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Portrait of Tunney
|Real name||James Joseph Tunney|
|Nickname(s)||The Fighting Marine|
|Rated at||Light heavyweight
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Reach||77 in (196 cm)|
May 25, 1897|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||November 7, 1978(aged 81)|
|Wins by KO||48|
James Joseph "Gene" Tunney (May 25, 1897 – November 7, 1978) was an American professional boxer and the world heavyweight champion from 1926–28, he was also a two-time American light heavyweight champion. A highly technical boxer, Tunney had a five fight rivalry with Harry Greb in which he went 3-1-1, knocked out Georges Carpentier and defeated Jack Dempsey twice; first in 1926 and again in 1927. Tunney's successful title defense against Dempsey remains one of the most famous bouts in boxing history and is known as The Long Count Fight. He retired as an undefeated heavyweight after his victory over Tom Heeney in 1928, after which Tunney was named Fighter of the Year by The Ring magazine.
Mary Lydon from Culleen House, Gorthgarve, Kiltimagh, County Mayo, Ireland, emigrated to the United States after the Great Famine. She settled in New York City where she met John Tunney, also from Cill Aodain, Kiltimagh. They married after a short courtship. The Tunneys had seven children; one son was murdered around 1920, another was a NYPD Detective from 1924 to 1951, dying in 1971, while Gene would become famous as a World Heavyweight Boxing Champion.
Tunney fought some 68 official professional fights, losing only one, to Harry Greb, while fighting as a light heavyweight. Tunney fought many other fights whose scoring was unofficial, judged by newspaper reporters. He also lost none of these "newspaper decisions." He reported that he lost a second fight during World War I, a 10-round decision, to Tommy Loughran, as a Marine before he began his professional boxing career. Tunney was regarded as an extremely skillful boxer who excelled in defense. In addition to beating Dempsey, the most famous fighter of his era, Tunney defeated Tommy Gibbons, Georges Carpentier and many other fine boxers.
Already the U.S. Expeditionary Forces champion, Tunney spent the winter of 1921 as a lumberjack in northern Ontario for the J. R. Booth Company of Ottawa, without revealing he was a champion boxer. He explained this as "wanting the solitude and the strenuous labors of the woods to help condition himself for the career that appeared before him."
He was elected as Ring Magazine's first-ever Fighter of the Year in 1928 and later elected to the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1980, the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990 and the United States Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
In 1928, Tunney was married to a wealthy socialite, the former Mary "Polly" Lauder (1907 – April 19, 2008). The couple lived in Stamford, Connecticut and had four children. Among them is John V. Tunney (born 1934), who was a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from California from 1971 until 1977. The others are Jonathan "Jay" Tunney of Stamford, Connecticut; Gene L. Tunney who became a lawyer and served as District Attorney for Sonoma County, California for 20 years, and Joan Tunney Cook of Omaha in Boone County in northwestern Arkansas. Tunney's daughter Joan was committed to a mental hospital on June 6, 1970 after she murdered her husband.
Mrs. Tunney's grandfather was George Lauder, Sr., a first cousin and business partner of industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, founder and head of Carnegie Steel Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her father, George Lauder, Jr., was a philanthropist and yachtsman whose 136-foot (41 m) schooner once held the record for the fastest trans-Atlantic yacht passage ever made. According to a 2007 biography, Tunney promised Polly that he would quit boxing and defended his title only one more time after the second Dempsey fight, against Tom Heeney of New Zealand.
Upon his death at the age of eighty-one, Tunney was interred at Long Ridge Union Cemetery in Stamford. He died at the Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut and had been suffering from a circulation ailment.
Tunney was a thinking fighter who preferred to make a boxing match into a game of chess, which was not popular during the times when such sluggers as Jack Dempsey, Harry Greb and Mickey Walker were commanding center stage. Tunney's style was influenced by other noted boxing thinkers such as James J. Corbett and Benny Leonard. Nevertheless, it is incorrect to think of Tunney as a stick-and-move fighter in the Ali style. While Tunney's heavyweight fights against Gibbons, Carpentier, and Dempsey featured his fleet-footed movement and rapid-fire jabbing, his earlier bouts, especially the five against Harry Greb, demonstrated his vicious body punching and willingness to fight toe-to-toe. It was Benny Leonard who advised Tunney that the only way to beat Harry "The Human Windmill" Greb was to aim his punches at Greb's body rather than his head.
