Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Travel Tuesday (January 7, 2014) - The Trip To "The Long Count Fight"

In September 1927 my paternal grandparents, Arnold G. Tew, Sr. and Huldah A. (Hasselbaum) Tew, decided to take a road trip with another couple in my grandfather's car.  They drove from Rhode Island to Chicago to see the World Heavyweight title rematch of Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney at Soldier Field.  This photograph was apparently taken in a roadside field or meadow during a stop along the way.

The fight became famous as "The Long Count Fight" after Dempsey, who was once again favored over Gene Tunney, The Fighting Marine, lost as 104,943 spectators looked on. 

New, but not yet universal, knockout rules had been negotiated for the fight so that a fighter who was knocked down had 10 seconds -- after his opponent had first removed to a neutral corner (meaning one with no trainers in it) -- to get back up under his unassisted power . Dempsey had a habit of standing near and over his opponent so that if he got back up after being knocked down Dempsey was right there to immediately resume the attack.  Since he was not used to the new rules, when he staggered and dropped Tunney in the seventh round for the first time in Tunney's career, Dempsey hung over him for 3 to 8 seconds before the referee could get Dempsey to go to a neutral corner. As a result Tunney, who has been truly stunned by a flurry of punches from Dempsey, had about 13 seconds total from the time he went down until he stood after Dempsey finally went to a neutral corner. Tunney recovered from the knockdown and, in turn, floored Dempsey in the eighth round. The referee started the count right away and before Tunney had moved to a neutral corner, but Dempsey regained his feet.  The fight went the final two rounds and Tunney dominated. In the end, Tunney retained his title when he defeated Dempsey in a unanimous decision.

I have no evidence that my grandparents were boxing fans to any degree, but the Dempsey-Tunney rematch was a very big event in 1927 and probably attracted adventurous young adults in the same way that rock festivals would later sweep up young men and women four decades later.  It was a road trip that promised adventure and the spectacle of what was sure to be an epic fight.  The fight was the first $1 million gate and the first $2 million gate at the same time (equivalent to some $22 million today).

The trip certainly had some adventure and must have made for some great stories to recount in later years.  The next photograph, which is taken from the other side of the car, provides evidence for the  basis of what was surely one of many stories the travelers recounted after their return.

Bill Reilly, a friend of my grandparents and a fellow traveler,
shown changing the tire on their car.

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Photographs from the collection of the author.

For more details on the 1927 Dempsey-Tunney "Long Count" rematch, see "The Long Count Fight" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Count_Fight .
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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1 comment:

  1. Enjoyable post and I see how much you look like your grandfather. I'm always amazed at how many photos people took, especially when they had to pay for the development. Seems all older pictures are sharp with stylish people always smiling and posing...there is always a story in them.