Despite reading a (possibly worryingly) large number of boxing books, the life of Jack Dempsey was one I hadn’t read about in any great depth. While the name is intimately to familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in boxing, the details of his life and career are likely less well known.
In Jack Dempsey and the Roaring Twenties Thomas Myler recounts Dempsey’s story. It really is a remarkable tale with Dempsey beginning as a homeless bar fighter traversing the country by railway. Eventually he would punch his way to the top of the sport and become an iconic figure at a time when the heavyweight champion of the world was one of the most famous men alive. As the title suggests, the book does a superb job of placing Dempsey in his time and place and brings both the era and the man vividly to life.
Myler is a well-known and talented boxing writer and historian who has interviewed pretty much everyone there is to interview in boxing. What makes this book a great combination of subject and writer is that Myler had the privilege of interviewing Dempsey before he died which adds an authenticity to the book which is rare in one looking back so far into the past. Many of Dempsey’s fights are subject to conspiracy theories and rumours, none more so than his first title fight in 1919 and his last fight against Gene Tunney. Myler does a great job in separating fact from fiction and presenting Dempsey’s story as he sees it. A fine addition to any boxing fan’s library.