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Bridge & Humor: Gene & Jack By Jack Dempsey

Ottawa Citizen – 2 Sep 1927 BY JACK DEMPSEY, Former Heavyweight Champion. 

Gene Tunney (right) fighting Jack Dempsey, 1927.
Gene Tunney (right) fighting Jack Dempsey, 1927.

Extracted from: GENE AND JACK: Present and Former Heavyweight Champions Give The Evening Citizen Fight Fans the «Low Down» on Their Coming Battle at Chicago on Sept. 22nd.

Not so long ago I sat behind a friend of mine who was playing a game of bridge. He’s rated as one of the stars; plays brilliantly and almost always perfectly. Yet that time he played a sad sort of game. Everything broke against him in the way of luck; almost everything he tried to do he did wrong. Nothing went right for him. As a result, this fellow and his partner were beaten by a pair of men who were not figured to be in—or anywhere near—their class.

After the game was done, we all sat around a while and chatted and finally my friend said to me:

«Jack. I’ll never be able to figure out your bad showing against Tunney in Philadelphia.»

My answer was. «Nor will I be able to explain your bad showing at bridge today.»

He replied: «Well, that’s easy for me to explain. I never got a lucky break all through the games. Furthermore, everything I tried to do—or did- was all wrong. A fellow playing bridge gets into such a rut every once in a while.»

«And a fighter gets into a rut, too.» I said. «You excuse your defeat by a couple of inferior bridge players tonight by saying that you didnt have much luck and you couldn’t get going right; that you started wrong and the further you played the worse you played. «Now, that’s pretty much the same explanation for my showing in the Tunney fight in Philadelphia. Luck is an element that figures in about everything we do. We all need our share to win or to be a success. I didn’t get a lucky break all during those ten rounds with Tunney. I threw a dozen punches with enough power in them to drop Tunney. But all of them missed—by a fraction of an inch.

«But let’s forget the luck thing. Let’s forget that I Just wasn’t feeling right. Let’s just look at the fight itself. without any specific alibi. «I got away to a bad start: couldn’t; do anything right in the first round.’ I thought I’d get going in the second —but didn’t. Then I figured I’d start operating on Tunney’s chin and boot’ , in the third. But I didn’t. «Everything I tried went wrong. I used the old shift. But I was slow with It. I straightened up in my style of fighting— and Tunney smacked me. I crouched —and he smacked , me. I crowded him—and he hit me. I kept changing my style, try my to shift, trying to hit short punches, then long ones—and everything I did was all wrong.

«I shot for Tunney’s chin in the fourth—and missed it. The blow hit him in the Adam’s apple. I dropped him against the ropes. And then, when I had him in a bad way, I gummed things still thither for myself by stopping to think: ‘What punch will I hit him with to finish him?’

‘Before I could make up my mind, Tunney was off the ropes—and the golden chance was gone. «The further the fight went the worse I got. I couldn’t do anything right in the first round and I did everything worse as the fight went along. There was any coordination of eye, mind and muscle.

«You and your partner figured to beat those two fellows you played at bridge tonight. You were beaten – and there’s no real alibi for you fellows except that you didn’t have your share of luck and that you couldn’t get started. I figured to beat Tunney , in Philadelphia—and you know what happened. «It may be that Tunney is my master at all , under all circumstances. But if I get a 50-50 break luck in Chicago and can fight my fight well, I think I will prove that any such idea is all wrong.»


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