Tuesday, October 03, 2023  |



From The Archive: Jack Dempsey KO 2 Luis Firpo

Jack Dempsey knocks down Luis Angel Firpo during their iconic shootout at the Polo Grounds in New York City on September 14, 1923. (Photo: The Ring Magazine via Getty Images)
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In large part due to George Bellows’ iconic painting of Jack Dempsey experiencing a biblical fall from grace at the hands of Luis Firpo, the heavyweight championship fight at the Polo Grounds on September 14, 1923, found a rare crossover spot in pop-culture history. What is sometimes overshadowed by the press-row plunge and the folklore surrounding it, which Don Stradley writes about in the September 2023 issue, is that the bombs-only contest featured a total of eleven knockdowns in less than two rounds; Round 1 saw Dempsey off his feet twice (including the time he went airborne and left the ring entirely), while Firpo was down seven times in the first round and twice more in the second, with number nine making Dempsey the winner. The photo above shows Dempsey hovering over the fallen Firpo just after one such knockdown, eager to pounce again – this being a few years before neutral corners would become a thing and fighters were still permitted to attack as soon as their opponents were upright.

As an interesting side note, the photo bears the pencil marks of a previous Ring Magazine photo editor who wanted to accentuate some of the outlines and facial features of the two fighters and the referee.

This feature is part of the September 2023 digital edition of The Ring, available to subscribers. If you’re not a subscriber, click here to subscribe and access the current issue and back issues for just $1.99/month.