Boxing in the 1920s

Boxing in the 1920s

Professional boxing in the 1920s was an exceptionally popular international sport. Many fights during this era, some 20 years away or so from the television era, were social events with many thousands in attendance, both men and women.

World Heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey was an important fighter of this era. He won the title in 1919, keeping it until 1926. He lost the title to Gene Tunney in 1926, but many of his fights were historic, such as his defenses against Georges Carpentier, Luis Firpo and Tom Gibbons, a fight which almost left the town of Shelby, Montana bankrupt. His 1927 rematch against Tunney became known in boxing history as "The Long Count Fight". Dempsey became a household name, and he dated and married Hollywood actresses. He was, along with Babe Ruth, Red Grange, Bill Tilden and Bobby Jones, one of the so-called "Big five of sports".

Other important boxers included Benny Lynch and "Panama Al Brown". the first hispanic to be a world champion.

Because airlines lacked the structured schedules of the modern days, many boxers had to make their way to important fights by train.

In 1921, the National Boxing Association was formed. It was the predecessor of what is known now as the WBA. Tex Rickard was the leading promoter of the day, and he has been compared to P.T. Barnum and Don King. Ray Arcel was one of boxing's most well known trainers; he would retire as a trainer during this decade and then return fifty years later, to train Roberto Duran for his first fight against Sugar Ray leonard.

List of fights


*September 6- Jack Dempsey retains his world Heavyweight title with a third round knockout over personal friend Billy Miske, at Benton Harbor. Dempsey later learned his friend was dying of Bright's disease, and only accepted the fight to garner money for his children.
*October 11- Georges Carpentier becomes world Light-Heavyweight champion, defeating "Battling Levinsky" by a knockout in four rounds, at Jersey City.
*November 26- Benny Leonard retains the world Lightweight championship, with a fourteen round knockout over Joe Welling, in New York.
*December 21- Joe Lynch wins the world Bantamweight title with a fifteen round decision win over Pete Herman, at New York.


*January 14- Benny Leonard retains the world Lightweight title with a sixth round knockout of Richie Mitchell, at New York. Leonard suffered a first round knockdown, during which his mother fainted.
*February 7- Jack Britton retains the world Welterweight title with a fifteen round decision over "Ted Kid Lewis", at New York.
*July 2- In boxing's first million dollar fight in history, (and the year's most anticipated bout) Jack Dempsey retains the world Heavyweight championship with a fourth round knockout over world Light-Heavyweight champion Georges Carpentier in Jersey City. The public paid an overall total of $1,789,238 dollars at the ticket gates.
*July 25- In a rematch of their 1920 bout, Pete Herman regains the world Bantamweight title with a fifteen round decision over Joe Lynch, in New York.
*July 27- Johnny Wilson retains the world Middleweight title with a seventh round disqualification win over William Bryan Downey, at Cleveland.


*February 10- Benny Leonard retains his world Lightweight title, with a fifteen round decision over "Rocky Kansas", at New York.
*June 11- Georges Carpentier retains his world Light-Heavyweight title with a first round knockout of "Ted Kid Lewis", at London.
*June 26- Jack Britton retains his world Welterweight title with a thirteenth round disqualification of Benny Leonard, at New York.
*September 24- "Battling Siki" becomes Senegal's first world boxing champion, recuperating from several knockdowns to win the world Light-Heavyweight title by knocking out Georges Carpentier in six rounds at Paris, France. Siki also became Africa's first world Light-Heavyweight champion in the process.
*November 1- "Mickey The Bulldog Walker" becomes world Welterweight champion, defeating Jack Britton by a fifteen round decision, at New York.


*March 17- Mike McTigue of Ireland wins the world Light-Heavyweight title with a twenty round decision over "Battling Siki", in Dublin, Ireland.
*May 30- Jack Bernstein wins the world Jr. Lightweight title with a fifteen round decision over Johnny Dundee, at New York.
*June 2- French Eugene Criqui, who had sustained a shot on his mouth during World War I action, becomes the world Featherweight champion, beating Johnny Kilbane by a sixth round knockout in New York. Doctors had told Criqui he would never fight again after he was shot.
*June 18- Pancho Villa becomes the Philippines first world boxing champion in history, knocking out world Flyweight champion Jimmy Wilde in seven rounds, at New York.
*July 4- In one of boxing's most economically disastrous fights, Jack Dempsey retained his world Heavyweight crown with a fifteen round decision over Tommy Gibbons in Shelby, Montana. Dempsey's manager, Jack Kearns, had requested for the champion to be paid $300,000 dollars, an amount that the 2,000 residents of Shelby could barely come up with. As a result, Shelby was declared bankrupt at the time.
*July 23- Benny Leonard retains the world Lightweight title with a fifteen round decision over Lew Tendler in New York.
*September 14- In one of boxing's most famous fights, Luis Firpo of Argentina comes within a second of becoming the first hispanic world Heavyweight champion in history, dropping Jack Dempsey out of the ring and for a nine second count, but Firpo is himself dropped ten times as Dempsey retains the crown with a second round knockout, in New York.
*December 17- Johnny Dundee recovers the world Jr. Lightweight title, with a fifteen round decision over Jack Bernstein, in their New York rematch.


*January 18- Harry Greb regains the world Light-Heavyweight championship, with a fifteen round unanimous decision over champion Johnny Wilson, at New York.
*March 21- Abe Goldstein, a newspaper writer turned boxer, wins the world Bantamweight title, with a fifteen round decision over Joe Lynch, at New York.
*June 2- Mickey Walker retains the world Welterweight title, with a ten round decision over Lew Tendler, in Philadelphia.
*August 1- world Lightweight champion Benny Leonard fights to a ten round no-decision with Pat Moran in a non-title bout at New York in what would be, at his mother's request, his last fight until 1931.


*May 1- In what would turn out to be his last victory, Pancho Villa retains the world Flyweight title with a fifteen round decision over Clever Sencio, in Manila, Philippines.
*July 2- Harry Greb retains the world Middleweight title with a fifteen round decision against world Welterweight champion Mickey Walker, in New York.
*July 4- Fighting with an ulcerated tooth (without knowledge of the extense of his illness), Pancho Villa drops a ten round decision to Jimmy McLarnin in New York.
*July 14- Pancho Villa passes away from blood poisoning, in Manila.
*August 27- Louis Kaplan retains the world Bantamweight title with a fifteen round draw (tie) against Babe Herman, in Waterbury.
*December 18- Louis Kaplan and Babe Herman fight for the second time of the year, with Kaplan retaining the world Bantamweight title with a fifteen round decision, at New York.


*September 23- After seven years at the top, Heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey is defeated by top contender Gene Tunney.


*September 22- Heavyweight champion Gene Tunney again defeats contender Jack Dempsey in the famous battle known as The Long Count Fight.
*October 7- Light Heavyweight Champion of the World Mike McTigue is defeated by top contender Tommy Loughran.
*December 12- Light Heavyweight Champion Tommy Loughran defeats Jimmy Slattery for the NBA Light Heavyweight Championship of the World.


*July 31- In an unprecedented move, Heavyweight Champion Gene Tunney retires from the ring, vacating the Heavyweight title after defeating Tom Heeney. Unlike James Jeffries before him, Tunney never returned to the ring.
*September 26- The National Boxing Association Heavyweight championship's vacancy is filled when Jack Sharkey defeats Tommy Loughran to take the title. Sharkey's title was not universally recognized, and in 1930 he would be defeated by Max Schmeling for the undisputed title.


*September- Light Heavyweight Champion Tommy Loughran relinquished the Light Heavyweight Championship of the World title undefeated in order to fight as a heavyweight.

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