"From the small boy to big man on campus." These phrases have been used to describe thousands of people across the world who have defied the odds and made themselves into successful celebrities. But only the third phrase fits the one man that accomplished this task: Jack Dempsey. Known under many monikers (The Manassas Mauler, Kid Blackie, The Hobo Warrior), Dempsey would compile one of the greatest records in boxing history. Fighting a total of 80 official fights( not including over 50 exhibitions after his retirement), he won 60, lost six, drew eight, and won over 80 percent by way of knockout. He also participated in many historical bouts, fighting with the likes of Jess Willard, Jack Sharkey, Gene Tunnney, Gunboat Smith, and Jim Flynn. He even bankrupted the town of Shelby, Montana in 1925 when fighting Tom Gibbons. But it all started back in a small mining town in Colorado.
William Harrison Dempsey was born on June 24, 1895 in Manassa, Colorado. One of eleven children, Dempsey didn't really have that much of a childhood. He spent his time working mostly with his father in the coal mines, making just enough money to get by. At the age of 16, Dempsey left home and traveled on freight trains as a hobo, where he usually found refuge in small mining towns. From 1911 to 1916, as a hobo, Dempsey fought numerous times under his first boxing nickname, "Kid Blackie". His first fight ever, in 1912, was a KO over Fred "The Fighting Blacksmith" Wood. He even kayoed his future manager, Andy Malloy, later that year. Since these fights were not historically recorded, it is said that he probably fought well over 100 fights before his real career began. But it would be under the guidance of his main manager, Doc Kearns, and promoter, Tex Rickard, that the "Manassa Mauler" would become in one word: legendary.
With Tex and Doc by his side, Dempsey would go on a path of destruction. Before his championship match with Jess Willard, he would win 30 fights with twenty coming by way of knockout.