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Thread: Jack 'The Red' Dempsey

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    Default Jack 'The Red' Dempsey

    There is a mad myth that Jack Dempsey the famous heavyweight champion of the 1920s was a member of Big Jim Larkin's Irish Workers League and a delegate to the Communist International!

    It is referred to I think in a book by Emmet O'Connor 'Reds and the Green' (otherwise excellent book btw) and I saw it repeated recently on some micro leftie site. It is also referenced on Wikipedia and other online biographies of Dempsey.

    Amazing that such myths grow legs and become 'history'!

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    Gimpanzee
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seanie Lemass View Post
    There is a mad myth that Jack Dempsey the famous heavyweight champion of the 1920s was a member of Big Jim Larkin's Irish Workers League and a delegate to the Communist International!

    It is referred to I think in a book by Emmet O'Connor 'Reds and the Green' (otherwise excellent book btw) and I saw it repeated recently on some micro leftie site. It is also referenced on Wikipedia and other online biographies of Dempsey.

    Amazing that such myths grow legs and become 'history'!

    I heard a corroborating story. Apparently Dempsey got a terrible toothache one time while speaking at a commie student gathering in Trinity and Socrates couldn't fix his teeth because he was off collecting his Sigerson Cup medal.

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    Politics.ie Member MacO'velli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gimpanzee View Post
    I heard a corroborating story. Apparently Dempsey got a terrible toothache one time while speaking at a commie student gathering in Trinity and Socrates couldn't fix his teeth because he was off collecting his Sigerson Cup medal.
    Sounds undeniable so.

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    Just checked the National Library Catalogue and they have attributed a letter by the Irish Communist Jack Dempsey to 'the boxer' Jack Dempsey

    Now, a lot of people would not know who Jack Demspey is today but in 1928, when he was allegedly representing the Irish communists in Moscow, he was probably one of the ten most famous people in the English speaking world!

    It would be the equivalent of Usain Bolt being a member of the Brixton Workers Revolutionary Party.

    Zelig stuff. And retailed by people who accuse others of not being historians

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    Jack Dempsey the boxer did not think of himself as being Irish at all as far as anyone can make out - unlike Gene Tunney, Jim Braddock and others - and was never in Ireland. At the time he was supposed to be representing the Irish Communists in Moscow - in 1928 the year after he had lost the famous rematch to Tunney - he was actually starring in a Broadway show called The Big Fight with his movie star wife Estelle Taylor. It was later made into a film that year. No doubt Dempsey flew back to Hollywood with requests from Stalin and the boys for autographs of Charlie Chaplin!
    He also spent a lot of time hanging around the White House. As Comintern delegates do


    Anyway. The Dublin Communist Jack Dempsey was a member of the Workers Union of Ireland and also a member of the IRA. He was later involved in the founding of the Revolutionary Workers Groups which became the CPI in 1933. He never, as far as we know, won the world heavyweight boxing championship. All documented in Treacy's history of the CPI.

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    Politics.ie Member MacO'velli's Avatar
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    I sometimes mix him up with Jack Doyle,Doyle once famously said in an interview “I sing like John McCormack and box like Jack Dempsey.” This came back to haunt him years later in New York when World Champion Dempsey told the press, “I believe Jack Doyle sings like me and boxes like John McCormack.”

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    Politics.ie Member MacO'velli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macbar37 View Post
    Yes I actually met the Gorgeous Gael in Pettycoat Lane in London in the mid 70's. Do you know who I am was his greeting before he would nearly brake your hand with a shake. In a way it was kind of sad to see this man almost beg for a few bob that I was told then he would go spend in the pub. My uncle told me where he would be at a certain time so it wasn't by chance I met him. He didn't tap me though but I think he was kinda chuffed that a teenager recognized him. I got a great laugh out of your story I wonder what answer did he give back as he was fairly handy with his tongue also.
    Yeah he was a character alright, my Dad(from Galway) was staying in Dublin in the 40's and was around when Jack and Movita were in town, he said there was nothing in Ireland like them at the time, he said it was like having the beatles move to your town lock stock and barrel.
    I think they got married about then but Jack started boozing heavily and also started hitting Movita, He also got into a few scrapes with the Gardai and on one occasion hit a detective in a pub in Ranalagh and did two weeks in Mountjoy.

    Dempsey on the other hand was no slouch and managed his money and career well after the boxing life. I think he wrote a number of Books, was involved in some other projects, and served as a Lieutenant Commander in The USCG during the war, and I think may have been present when the US took Okinawa.

    For two immensely successful Boxers, Their lives ended in radically different ways, apparently Doyles body lay unclaimed in a London hospital for a week before it was claimed and returned to Cobh.

    Actually one of his quips when asked about how he lost all his money was "Because I spent most of it on slow horses and fast women" !!
    Last edited by MacO'velli; 22nd March 2013 at 12:24 PM.

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    Politics.ie Member Oppenheimer's Avatar
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    Nice to know that even Communists can aspire to own nice things...... themotorclub21.com
    We are "they"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oppenheimer View Post
    Nice to know that even Communists can aspire to own nice things...... themotorclub21.com



    That's the car he drove Stalin to Croker for the 1928 All Ireland final in. Stalin was a bit annoyed because his mother was a Brady from Butlersbridge and he was refused a pint in the Auld Triangle afterwards.


    Dempsey did very well and had a long healthy life for a heavyweight of the era. He owned a famous bar/restaurant near Times Square where the New York sportswriters like Jimmy Cannon hung out, as did many other famous people. It featured in a scene in The Godfather. Went looking for it a few years ago and was directed to a 'Jack Dempseys' two blocks from the Empire State but it is not the original. Awful celtic soccer bar in fact
    Last edited by Seanie Lemass; 22nd March 2013 at 12:43 PM.

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