Jack Dempsey

The heavyweight champ with more 1st-round knockouts than any boxer in history came to Wayne County the first time to visit a friend and the second time to referee two fights and to get a shave.

Jack Demspey was born on June 24, 1895 in Manassa, Colorado and grew up in a poor family of mixed Irish origin. In 1919 he knocked out Jess Willard and from then on held the world heavyweight title between 1919 and 1926.

In his last successful title defense in 1923 he was knocked head first through the ring ropes, landing on a reporter's typewriter, yet he won by a 2nd round KO.

He retired in 1927 and boxed countless exhibition bouts.

The May 16, 1929 Evening Item advised, “If one of your friends comes up and says, I saw Jack Dempsey in Richmond yesterday, don’t dispute their word.”

The former boxer dropped by the Murray Theatre [Richmond Civic Theatre] shortly before noon on May 15th to visit members of the traveling Lewis Mack Company. Mack and Dempsey had hoboed together and were fast friends.

Dempsey returned to Wayne County on August 29, 1938 at the request of the Hagerstown Business Association. He was a guest speaker at a special dinner at the Hartley Hills Country Club and got a shave at Phil Haisley’s barber shop. He later appeared in Richmond to referee three prizefight matches and afterwards signed autographs, hoisting children up and posing with his unusually large fists, fists that had knocked out more 1st-round opponents than anyone else in boxing history.




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June 19, 2012