By Scoop Malinowski
The book “Dempsey” authored by Jack and his daughter Barbara Piattelli Dempsey is chock full of anecdotes and revelations. One revelation regarding gangster Al Capone particularly stands out.
On page 217, Dempsey drops the bombshell that his pal Capone, wanted to influence the outcome of the Dempsey vs. Tunney 1927 rematch: “Chicago’s Al Capone, to whom I was still The Hero, let the word out that he had enough dough and influence spread around to make sure I would win. Not wanting Scarface to do anything I might regret, I sent him a short, handwritten note asking him to lay off and let the fight go on in true sportsmanship. If I beat Tunney, or Tunney beat me, it would only prove who really deserved to be champion. I didn’t hear a word in reply, but the next day (wife) Estelle (Taylor) received what must have been $200 worth of flowers, with a card signed simply, ‘To the Dempseys, in the name of sportsmanship.'”
Tunney of course won the decision vs. Dempsey in the famous “Long Count” fight in Chicago Stadium in front of an estimated 100,000 people, a controversial duel in which Tunney ahead on the judges scorecards, was knocked down in the seventh round but Dempsey did not follow the new rule change to immediately walk to a neutral corner, thus delaying the referee’s count. Ring observers argued the true count varied from ten to twenty seconds, giving Tunney extra time to recover. Tunney got up at the count of nine.
The interesting aspect about Capone having the serious intent to manipulate a world heavyweight title fight is you have wonder how many times this has happened again? How many more megalomaniacs, hustlers, crooks and fraudsters have also attempted to fix a major prizefight? Is it a lot more common than anyone realizes? Or was this incident the only time in boxing history such a conspiracy has been attempted? How many times were famous champions unable to defy corruption like Jack Dempsey was, to reject or discourage organized cheating from ruining a super fight?
One thing is fore sure, these questions will not be discussed by the mainstream boxing or sports media!