Always moving and boxing behind an excellent left jab, Tunney would study his opponents from the first bell. He generally preferred to stay outside and nullify any attacks, while using quick counters to keep the opponent off balance. Although not a big puncher, Tunney could still hit with power, especially after hurting his opponents and mastering their styles.
In his fights against Jack Dempsey, today's viewer can see Tunney's style: hands held low for greater power, fast footwork that adjusts to every move his opponent makes and quick and accurate one-two style counter-punches with the left and right.
Tunney did own a very solid chin. He was never knocked out, and the only time he was ever knocked down was in the second fight with Dempsey in the infamous Long Count.
In 1932, Tunney published a book called A Man Must Fight, in which he gave comments on his career and boxing techniques.
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis had a comedy routine in which Lewis (in boxing shorts and gear) states he's fight'n Gene Tierney (the actress). Martin corrects Lewis and suggests that he must mean "Gene Tunney." Lewis then quips "You fight who you wanna fight, I'm fight'n who I wanna fight, I'm fight'n Gene Tierney."
In the song She Twists the Knife Again from Richard Thompson's 1985 album Across a Crowded Room, describing the mismatched intensity in a strife-ladened relationship, Thompson writes: "I'm in a fist fight/She thinks she's Gene Tunney!"
Mentioned in A Whistle in the Dark (Act 1, p31) by Tom Murphy : 'in the words of the great Gene Tunney, a man must fight back. His father was a Mayoman too'.
Mentioned in the short story "Fallon" by JD Luther, when imprisoned character Tyson Wayne Vance recalls his abusive father, "Was more than one night momma'd look like she went fifteen rounds with Gene Tunney...",
Professional boxing record
|65 Wins (48 Knockouts), 1 Defeat, 1 Draw, 1 No Contest|
|Win||65-1-1||Tom Heeney||TKO||11 (15), 2:52||1928-07-26||Yankee Stadium, New York, New York||Retained World Heavyweight Title|
|Win||64-1-1||Jack Dempsey||UD||10||1927-09-22||Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois||The Long Count Fight
Retained World Heavyweight Title
The Ring magazine's "Fight of the Year" (1927)
|Win||63-1-1||Jack Dempsey||UD||10||1926-09-23||Sesquicentennial Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Won World Heavyweight Title
The Ring magazine's "Fight of the Year" (1926)
|Win||62-1-1||Dan O'Dowd||KO||2 (10), 0:32||1925-12-29||Waterfront Park, Saint Petersburg, Florida|
|Win||N/A||Johnny Risko||NWS||12||1925-11-18||Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||61-1-1||Bartley Madden||KO||3 (10)||1925-09-25||Indoor Hockey Arena, Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|Win||60-1-1||Italian Jack Herman||KO||2 (10)||1925-07-03||Memorial Hall, Kansas City, Missouri|
|Win||59-1-1||Tommy Gibbons||KO||12 (15)||1925-06-05||Polo Grounds, New York, New York|
|Win||N/A||Harry Greb||NWS||10||1925-03-27||Saint Paul Auditorium, Saint Paul, Minnesota||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||N/A||Jeff Smith||NWS||15||1924-12-08||Coliseum Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||58-1-1||Buddy McHale||TKO||2 (8)||1924-11-10||Southern A.C., Tennessee, Memphis|
|Win||57-1-1||Harry Foley||TKO||1 (8), 2:05||1924-10-27||Memphis Auditorium, Tennessee, Memphis|
|Win||56-1-1||Ray Neuman||PTS||10||1924-09-27||Cambria Fairgrounds, Ebensburg, Pennsylvania|
|Draw||N/A||Harry Greb||NWS||10||1924-09-17||Olympic Arena, Cleveland, Ohio||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||55-1-1||Joe Lohman||TKO||8 (12)||1924-08-18||Fairmont Arena, Columbus, Ohio|
|Win||54-1-1||Georges Carpentier||TKO||15 (15), 1:04||1924-07-24||Polo Grounds, New York, New York||The Ring magazine's "Fight of the Year" (1924)|
|Win||53-1-1||Erminio Spalla||TKO||7 (12)||1924-06-26||Yankee Stadium, New York, New York|
