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At Boyle's, 2,900 police, firemen, plainclothesmen and private ushers waited to handle the crush, setting up blockades four blocks away from the stadium, letting only properly accredited people into the menagerie. The final count was to be 80,183, representing every level of life.
Most came by subway and buses. The famous names, however, arrived in limousines and private railway cars and yachts and chartered tugboats. William H. Vanderbilt. John D. Rockefeller Jr. Henry Ford. Harry Payne Whitney. Vincent Astor. George M. Cohan. Jake Ruppert. And Al Jolson, who had closed his show in Butte, Mont, so he could attend. The celebrities sat down front in the $50 ringside seats (folding chairs brought over from Madison Square Garden). Behind them, on benches of spruce, were the common people, the peasants who had paid $40, $30, $25, $20, $15, $10 and $5.50.
As Carpentier entered the arena to the accompaniment of wild cheers, there occurred something that might well have turned boxing's brightest day into tragedy. Up in section H, back in the $5.50 seats, the final additions, the stadium started to sway.
"There was just a movement," an engineer who helped build the stands says today. "Don't make too big of a thing out of it. There was a movement, a decided sway. But there really was never any danger of the stadium collapsing. None."
The people in the stands at the time were far from convinced of this. "Everybody stay down," one man yelled. Then he turned to a policeman. "If you police can't make them sit down, club them down."
Unaware of what was happening behind them, those in front watched Dempsey cutting Carpentier in the first round, getting stunned in the second, then mercilessly punishing the challenger in the third, before knocking him out in the fourth. Many were silent. Some cried.
The next day The New York Times ran an eight-column banner on its front page and filled six of its eight news columns with stories of the fight. (Only the day's news of President Harding, an attempted suicide and the marriage of the Duchess of Marlborough were permitted to share the page.) For the next 12 pages there were, again, nothing but fight stories and pictures. As if in apology, the staid old journal editorialized that same day, "The world may now gain its equipoise."
Three days later a group of engineers checked the stadium and found it safe. It stood for six more years, then Rickard had it torn down. Today, Boyle's Thirty Acres are lost in the middle of a housing project, the only echo of their sporting past lying in the shouts of the boys of Ferris High School of Jersey City as they shag grounders on the project's baseball diamond.