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"He's the toughest machine
I ever built." --Coach Izzy
IzzyDuzItFitness at Extreme Kung Fu Chicago

Below, featured boxing book review:
  Jack Dempsey, Championship Fighting
      (February 2020)

Jack Dempsey, Championship Fighting. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1950. $17.
The subtitle of Jack Dempsey's book is "Explosive punching and aggressive defense." You won't find "aggressive defense" mentioned in other boxing books, but the paradox suits this great boxer's style. The book is much more than a "how to box" book. It offers a brief account of Dempsey's long and varied life (1895-1983), which links the roaring 1920s and America's frontier past. This connection is elaborated in Kasia Boddy's discussion of Dempsey in Boxing: A Cultural History.

Dempsey grew up in Manassa, in southern Colorado, with two brothers who were fighters. They started training him on defense when he was seven years old.

One of the young boy's responses to his brothers' tutoring was to write down what they said, a clue to this boxer's success that is rarely noticed. "I jotted down every detail of those instructions," Dempsey says, and he added to it whatever occurred to him when he practiced what he had been taught (p. 15). This habit stayed with him as he matured. His writing traces what he calls his "mental journey" from Manassa to Toledo, the site of his great victory over Jess Willard in 1919, when Dempsey was just 24 and tells us a lot about who Dempsey was as a man.

Dempsey's writing habit struck his business manager, Max Waxman, as odd. No doubt others who were aware of it also thought it was peculiar for a boxer to make notes. Waxman said, "What are you writing down all that junk for? You're supposed to be a memory expert" (p. 17). But Dempsey knew what he was doing in this regard and many others. He knew that writing helped fix things in the brain.

For more of this review, and for reviews of other boxing books, go to this page ||.

February 2020