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Gene Tunney

Gene Tunney
Portrait of Tunney
Statistics
Real name James Joseph Tunney
Nickname(s) The Fighting Marine
Rated at Light heavyweight
Heavyweight
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Reach 77 in (196 cm)
Nationality American
Born (1897-05-25)May 25, 1897
New York, New York
Died November 7, 1978(1978-11-07) (aged 81)
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 68
Wins 65
Wins by KO 48
Losses 1
Draws 1
No contests 1

James Joseph "Gene" Tunney (May 25, 1897 – November 7, 1978) was an American professional boxer and the world heavyweight champion from 1926–28. Having defeated Jack Dempsey twice, first in 1926 and then in 1927, Tunney's successful title defense against Dempsey remains one of the most famous bouts in boxing history and is known as The Long Count Fight. Tunney retired as an undefeated heavyweight after his victory over Tom Heeney in 1928. Tunney was named Ring magazine fighter of the year in 1928.

Contents

  • Biography 1
  • Death 2
  • Fighting style 3
  • Publications 4
  • Cultural references 5
  • Professional boxing record 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Biography

Mary Lydon from Culleen House, Gorthgarve, Kiltimagh, County Mayo, Ireland, emigrated to the United States after the Great Famine. She settled in New York City where she met John Tunney, also from Cill Aodain, Kiltimagh. They married after a short courtship. The Tunneys had seven children; one son was murdered around 1920, another was a NYPD Detective from 1924 to 1951, dying in 1971, while Gene would become famous as a World Heavyweight Boxing Champion.

Tunney fought some 68 official professional fights, losing only one, to Georges Carpentier and many other fine boxers.

Already the U.S. Expeditionary Forces champion, Tunney spent the winter of 1921 as a lumberjack in northern Ontario for the J. R. Booth Company of Ottawa, without revealing he was a champion boxer. He explained this as "wanting the solitude and the strenuous labors of the woods to help condition himself for the career that appeared before him."[1]

Tunney also had a brief acting career, starring in the movie The Fighting Marine in 1926. Unfortunately, no prints of this film are known to exist.

He was elected as Ring Magazine's first-ever Fighter of the Year in 1928 and later elected to the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1980, the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990 and the United States Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.

Tunney in Marine uniform

In 1928, Tunney was married to a wealthy socialite, the former Mary "Polly" Lauder (1907 – April 19, 2008). The couple lived in Stamford, Connecticut and had four children. Among them is John V. Tunney (born 1934), who was a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from California from 1971 until 1977. The others are Jonathan "Jay" Tunney of Stamford, Connecticut; Gene L. Tunney of Honolulu, Hawaii and Joan Tunney Cook of Omaha in Boone County in northwestern Arkansas. Tunney's daughter Joan was committed to a mental hospital on June 6, 1970 after she murdered her husband.

Mrs. Tunney's grandfather was George Lauder, Sr., a first yachtsman whose 136-foot (41 m) schooner once held the record for the fastest trans-Atlantic yacht passage ever made. According to a 2007 biography, Tunney promised Polly that he would quit boxing and defended his title only one more time after the second Dempsey fight, against Tom Heeney of New Zealand.

Death

Upon his death at the age of eighty-one, Tunney was interred at Long Ridge Union Cemetery in Stamford. He died at the Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut and had been suffering from a circulation ailment.[2]

Fighting style

Tunney at Trinity College Dublin, 1928

Tunney was a thinking fighter who preferred to make a boxing match into a game of chess, which was not popular during the times when such sluggers as Jack Dempsey, Harry Greb and Mickey Walker were commanding center stage. Tunney's style was influenced by other noted boxing thinkers such as James J. Corbett and Benny Leonard. Nevertheless, it is incorrect to think of Tunney as a stick-and-move fighter in the Ali style. While Tunney's heavyweight fights against Gibbons, Carpentier, and Dempsey featured his fleet-footed movement and rapid-fire jabbing, his earlier bouts, especially the five against Harry Greb, demonstrated his vicious body punching and willingness to fight toe-to-toe. It was Benny Leonard who advised Tunney that the only way to beat Harry "The Human Windmill" Greb was to aim his punches at Greb's body rather than his head.

Always moving and boxing behind an excellent left jab, Tunney would study his opponents from the first bell. He generally preferred to stay outside and nullify any attacks, while using quick counters to keep the opponent off balance. Although not a big puncher, Tunney could still hit with power, especially after hurting his opponents and mastering their styles.

