RARE Jack Dempsey vs Tommy Gibbons 1923 World heavyweight title official souvenir gold medallion, complete with original pin and ribbon, 4th July 1923, Arena, Shelby, Montana.
The medallion is inscribed around the circumference "Dempsey - Gibbons. July 4 1923 - Shelby, Mont. Championship - Oil City." Measuring 1 1/4" in diameter.
Condition very good (minor wear to the ribbon)
Dempsey W Pts over 15 rounds
This fight is best known for almost bankrupting the town of Shelby, Montana, which borrowed heavily to stage it. There were no knockdowns or high points in the fight. Dempsey pummelled away at Gibbons's body and piled up enough points to win but, after a two-year layoff, he didn't display the punch or ferocity for which he was famed. Also, the clever Gibbons made him miss many punches, but lacked the power to hurt Dempsey.
Jack Dempsey vs Tommy Gibbons - 4th July 1923
Jack Dempsey was one of America's first great sports heroes. His savage style captivated the public and made him as popular a figure as Babe Ruth or Red Grange.
In the ring, Dempsey was equipped with a two-fisted attack. He boxed out of a low crouch, bobbing, weaving and bombing. He continually stalked the man in front of him and was an unrelenting and remorseless warrior.
His power was so prodigious that he once scored knockouts in 14 and 18 seconds. In his 78-bout career, Dempsey compiled 49 knockouts, with 25 of them in the first round.
Born William Harrison Dempsey in Manassa Colorado, Dempsey was one of 11 children. He left home at the age of 16 and traveled the west on freight trains with hobos, settling occasionally in mining towns. It was during that period of his life that Dempsey learned how to fight as a means of survival. Dempsey's career turned around when he met manager Jack "Doc" Kearns. Under Kearns, Dempsey knocked out Fireman Jim Flynn, Fred Fulton, former light heavyweight titlist Battling Levinsky and Gunboat Smith.
On July 4, 1919, Dempsey challenged heavyweight champion Jess Willard at an outdoor arena in Toledo, Ohio. Temperatures in the ring reached 100 degrees that day. Willard was beaten to the canvas seven times in the first round. There was nothing artistic about Dempsey's attack. It was pure rage. The fight ended when Willard failed to answer the bell for the fourth round.
Dempsey made easy title defences against Billy Miske, Bill Brennan, Georges Carpentier Tommy Gibbons. The Carpentier fight generated boxing's first million-dollar gate.
On September 14, 1923, another chapter was added to the Dempsey legend. He faced Argentina's Luis Angel Firpo at the Polo Grounds in New York. Known as the "Wild Bull of the Pampas," Firpo was dropped seven times in the first round. But before the stanza ended, the challenger sent Dempsey through the ropes with a single right hand, silencing the 80,000 in attendance. Dempsey made it back into the ring and beat the 10-count. The fight ended 57 seconds into the second round with Dempsey a knockout winner.
Dempsey was inactive in 1924 and '25 and put his title on the line against Gene Tunney in 1926. At 31, Dempsey fell behind on points and was never able to change the momentum.
In July of 1927, Dempsey knocked out future champion Jack Sharkey in the seventh-round (the knockout blow was setup by a punch that landed low). Two months later, Dempsey met Tunney at Chicago's Soldier Field. The fight drew a crowd of 104,943, generating a gate of $2,658,660. Tunney was again outboxing Dempsey when he was dropped in the seventh round.
Before the fight, it was agreed upon that after a knockdown, the fighter scoring the knockdown would go to a neutral corner. But when Tunney hit the canvas, Dempsey hovered over the fallen champ, ignoring the referee's order that he retreat a neutral corner. By the time Dempsey was ushered across the ring and the referee began his count, it is estimated that Tunney had 14 seconds to recover. Tunney got up and won the fight by decision, but the long-count controversy would remain etched in boxing history.
Dempsey retired after the Tunney fight but remained a popular figure until his death in 1983.
Like his older brother Mike, Tommy Gibbons is best remembered for a fight in which he kept a champion at bay. Widely acknowledged as a stellar fighter in several weight classes, Gibbons held his own with heavyweight king Jack Dempsey and was knocked out only once in his career.
Gibbons learned to box at the YMCA in his hometown of St. Paul. He turned professional at the age of twenty and recorded knockouts in his first three fights. At the start of his career, Gibbons fought as a welterweight. As he added weight, he moved up in class until he eventually contended for the heavyweight title. Gibbons battled Hall of Famer Harry Greb four times from 1915 to 1922, losing the only one of the four bouts in which a decision was rendered. He also fought multiple bouts with George ("K.O.") Brown, Joe Herrick, George Chip, Gus Christie, Silent Martin, Billy Miske, Clay Turner, Burt Kenny, and Chuck Wiggins. Only Miske beat Gibbons, and he won on a foul.
Initially, Gibbons was famed for his speed and boxing ability. However, as he gained weight, he developed a more powerful punch. In 1921, Gibbons won 21 fights by knockouts, with ten of them coming in the first round. Although not all of the victories were against top competition, Gibbons succeeded in making enough of a name for himself to earn a shot at Dempsey's heavyweight title.
The title fight took place in Shelby, Montana. The city fathers wanted to put the town on the map by hosting a heavyweight championship bout. Jack Kearns, Dempsey's manager, agreed to have his fighter perform there if Dempsey were paid $310,000. Kearns also insisted on using his own referee, James Dougherty. Gibbons, hungry for the championship, agreed to be paid beyond expenses only if there were money left over after Dempsey's cut. Dempsey got paid, but because the fight drew only about 7,000 spectators, Gibbons received nothing. In fact, the fight was a financial disaster for Shelby and three banks failed as a result of backing the fiasco.
Still, it was a good fight. Dempsey hit Gibbons with some solid shots, notably in the eleventh and fifteenth rounds, but Gibbons parried and slipped away from punches that would have scored against a less-accomplished fighter. It was later rumored that Kearns told Dempsey to be sure to go a full fifteen rounds so that his agent could get out of town with Dempsey's purse before the local promoters reconsidered. The stories surrounding the fight do little to diminish Gibbons's achievement; most observers believed that he could not have been knocked out under any circumstances.
It took Dempsey's nemesis, Gene Tunney, to finally stop Gibbons. In a fight in 1925, Tunney dropped Gibbons in the twelfth round. It was the first and only time he was knocked out. Gibbons then retired, never having won a championship. In retirement, he sold insurance and served four terms as sheriff of St Paul.