Dempsey Ready to Resume Business as Ring Champion

Westbrook Pegler

Chicago Tribune/December 31, 1928

New York, Dec. 30.–Old Mr. Dempsey, the broken down prize fighter, apparently has agreed to resume the heavyweight championship at the end of the heavyweight elimination bouts, series of 1928-29. He is reported to be on his way to Miami Beach at this time to do anything he can toward stimulating the customer demand for the proposed bout between Jack (Rin Tin-Tin-ear) Sharkey of Boston and Willie Stribling, the inveterate schoolboy of Macon, Ga.

When this one is out of the way these two boys will be paired and cross-paired with other heavyweights on the regular Rickard staff and the whole program will work up to a more or less grand finale late next summer, in which Mr. Dempsey will fight the best, or the least worst of the lot, and win.

This will make Dempsey the champion again and that will be a terrible reflection on the championship, because Mr. Dempsey himself said not long ago that he was a confirmed has-been as early as 1926, when he lost the championship to Mr. Tunney.

Tex Boosting Florida.

In the absence of any other apparent justification for the Sharkey-Stribling transaction at Miami Beach, one is led to suspect that Mr. Rickard is putting this one on down there merely to help along the revival of the real estate and tourist business of that community in which he now holds citizenship and property.

The mere mention of the plan served to place the name of Miami Beach in the newspaper datelines a couple of weeks and the wrangling over terms and officials, bandages, and the interpretation of the knockdown rule will keep this sort of thing going intermittently until the boys finally step into the ring at the dog track along toward the end of February.

This is not real wrangling, but something that might better be called shadow wrangling, for the boys and their managers and Mr. Rickard all understand that the disputes are raised and argued purely in a spirit of helpfulness.

When there is a real wrangle over some point such as the selection of a referee, the business is so grim that the sportsmen concerned in the choice forget to call up the papers. As I recall the incidents leading up to the Dempsey-Tunney uplift in Chicago, there was little or nothing said for publication regarding the selection of the referee, although subsequent confessions and memoirs have revealed that the wrangle in this case was almost homicidal at times.

I also see a new and strange significance now in the visit which I received from a persuasive young man in Chicago who called for the purpose of arguing the sterling honor and professional merits of one of the candidates for the referee’s host. He wished me to get behind his candidate in a big aggressive way and campaign for him as the people’s choice or something of that nature.

Recalls Chicago Incident

I could only reply that to the best of my judgment, the people’s interests would be best served by an emergency session of the legislature to relegate this fight back to the true and natural status of prize fighting, which was regarded as a felonious practice until a previous legislature divorced it by special enactment from its ethical communion with safe blowing, porch climbing. and blackmail.

Subsequently I was glad of my decision, for one of the principals in the uplift work told me that this candidate went to the other principal, got on his knees, raised his right hand and swore: ” If I am in the center when you boys fight you will leave the ring champion of the world.”

At this I could only exclaim: “Heavens. can such things be!”

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