CRACK IN THE PLASTER
I just can't believe that Jack Dempsey's gloves were loaded, even though his manager, Jack (Doc) Kearns, says that they were (He Didn't Know the Gloves Were Loaded, Jan. 13). Kearns, known by his own admission for his cheating ways, shouldn't be counted on to tell the truth. It is possible that Willard was in poor shape for the fight and, obviously, Dempsey was in excellent condition. This could have been the reason for the terrible beating.
Don't you believe it. I saw Jack Dempsey in action in the early '30s when he was way past his prime, but making a comeback effort. He whipped four men in four rounds at Sioux Falls, S. Dak. One man, a big, tough fellow of about 250 pounds, was knocked kicking by Dempsey's short chops to the jaw after he tried to lean on Jack and tire him out. The big fellow made a speech to the crowd afterward. "lf anyone tells you Jack Dempsey can't hit anymore, you tell them for me that they're crazy," he said.
In my book Jack Dempsey was the ever-lastin' best.
HARRY E. CHRISMAN
In the winter of 1917-18, Jess Willard came to the Army camp where I was stationed and put on a four-round boxing exhibition with our camp champion for the entertainment of our soldiers. There were a couple of fellows in our outfit who had freighted with Jess in the Dakotas, hauling merchandise over the prairie with mule teams, so we took a keen interest in the bout. Jess was always a big and powerful man and his uppercut, which seemed to rise up from the floor, would devastate anyone who got in its way. But he was then so overweight and so slow and clumsy that he tripped a couple of times on the canvas and nearly fell. There was never any doubt in my mind that Dempsey could beat him. In fact, I always thought that there were a couple of other heavyweights who could have done the same.
I hardly believe it possible that Jack's fists could have been encased in concrete shells in the short time there was after the gloves were placed on his hands. In any case, it is all beside the point, because in my mind there is no doubt that Dempsey could have beaten any fighter that ever lived that day in Toledo.
RALPH W. ELKINS
I am disgusted with all this hokum about Jack Dempsey having loaded gloves when he fought Jess Willard. Just because a fighter receives a terrific beating doesn't mean that the fighter that gave it to him had rocks in his gloves. Did Joe Louis have loaded gloves when he fought Max Schmeling? Of course he didn't.
I bandaged my fist, soaked the bandage with water and sprinkled it with an ample amount of plaster of paris and worked it well into the bandages, then I covered my fist with a turkish towel to let it dry. When the plaster of paris began to set, the bandage got hot. It took about 45 minutes to dry, but it was far from being a lethal weapon.
I then started punching a hassock which I felt was about as hard as any fighter. After the first punch the plaster was anything but hard. After three punches it was almost back to a powder form.
Perhaps Jack Kearns died convinced that by loading Dempsey's gloves he had staged the greatest steal in boxing history that July 4, 1919 in Toledo. His ability in duplicity and trickery was exceptional but his ignorance of plaster of paris was even more so. Soggy bandages, rather than concrete block busters, were probably created by his sprinkling this powder on Dempsey's water-soaked hand wrappings. As an orthopedic surgeon, experienced in the usage of such plaster from 1918 to the present time, I challenge his results.
Plaster of paris is anhydrous calcium sulphate which, by the addition of water, crystallizes into rocklike hardness. Under the direct vision of Willard's chief second, Kearns could not have made a paste thick enough to be effective and, more important, the wet plaster could not have been kept in one position sufficiently long to harden—in this instance at least 10 to 20 minutes. If Dempsey's fingers had remained extended as the plaster hardened, he could not have made a fist and, similarly, had the plaster hardened when his fingers were tightly closed he could not have straightened them. Also, Kearns stated that he "cracked off" the bandages; this would have been an impossibility with such tough cotton wrappings.