|Win||N/A||Jimmy Delaney||NWS||10||1924-03-17||Saint Paul Auditorium, Saint Paul, Minnesota||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||52-1-1||Martin Burke||PTS||15||1924-02-15||Coliseum Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Win||51-1-1||Ray Thompson||KO||2 (10)||1924-01-24||Legion Arena, West Palm Beach, Florida|
|Win||N/A||Harry Foley||NWS||10||1924-01-15||Grand Rapids Coliseum, Grand Rapids, Michigan||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||50-1-1||Harry Greb||UD||15||1923-12-10||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York||Retained American Light Heavyweight Title|
|Win||49-1-1||Dan O'Dowd||PTS||15||1923-07-31||Queensboro Stadium, Queens, New York|
|Win||N/A||Jimmy Delaney||NWS||10||1923-05-16||Chicago Coliseum, Chicago, Illinois||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||48-1-1||Jack Clifford||TKO||8 (10)||1923-05-07||Fair Grounds Coliseum, Detroit, Michigan|
|Win||47-1-1||Harry Greb||SD||15||1923-02-23||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York||Won American Light Heavyweight Title|
|Win||46-1-1||Chuck Wiggins||PTS||12||1923-02-03||Commonwealth Sporting Club, New York, New York|
|NC||45-1-1||Jack Renault||NC||4 (8)||1923-01-29||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|Win||45-1-1||Charley Weinert||KO||4 (15)||1922-11-29||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York|
|Win||44-1-1||Jack Hanlon||KO||1 (12), 1:22||1922-11-03||Clermont Avenue Rink, Brooklyn, New York|
|Win||43-1-1||Chuck Wiggins||PTS||10||1922-10-27||Commercial A.C., Boston, Massachusetts|
|Draw||N/A||Tommy Loughran||NWS||8||1922-08-24||Shibe Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||N/A||Charley Weinert||NWS||12||1922-08-17||Broad A.C., Newark, New Jersey||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||42-1-1||Ray Thompson||KO||3 (10)||1922-08-04||Ocean Park Casino, Long Branch, New Jersey|
|Win||41-1-1||Fay Keiser||PTS||12||1922-07-07||Rockaway Beach Arena, Queens, New York|
|Loss||40-1-1||Harry Greb||UD||15||1922-05-23||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York||Lost American Light Heavyweight Title
The Ring magazine's "Fight of the Year" (1922)
|Win||40-0-1||Jack Burke||TKO||9 (10)||1922-04-10||Motor Square Garden, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania|
|Win||N/A||Fay Keiser||NWS||10||1922-03-03||Armory, Grand Rapids, Michigan||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||39-0-1||Whitey Wenzel||TKO||4 (8)||1922-02-14||Ice Palace, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|Win||38-0-1||Jack Clifford||TKO||6 (12)||1922-02-11||Clermont Avenue Rink, Brooklyn, New York|
|Win||37-0-1||Battling Levinsky||PTS||12||1922-01-13||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York||Won American Light Heavyweight Title|
|Win||36-0-1||Eddie O'Hare||KO||6 (8)||1921-12-22||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York|
|Win||35-0-1||Wolf Larsen||TKO||7 (12), 1:35||1921-10-25||Pioneer Sporting Club, New York, New York|
|Win||34-0-1||Jack Burke||TKO||3 (8)||1921-10-14||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York|
|Win||33-0-1||Herbert Crossley||PTS||7||1921-09-26||Dyckman Oval, New York, New York|
|Win||32-0-1||Eddie Josephs||PTS||12||1921-08-18||Sisco Park, Staten Island, New York|
|Win||31-0-1||Martin Burke||PTS||10||1921-08-04||Dyckman Oval, New York, New York|
|Win||30-0-1||Soldier Jones||TKO||7 (8)||1921-07-02||Boyle's Thirty Acres, Jersey City, New Jersey|
|Win||29-0-1||Johnny Ambrose||KO||1 (12), 2:45||1921-06-28||Pioneer Sporting Club, New York, New York|
|Win||N/A||Leo Houck||NWS||10||1920-12-07||4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||N/A||Leo Houck||NWS||6||1920-11-25||Olympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||N/A||Paul Samson Koerner||NWS||10||1920-10-25||6th Regiment Armory, Paterson, New Jersey||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||28-0-1||Sgt. Ray Smith||TKO||2 (8)||1920-10-22||Sportsman's Club, Camden, New Jersey|
