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November 18, 2016

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PAGE 12 BOSTON POST-GAZE'l-rE, NOVEMBER 18, 2016 Dempsey vs, The Cowboy Dempsey hitting Luttrell. We often hear the sad stories of former world champions who have ended up broke and then resorted to taking up professional wrestling to make money. Joe Louis and Primo Camera are the ones who most often come to mind. Camera was robbed blind by his managers. Louis had spent most of his money and also had the IRS tormenting him for back taxes on money he had turned over to charities during the war years. In Louis' case, it was particularly dis- graceful because the very government he did so much for was now ruining him, and all because of what turned out to be an accounting error. Another great champion also ended up in the wrestling ring in an attempt to make some much-needed money. Jack Dempsey, the great Manassa Mauler, had hit some bad financial times and by 1940 he was making ends meet by making personal appearances and refereeing both boxing and wres- tling matches. Dempsey's situation was a bit dif- ferent form Louis and Carnera as Jack had not lost his money to box- ing people. Jack's financial problems stemmed from the stock market crash and a couple of failed marriages. The former champ had been a good bus'mess man, but was also an easy touch. As long as he was making money, he was gener- ous in spreading it around. He was not foolish about this; he just liked helping people and felt the good that had befallen him should be shared. Eventually, things got a bit tight and that is when Jack stepped back into the ring. He was picking up small purses and traveling around the country having some fun. In 1940, he was approached about actually fighting again. This is where it gets hard to separate fact from fiction. I have read there was talk of building Jack up for a fight with Joe Louts. It has been said plans for a fight against Arturo Godoy were in the works, but it seems unlikely to me the 45-year-old Dempsey would have been seriously considering such a thing. I am sure there were, as ti ere are today, plenty of unscrupulous promoters around that would not have blinked an eye at the chance to cash in on Jack's fame. Dempsey would have been too smart to go for this. Ticket to the fight. There was, however, one final match in Dempsey's boxing career, and that bout did take place in 1940. It had to do with a wresting match he was refereeing and would seem like a typical pro wrestling set-up where a bad guy wrestler insults a very popular figure and a match is called for. Well, indeed, Dempsey was insulted and a match did follow, but it does not appear this was wrestling hype. In June of 1940, Jack was down in Atlanta, Georgia, to officiate at a bout between Clarence "Cowboy" Luttre11 and Dorve Roche. Luttrell was from Florida and quite popular on the southern wrestling circuit. He was also a "Bad Guy." Our- ing his bout with Roche, Luttrell took issue with a decision by Dempsey and took a swing at him. Jack retaliated with a left hook and things were bro- ken up. Afterwards, Luttrell mouthed off about how he could take Dempsey any day of the week. The promoters jumped on this and set up a match for July ist in Atlanta. At this point, it all seemed like just another typical wrestling stunt. Dempsey was quoted as saying "He says I can't fight, so show him, I only need a haircut and a shave to stop that big talker. It will give me sat- isfaction to hammer him, and the Red Cross will benefit by the proceeds." It turns out this was a bit more than a publicity stunt. Years ago, a boxing guy I knew gave me some background on what really happened. I am going from memory, but I have heard a similar story from another source. There was moreto the incident that occurred during the wrestling match. While possibly planned, it got way out of hand. Luttrell took a Fleischer, Dempsey, and Luttrell. real shot at Dempsey and verbally abused him. The bad mouthing and insults continued in the days following the event, and the Cowboy got under Jack's skin. He was angry, and hav- ing Jack Dempsey angry with you was not a good thing. On the night of their ~g~udge fight," my source said he was in Dempsey's dressing room and about to wrap his hands. Jack grabbed the hand wraps from him and said "I'm taping my own hands, this is for real tonight!" He told me Jack was extremely fired up and out for blood. Nat Fleischer, publisher of The Ring magazine, was brought in as the referee. At the bell for the first round, you could see this was no exhibition bout. Jack was out to hurt Luttre11 and end the fight well before the ten-round limit. Dempsey was not in great shape, weighing in at 205 against Luttrell's 226, but the rage we saw years earlier in the Willard fight was still there. Jack went right after Luttrell, pounding him from pillar to post. When he would drop the Cowboy, he would not go to a neutral corner; instead he would circle behind the fallen wrestler ready to pounce on him again as soon as he was up. The fight could have and should have been stopped not long after it started, but Fleischer, in what had to be the worst case of refereeing in his- tory, let the carnage continue. In the second round, a winded but still ferocious Dempsey continued the onslaught. He kept Luttrell pinned against the ropes where he rained punches on him. The Cowboy was helpless at this point and Jack finally ended matters when he hit him so hard he sent him through the ropes and out of the ring where he banged his head and was unconscious. Unbelievably, Fleischer actually counted him out. Nat should have been arrested for being an accessory to attempted