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Jack Dempsey was born on June 24, 1895, in the Mormon village of Manassa, Colorado.
As a boy, he worked as a farm hand, miner and cowboy and was taught to box by his older brother.
Going by the name "Kid Blackie," in his Salt Lake City debut, Dempsey knocked out his opponent, a boxer by the name of "One Punch Hancock," in just one punch.
Downey was so angry that he made Dempsey fight another opponent before he paid him.
During these years, Dempsey's older brother, Bernie, earned extra money as a prizefighter in the saloons of hardscrabble Rocky Mountain towns.
It was Bernie who taught young Jack how to fight, instructing him to chew pine tar gum to strengthen his jaw and soak his face in brine to toughen his skin.
Assuming the name Jack Dempsey for the first time that night, he won his brother's fight decisively and never relinquished the name.
By 1917, Dempsey had earned enough of a reputation to book more prominent and better-paying fights in San Francisco and on the East Coast.
Dempsey successfully defended his heavyweight title five times over the next six years, in what is considered one of the greatest runs in boxing history.When Dempsey was 12 years old, his family settled in Provo, Utah, where he attended Lakeview Elementary School.He dropped out of school after the eighth grade, though, to begin working full time.Although Hyrum Dempsey later abandoned Mormonism, his wife remained faithful and observant throughout her life, and Jack Dempsey was raised in the church.The boxer later described his own religious beliefs: "I'm proud to be a Mormon.On September 23, 1926, he was defeated by challenger Gene Tunney before a record crowd of 120,000 fans in Philadelphia.When the bruised and battered Dempsey returned to his hotel that night, his wife, shocked at his gruesome appearance, asked him what happened. "I forgot to duck." The hilarious and self-effacing anecdote made Dempsey something of a folk legend for the rest of his life.For the next five years, from 1911-16, Dempsey traveled from mining town to mining town, picking up fights wherever he could.His home base was Peter Jackson's Saloon in Salt Lake City, where a local organizer named Hardy Downey arranged his fights.He shined shoes, picked crops and worked at a sugar refinery, unloading beets for a measly ten cents per ton.By the age of 17, Dempsey had developed into a skilled young boxer, and decided he could make more money fighting than working.