In his fights against Jack Dempsey, today's viewer can see Tunney's style: hands held low for greater power, fast footwork that adjusts to every move his opponent makes and quick and accurate one-two style counter-punches with the left and right.

Tunney did own a very solid chin. He was never knocked out, and the only time he was ever knocked down was in the second fight with Dempsey in the infamous Long Count.

Publications

In 1932, Tunney published a book called A Man Must Fight, in which he gave comments on his career and boxing techniques.

Cultural references

Stamp honoring Tunney

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis had a comedy routine in which Lewis (in boxing shorts and gear) states he's fight'n Gene Tierney (the actress). Martin corrects Lewis and suggests that he must mean "Gene Tunney." Lewis then quips "You fight who you wanna fight, I'm fight'n who I wanna fight, I'm fight'n Gene Tierney."[3]

In the song She Twists the Knife Again from Richard Thompson's 1985 album Across a Crowded Room, describing the mismatched intensity in a strife-ladened relationship, Thompson writes: "I'm in a fist fight/She thinks she's Gene Tunney!"

He's also mentioned in Act 1 of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman: Willy tells his sons he has a punching bag with Tunney's signature on it.

Mentioned in A Whistle in the Dark (Act 1, p31) by Tom Murphy : 'in the words of the great Gene Tunney, a man must fight back. His father was a Mayoman too'.

Mentioned in the short story "Fallon" by JD Luther, when imprisoned character Tyson Wayne Vance recalls his abusive father, "Was more than one night momma'd look like she went fifteen rounds with Gene Tunney...",

