This article is for quizzes on Tuesday September 24th...

The Long Count Fight or the Battle Of The Long Count was the boxing rematch between world Heavyweight champion Gene Tunney and former champion Jack Dempsey, held on September 22, 1927, at Soldier Field in Chicago. "Long Count" is applied to the fight because a referee apparently took longer than usual to count to ten while Tunney was down, unfairly giving him extra time to recover and go on to win the fight. Whether this "long count" actually affected the outcome remains a subject of debate.
Just 364 days before, on September 23, 1926, Tunney had beaten Dempsey by a ten round unanimous decision to lift the world Heavyweight title, at Sesquicentennial Stadium in Philadelphia. The first fight between Tunney and Dempsey had been moved out of Chicago because Dempsey had learned that Al Capone was a big fan of his, and he did not want Capone to be involved in the fight. Capone reportedly bet $50,000 on Dempsey for the rematch, which fueled false rumors of a fix. Dempsey was favored by odds makers in both fights, largely because of public betting which heavily tilted towards Dempsey.

The rematch was held at Chicago's Soldier Field, and would draw a gate of $2,658,660 (approximately $22 million in today's dollars). It was simultaneously the first $1 million gate and the first $2 million gate in entertainment history.

Despite the fact that Tunney had won the first fight by a wide margin on the scorecards, the prospect of a second bout created tremendous public interest. Dempsey was one of the so-called "big five" sports legends of the 1920s, and it was widely rumored that he had refused to participate in the military during World War I. He actually had attempted to enlist in the Army, but had been turned down; a jury later exonerated Dempsey of draft evasion. Tunney, who enjoyed literature and the arts, was a former member of the United States Marine Corps. His nickname was The Fighting Marine.

The fight took place under new rules regarding knockdowns: the fallen fighter would have 10 seconds to rise to his feet under his own power, after his opponent moved to a neutral corner (i.e., one with no trainers). The new rule, which was not yet universal, was asked to be put into use during the fight by the Dempsey camp, who had requested it during negotiations. Dempsey, in the final days of training prior to the rematch, apparently ignored the setting of these new rules. Also, the fight was staged inside a 20-foot ring, which favored the boxer with superior footwork, in this case Tunney. Dempsey liked to crowd his opponents, and normally fought in a 16-foot ring that offered less space to maneuver.

author profile image