William “Jack” Dempsey rose from humble beginnings as a Colorado mining camp and saloon brawler to become one of the world’s greatest and best-known boxing champions.
Born in Manassa, Colorado, Dempsey left home to seek his fortune in the rough mining towns of Colorado and Utah. He earned a living with his boast, “I can’t sing, I can’t dance, but I can lick anyone in the room.” By following through on his promise, Dempsey’s legend spread throughout the West. Eventually, Dempsey was fighting on the professional boxing circuit in front of record-breaking crowds in cities across the country.
In 1919, Dempsey, known professionally as the “Manassa Mauler”, disposed of current champ Jess Willard to become the World’s Heavy Weight Champion. He retained the title until losing to Gene Tunney in 1926.
Gracious in defeat, Dempsey’s popularity rose in the eyes of the population. After the rematch with Tunney, one of boxing’s greatest bouts resulting in the infamous long count, Dempsey retired from the sport with a record 69 wins, 6 losses and 9 draws. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
I can’t sing, I can’t dance, but I can lick anyone in the room.