Professional boxing record

65 Wins (48 Knockouts), 1 Defeat, 1 Draw, 1 No Contest[4]
Res. Record Opponent Type Rd., Time Date Location Notes
Win 65-1-1 Tom Heeney TKO 11 (15), 2:52 1928-07-26 Yankee Stadium, New York, New York Retained World Heavyweight Title
Win 64-1-1 Jack Dempsey UD 10 1927-09-22 Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois Retained World Heavyweight Title
The Ring magazine's "Fight of the Year" (1927)
Win 63-1-1 Jack Dempsey UD 10 1926-09-23 Sesquicentennial Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Won World Heavyweight Title
The Ring magazine's "Fight of the Year" (1926)
Win 62-1-1 Dan O'Dowd KO 2 (10), 0:32 1925-12-29 Waterfront Park, Saint Petersburg, Florida
Win N/A Johnny Risko NWS 12 1925-11-18 Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio Newspaper Decision
Win 61-1-1 Bartley Madden KO 3 (10) 1925-09-25 Indoor Hockey Arena, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Win 60-1-1 Italian Jack Herman KO 2 (10) 1925-07-03 Memorial Hall, Kansas City, Missouri
Win 59-1-1 Tommy Gibbons KO 12 (15) 1925-06-05 Polo Grounds, New York, New York
Win N/A Harry Greb NWS 10 1925-03-27 Saint Paul Auditorium, Saint Paul, Minnesota Newspaper Decision
Win N/A Jeff Smith NWS 15 1924-12-08 Coliseum Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana Newspaper Decision
Win 58-1-1 Buddy McHale TKO 2 (8) 1924-11-10 Southern A.C., Tennessee, Memphis
Win 57-1-1 Harry Foley TKO 1 (8), 2:05 1924-10-27 Memphis Auditorium, Tennessee, Memphis
Win 56-1-1 Ray Neuman PTS 10 1924-09-27 Cambria Fairgrounds, Ebensburg, Pennsylvania
Draw N/A Harry Greb NWS 10 1924-09-17 Olympic Arena, Cleveland, Ohio Newspaper Decision
Win 55-1-1 Joe Lohman TKO 8 (12) 1924-08-18 Fairmont Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Win 54-1-1 Georges Carpentier TKO 15 (15), 1:04 1924-07-24 Polo Grounds, New York, New York The Ring magazine's "Fight of the Year" (1924)
Win 53-1-1 Erminio Spalla TKO 7 (12) 1924-06-26 Yankee Stadium, New York, New York
Win N/A Jimmy Delaney NWS 10 1924-03-17 Saint Paul Auditorium, Saint Paul, Minnesota Newspaper Decision
Win 52-1-1 Martin Burke PTS 15 1924-02-15 Coliseum Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana
Win 51-1-1 Ray Thompson KO 2 (10) 1924-01-24 Legion Arena, West Palm Beach, Florida
Win N/A Harry Foley NWS 10 1924-01-15 Grand Rapids Coliseum, Grand Rapids, Michigan Newspaper Decision
Win 50-1-1 Harry Greb UD 15 1923-12-10 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York Retained American Light Heavyweight Title
Win 49-1-1 Dan O'Dowd PTS 15 1923-07-31 Queensboro Stadium, Queens, New York
Win N/A Jimmy Delaney NWS 10 1923-05-16 Chicago Coliseum, Chicago, Illinois Newspaper Decision
Win 48-1-1 Jack Clifford TKO 8 (10) 1923-05-07 Fair Grounds Coliseum, Detroit, Michigan
Win 47-1-1 Harry Greb SD 15 1923-02-23 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York Won American Light Heavyweight Title
Win 46-1-1 Chuck Wiggins PTS 12 1923-02-03 Commonwealth Sporting Club, New York, New York
NC 45-1-1 Jack Renault NC 4 (8) 1923-01-29 Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Win 45-1-1 Charley Weinert KO 4 (15) 1922-11-29 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Win 44-1-1 Jack Hanlon KO 1 (12), 1:22 1922-11-03 Clermont Avenue Rink, Brooklyn, New York
Win 43-1-1 Chuck Wiggins PTS 10 1922-10-27 Commercial A.C., Boston, Massachusetts
Draw N/A Tommy Loughran NWS 8 1922-08-24 Shibe Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Newspaper Decision
Win N/A Charley Weinert NWS 12 1922-08-17 Broad A.C., Newark, New Jersey Newspaper Decision
Win 42-1-1 Ray Thompson KO 3 (10) 1922-08-04 Ocean Park Casino, Long Branch, New Jersey
Win 41-1-1 Fay Keiser PTS 12 1922-07-07 Rockaway Beach Arena, Queens, New York
Loss 40-1-1 Harry Greb UD 15 1922-05-23 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York Lost American Light Heavyweight Title
The Ring magazine's "Fight of the Year" (1922)
Win 40-0-1 Jack Burke TKO 9 (10) 1922-04-10 Motor Square Garden, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Win N/A Fay Keiser NWS 10 1922-03-03 Armory, Grand Rapids, Michigan Newspaper Decision
Win 39-0-1 Whitey Wenzel TKO 4 (8) 1922-02-14 Ice Palace, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Win 38-0-1 Jack Clifford TKO 6 (12) 1922-02-11 Clermont Avenue Rink, Brooklyn, New York
Win 37-0-1 Battling Levinsky PTS 12 1922-01-13 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York Won American Light Heavyweight Title