murder. I was told Luttrell suffered permanent paralysis from the injuries he received. I believe it. By most accounts, this was Dempsey's last time in the ring, though I have heard he took on two more wrestlers in the following weeks. I cannot verify that. Jack Dempsey was a great champion and a great man, but you did not want him mad at you. This incident is proof of that. HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB by Richard Preiss FLIP FLOP -- It's the doubleheader that annually kicks off the holiday season here in the Hub. While hordes of people in the suburbs venture forth for bargains on Black Friday, those with athletic interests head to the Garden for a double treat -- being able to take in a Bruins game and a Celtics game on a single day. Traditionally, the order has been that the Bruins would play first -- in the early afternoon -- followed by the Celtics game at night, However, this year on Friday, November 26th, the order has been reversed. It will be the Celtics kicking things off by meeting the San Antonio Spurs at 1:00 pm, while the Bruins face off against Calgary at 7:30 pm. BUT THERE'S MORE -- The game with Calgary will be just one in a busy Thanksgiving week for the Bruins. They will host St. Louis at the Garden on Tuesday, a couple of nights before Thanksgiving. Then on Thanksgiving Night, the B's will play at Ottawa. Thus, the game with Calgary on Black Friday will be the second game of a back-to-back situation. The Bruins will close out Thanks- giving weekend by meeting Tampa Bay at the Garden on Sunday at I:00 pm. Thanksgiving time looms large in the minds of Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien and club president Cam Neely. Both are of the opinion that how NHL teams stack up on the holiday is a pretty good indication of how they will finish in the final regular season standings next April. So we l see how the B's do during Thanksgiving Week and where they stand as the holiday weekend comes to a conclusion. The Celtics will have three games during Thanksgiving week but only the Friday game with San Antonio will be at home. The C's will play at Minnesota on Monday and a{ Brootdyn on Wednesday. EAGLES FLYING HIGH -- You'd never know that the Boston College men's hockey team had lost a significant number of players last spring. Between graduating seniors and players leaving for the pros, the Eagles said farewell to a dozen performers from last year's squad. But you'd never know it by looking at the standings in Hockey East. One glance and you realize that coach Jerry York's charges never lost a skating stride. Third ranked in the nation, BC (as of press time} owned the longest unbeaten streak in the nation at ten games, going 10-2-1 overall and 5-0-1 in Hockey East.). The Eagles were also first in Conference scoring, with a 4.33 goals per game average and second in conference defense at 2.17 goals against average. BC has three of Hockey East's top ten point producers in its ranks. Austin Cangelosi has 5-4-9 totals while teammate Matthew Gaudreau is tied for second (2-6-8) and Ryan Fitzgerald, a senior forward from North Reading, is tied for ninth (3-4-7). Plus, between the pipes, you can't get much better than BC freshman net minder Joe Woll, who has an excellent 1.77 goals allowed average across a nine- game span. October and November do not a season make in college hockey, which boasts a six-month regular season campaign, the longest of any sport in the collegiate ranks. But all in all, it looks like things are shaping up for another fine season for York, who is in his 454 campaign as a college head coach and the 23~d leading the way for his alma mater at The Heights. The good start means wins at the early stages are wins in the bank, building toward an impressive number that will impress NCAA Tournament selection committee members next March. A big game for BC will come on December I0th when the Eagles travel to Indiana to take on rival Notre Dame, the final game for BC before fall semester final exams. It may also be BC's last visit to South Bend for some time since Notre Dame is leaving Hockey East after this season to join the Big Ten Conference. Notre Dame will pay a visit to BC on January 28 The Fighting Irish will also play a pair of back-to-back games against Boston University in the Hub on February 24th and February 25~. Meanwhile, the Boston College men's basketball team is happy since it finally returned to the win column for the first time since December 30, 2015 -- breaking a losing streak of 20 games. The Eagles were victorious over Maryland- Eastern Shore, 73-57, at Conte Forum, giving the home court fan base at Conte Forum something to cheer about once again. AN IMPROVING SITUATION -- For the first few weeks of the "season, the Bruins had a tough time starting games. But Coach Claude Julien looks for improvement over time. think when someone says you are having trouble overcoming those things (slow starts) it could be a number of things. You've got a lot of new players in your lineup, the team is just starting to jell together and you are gradually building some character and some confidence and everything that goes with it. So it hasn't really been a concern of mine. I think we have a good enough team that we can overcome those kinds of things." With the upcoming homestand over Thanksgiving Week, Julien feels it will be good to be back on Causeway Street. "The theme of our team this year has been "on the road again." Wehre had those week- long road trips, which so far have been good. You get a chance to bond and know each other. There are some new faces, so it can only get better. But we look forward to being at home -- with home-cooked meals and having our fans behind us."