Perhaps the most bizarre of all the heavyweight-returning-from-retirement tales, in 1940 Jack Dempsey was 45 years old and desperately in need of money.
While Dempsey was refereeing a wrestling match in Atlanta, he got into an argument with a notorious mat villain, Clarence (Cowboy) Luttrell. The two exchanged words and swings, and a few days later, Luttrell issued a challenge.
"I've licked tougher guys than Jack Dempsey," he bragged to a reporter. "There's never been a boxer who could beat a good wrestler. I want to be known as the guy who K.O.'d Dempsey."
Boxer vs. Wrestler, Jack Dempsey vs. Clarence Cowboy Luttrell
The fight was booked for the night of July 1, 1940 at Atlanta's Ponce de Leon Park.
On fight night a crowd of 12,000 showed up at the stadium. People cheered as the paunchy, 205-pound Dempsey, who hadn't trained a minute for the match, made his way to the ring.
The bout was as quick as it was brutal. Dempsey, his foot and hand speed gone, nonetheless pounded the clumsy 226-pound Luttrell to the canvas four times, battering his face into a bloody mask. Early in the second round, an exhausted Dempsey caught Luttrell flush on the jaw with a left hook, knocking him head over heels through the ropes and into the first row, where he struck his head on a camera case and lost consciousness.
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