Win 36-0-1 Eddie O'Hare KO 6 (8) 1921-12-22 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Win 35-0-1 Wolf Larsen TKO 7 (12), 1:35 1921-10-25 Pioneer Sporting Club, New York, New York
Win 34-0-1 Jack Burke TKO 3 (8) 1921-10-14 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Win 33-0-1 Herbert Crossley PTS 7 1921-09-26 Dyckman Oval, New York, New York
Win 32-0-1 Eddie Josephs PTS 12 1921-08-18 Sisco Park, Staten Island, New York
Win 31-0-1 Martin Burke PTS 10 1921-08-04 Dyckman Oval, New York, New York
Win 30-0-1 Soldier Jones TKO 7 (8) 1921-07-02 Boyle's Thirty Acres, Jersey City, New Jersey
Win 29-0-1 Johnny Ambrose KO 1 (12), 2:45 1921-06-28 Pioneer Sporting Club, New York, New York
Win N/A Leo Houck NWS 10 1920-12-07 4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey Newspaper Decision
Win N/A Leo Houck NWS 6 1920-11-25 Olympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Newspaper Decision
Win N/A Paul Samson Koerner NWS 10 1920-10-25 6th Regiment Armory, Paterson, New Jersey Newspaper Decision
Win 28-0-1 Sgt. Ray Smith TKO 2 (8) 1920-10-22 Sportsman's Club, Camden, New Jersey
Win 27-0-1 Ole Anderson TKO 3 (10) 1920-06-28 4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey
Win 26-0-1 Jeff Madden TKO 2 (12) 1920-06-07 4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey
Win 25-0-1 Jack Clifford KO 3 (10) 1920-04-09 Community Hall, Johnson City, New York
Win 24-0-1 K.O. Sullivan KO 1 (8) 1920-04-05 1st Regiment Armory, Newark, New Jersey
Win 23-0-1 Ed Kinley KO 5 (8) 1920-03-04 Grand View Auditorium, Jersey City, New Jersey
Win 22-0-1 Al Roberts KO 8 (8) 1920-02-02 1st Regiment Armory, Newark, New Jersey
Win 21-0-1 Jim Monahan TKO 1 (8), 2:50 1920-01-26 4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey
Win 20-0-1 Bud Nelson KO 1 (8) 1920-01-20 Schuetzen Park, Bayonne, New Jersey
Win 19-0-1 Whitey Allen KO 2 (8) 1920-01-01 Schuetzen Park, Bayonne, New Jersey
Win 18-0-1 Bob Pearce KO 2 (8) 1919-12-29 4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey
Win N/A Dan O'Dowd NWS 8 1919-12-16 Schuetzen Park, Bayonne, New Jersey Newspaper Decision
Win 17-0-1 Ted Jamieson PTS 10 1919-04-26 Paris
Win 16-0-1 K.O. Sullivan PTS 10 1919-04-14 Paris
Win 15-0-1 Dare Lewis KO 3 1919-03-31 Tours, Indre-et-Loire
Win 14-0-1 Bob Martin PTS 4 1919-01-27 Paris
Draw 13-0-1 Tommy Gavigan PTS 10 1918-12-20 Romorantin, Loir-et-Cher
Win 13-0 Howard Morrow KO 6 1918-12-10 Romorantin, Loir-et-Cher
Win 12-0 Victor KO Marchand KO 2 1918-12-05 Paris
Win 11-0 Johnny Newton KO 6 1918-11-20 Romorantin, Loir-et-Cher
Win 10-0 Hank Werhl KO 6 1918-11-01 Romorantin, Loir-et-Cher
Win 9-0 Young Guerini KO 1 (8) 1918-07-08 4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey
Win 8-0 Hugh Weir KO 2 (10) 1918-01-15 Pioneer Sporting Club, New York, New York
Win 7-0 Joe Borrell KO 2 (10) 1917-12-28 New Polo A.C., New York, New York
Win 6-0 Sailor Wolfe KO 2 (10) 1916-12-29 Miners 8th St Theater, New York, New York
Win N/A George Leahy NWS 6 1916-12-22 Miners 8th St Theater, New York, New York Newspaper Decision
Win 5-0 Young Sharkey KO 6 (10) 1916-12-15 Miners 8th St Theater, New York, New York
Win 4-0 Young Guerini TKO 8 (10) 1916-12-08 Miners 8th St Theater, New York, New York
Draw N/A KO Jaffe NWS 10 1916-07-21 New Polo A.C., New York, New York Newspaper Decision
Win N/A Billy Rowe NWS 6 1915-12-01 Fairmont A.C., Bronx, New York Newspaper Decision
Win 3-0 George Leahy KO 2 (6) 1915-08-28 Fairmont A.C., Bronx, New York
Win 2-0 Battling Genrimo KO 3 (10) 1915-08-06 Miners 8th St Theater, New York, New York
Win 1-0 Bobby Dawson TKO 8 (10) 1915-07-03 Sharkey A.C., New York, New York

See also

References

  1. ^ "Tunney was Lumberjack for Ottawa Company". The Globe. September 28, 1926. p. 9. 
  2. ^ "Tunney, Boxing Champion Who Beat Dempsey, Dies. Lectured on Shakespeare.".  
  3. ^ Gene Tierney: A Shattered Portrait, The Biography Channel. March 26, 1999
  4. ^ Gene Tunney's Professional Boxing Record. BoxRec.com. Retrieved on 2014-05-03.

External links

  • Gene Tunney of Kiltimagh Lineage
  • Review of 2006 Gene Tunney biography
  • Professional boxing record for Gene Tunney from BoxRec
  • Gene Tunney at Find a Grave
  • Gene Tunney vs. Jack Dempsey (second match)
Achievements
Preceded by
Jack Dempsey
World Heavyweight Champion
September 23, 1926 – July 31, 1928
Succeeded by
Max Schmeling
Filled vacancy
Awards
Preceded by
Inaugural Award
Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year
1928
Succeeded by
Tommy Loughran
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