History | Sep 06 2019

On This Day: Boxing legends Jack Dempsey, Harry Greb and Sam Langford all appear on the same show

Matt Christie tells the incredible story of Billy Miske, who was dying when he stepped into the ring with Jack Dempsey
Jack Dempsey and Billy Miske

1. JACK DEMPSEY  savaged Jess Willard to win the world heavyweight title in July 1919 but had to wait until September 6, 1920 to make the first defence of his crown. The delay was largely caused by his manager Doc Kearns and his promoter Tex Rickard failing to agree on a suitable opponent for the young champion. In the end, Dempsey himself picked his challenger, and settled on veteran Billy Miske.

2. MISKE [below] was a long-time friend of Dempsey, and told his buddy he was broke and desperately needed the $25,000 purse on offer for the fight in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Rickard wanted no part of the promotion and was not involved. Floyd Fitzsimmons stepped in and promoted the contest – which was the first to be broadcast on the radio. It was the last time Dempsey fought without Rickard promoting.

Billy Miske
Billy Miske

3. THE Champion received $50,000 in cash and a share of the $134,904 gate receipts. It was reported that 11, 346 attended the contest.