|Win||27-0-1||Ole Anderson||TKO||3 (10)||1920-06-28||4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey|
|Win||26-0-1||Jeff Madden||TKO||2 (12)||1920-06-07||4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey|
|Win||25-0-1||Jack Clifford||KO||3 (10)||1920-04-09||Community Hall, Johnson City, New York|
|Win||24-0-1||K.O. Sullivan||KO||1 (8)||1920-04-05||1st Regiment Armory, Newark, New Jersey|
|Win||23-0-1||Ed Kinley||KO||5 (8)||1920-03-04||Grand View Auditorium, Jersey City, New Jersey|
|Win||22-0-1||Al Roberts||KO||8 (8)||1920-02-02||1st Regiment Armory, Newark, New Jersey|
|Win||21-0-1||Jim Monahan||TKO||1 (8), 2:50||1920-01-26||4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey|
|Win||20-0-1||Bud Nelson||KO||1 (8)||1920-01-20||Schuetzen Park, Bayonne, New Jersey|
|Win||19-0-1||Whitey Allen||KO||2 (8)||1920-01-01||Schuetzen Park, Bayonne, New Jersey|
|Win||18-0-1||Bob Pearce||KO||2 (8)||1919-12-29||4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey|
|Win||N/A||Dan O'Dowd||NWS||8||1919-12-16||Schuetzen Park, Bayonne, New Jersey||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||15-0-1||Dare Lewis||KO||3||1919-03-31||Tours, Indre-et-Loire|
|Draw||13-0-1||Tommy Gavigan||PTS||10||1918-12-20||Romorantin, Loir-et-Cher|
|Win||13-0||Howard Morrow||KO||6||1918-12-10||Romorantin, Loir-et-Cher|
|Win||12-0||Victor KO Marchand||KO||2||1918-12-05||Paris|
|Win||11-0||Johnny Newton||KO||6||1918-11-20||Romorantin, Loir-et-Cher|
|Win||10-0||Hank Werhl||KO||6||1918-11-01||Romorantin, Loir-et-Cher|
|Win||9-0||Young Guerini||KO||1 (8)||1918-07-08||4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey|
|Win||8-0||Hugh Weir||KO||2 (10)||1918-01-15||Pioneer Sporting Club, New York, New York|
|Win||7-0||Joe Borrell||KO||2 (10)||1917-12-28||New Polo A.C., New York, New York|
|Win||6-0||Sailor Wolfe||KO||2 (10)||1916-12-29||Miners 8th St Theater, New York, New York|
|Win||N/A||George Leahy||NWS||6||1916-12-22||Miners 8th St Theater, New York, New York||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||5-0||Young Sharkey||KO||6 (10)||1916-12-15||Miners 8th St Theater, New York, New York|
|Win||4-0||Young Guerini||TKO||8 (10)||1916-12-08||Miners 8th St Theater, New York, New York|
|Draw||N/A||KO Jaffe||NWS||10||1916-07-21||New Polo A.C., New York, New York||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||N/A||Billy Rowe||NWS||6||1915-12-01||Fairmont A.C., Bronx, New York||Newspaper Decision|
|Win||3-0||George Leahy||KO||2 (6)||1915-08-28||Fairmont A.C., Bronx, New York|
|Win||2-0||Battling Genrimo||KO||3 (10)||1915-08-06||Miners 8th St Theater, New York, New York|
|Win||1-0||Bobby Dawson||TKO||8 (10)||1915-07-03||Sharkey A.C., New York, New York|
- List of heavyweight boxing champions
- International Boxing Hall of Fame
- Ring Magazine fighters of the year
- List of undisputed boxing champions
- Boxing in the 1920s
- List of people on the cover of Time Magazine: 1920s - 30 August 1926
- "Tunney was Lumberjack for Ottawa Company". The Globe. September 28, 1926. p. 9.
- "Tunney, Boxing Champion Who Beat Dempsey, Dies. Lectured on Shakespeare.". New York Times. November 8, 1978. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
Gene Tunney, the former heavyweight boxing champion who twice defeated Jack Dempsey, died yesterday at the Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut. He was 80 years old and had been suffering from a circulation ailment.
- Gene Tierney: A Shattered Portrait, The Biography Channel. March 26, 1999
- Gene Tunney's Professional Boxing Record. BoxRec.com. Retrieved on 2014-05-03.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Gene Tunney|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gene Tunney.|
- Gene Tunney of Kiltimagh Lineage
- Review of 2006 Gene Tunney biography
- Professional boxing record for Gene Tunney from BoxRec
- Gene Tunney at Find a Grave
- Gene Tunney vs. Jack Dempsey (second match)
|World Heavyweight Champion
September 23, 1926 – July 31, 1928