the gesture as a personal salutation which seemed, from his expression, to illuminate his life.
I grinned and winked again. Newspapermen crowded about, but they did not get between us. The little stranger saw to that. One of the newspapermen said:. The count had started and I thought it would continue. How many times do you have to count a guy out to win? Seventeen seconds! If you had a kick to make, you should have pulled Jack out of the ring when it all happened. I shrugged. I was too busy trying to fight. Following my knockout victory over Jack Sharkey, Tex Rickard immediately propositioned me for another match with Gene Tunney.
This win over Jack Sharkey puts you right out front with Tunney himself. Who can know but that man who has lived through the experience what it means to wonder whether you are good or bad? I had every reason to feel I had been a great fighter. The old fighting heart and the old fighting instinct throbbed within me for expression.
I hated the thought of anybody else in possession of my heavyweight championship. I reasoned the thing out very carefully in my own way; thought it out when I was alone at night with none to bother me. There was one thing which seemed certain to me. That was that I would knock out any man I hit right. What if my legs had slowed up a trifle? What if the old zip and speed were gone from my bobbing and weaving?
These things must essentially be offset by experience and by knowledge. I felt strong as an ox, and because most of my contests had been short, I had never really taken any serious beatings. Why, then, should I not gamble that at least once in 10 long rounds I could tap Gene Tunney on the chin, or under the heart, with a punch that would win me back the heavyweight championship of the world? There was no good reason to suppose such a thing unreasonable. I felt that I could hit Gene; felt that I could plan out a campaign of battle that sooner or later would bring him to me for that one lovely punch.
Aside from the money that would establish Tunney and myself as the greatest financial figures boxing had ever produced, I was a comparatively rich young man when these problems presented themselves. I could have retired then as easily as I retired later, and lived on my income. So it was not entirely money by which I was actuated. There was — and I do not say it sentimentally — an appreciation and a love for the sport of boxing which superseded in my calculations every financial angle. I think, perhaps, I was a big kid who had lost a toy and wanted to fight to get it back again. In any event, I told Tex Rickard to match us and I promised myself that I would give Gene Tunney a whole lot better fight than I had given him that rainy night in Philadelphia.
There was nothing between me and retirement other than a determination on my part to satisfy that hankering wonderment as to my own condition. On the other hand, I knew perfectly well that Gene Tunney was a fine fighter and a whole lot better than the public has ever given him credit for being.
There lay the problem. I knew that my win over Sharkey indicated that I was in fair physical condition. I felt that a good training siege would put me back in excellent condition. Furthermore, I was perfectly certain that when I was in condition, the man did not live who could box me 10 rounds without at some time or other being hit on a vital spot. I knew perfectly well, as I have said, that anyone I hit on a vital spot was very apt to be counted out. That was my bet on the Tunney fight at Chicago.
I believed that the worst I had was a chance to regain the championship, and that is exactly the right percentage for a great fight. I went to Chicago to train. Leo Flynn once again took charge of my training and acted in the capacity of chief adviser. I think that most of the fellows who realized my condition before the first Tunney contest favored me to win over Tunney in the second. There were all sorts of rumors floating about my camp to the effect that the gamblers had everything set against me once again.
This time I did not easily fall for those rumors. But I also had seen enough of Gene Tunney to know that it was not in his mind or his heart to fake a championship prizefight. This absolute confidence in Gene gave me the greatest weapon I had to use against the fixers who later approached me. It is not easy to sit here and write these details. I feel that I must do it, however, in justice to myself and in justice to Gene Tunney. I have often hoped, to be truthful about it, that Gene would write his life experiences. I certainly would like to read them and get the other side of our two contests.
In my own relation of events, I have stated the absolute and simple truth just as closely as I know how. I know that Gene would do the same thing. Out of a contrast of the two stories a pretty situation ought to develop. I positively was approached by people in Chicago. I laughed in their faces for a good many reasons, the principal ones of which I am going to relate.
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They are so obvious and so indisputable that none can deny them. First, I refused because I had planned a careful campaign against Gene Tunney and believed that I could beat him on the level. Second, I never would trust anybody who would take or give a bribe. Third, I have never faked a fight in my life and I never will. Fourth, even if I did lose my head and pay such a craven bribe, I knew nobody could fix Gene Tunney, and Gene Tunney was the man I had to fight. Next, despite the advice of some people who harassed Leo Flynn and myself, I felt that my coming contest with Gene was the last I ever would fight, win, lose or draw.
If I won, I planned to retire undefeated.