Author(s): Jack Dempsey
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2015)
Among the legendary fighters in Western Boxing history, one stands out as Boxing’s first Knockout King. Born as William Harrison, “Jack” Dempsey, also known as “Kid Blackie” and “The Manassa Mauler”, was an American professional boxer, who became a cultural icon of the 1920s.
On Independence Day in 1919, Jack Dempsey had his first big break—a fight against the man who, at that time, held the World Heavyweight Champion title, Jess Willard. Nicknamed “The Great White Hope,” Willard was literally a giant in the sport, who stood an intimidating 1.99m tall and weighed 107kgs. No one in the Boxing world thought that Dempsey, who was only 1.85m, 85kgs, stood a chance. Despite his enormous disadvantage in size, Dempsey destroyed Willard with his superior speed and punching power, knocking the bigger man out in the third round to earn the World Heavyweight Champion title.
In 1950, Jack Dempsey penned Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense, which has become a classic among books on the subject of Western Boxing. Like other books on the subject, Dempsey covers subjects, such as Footwork, Range, Hooking, Uppercuts, as well as general defensive concepts, such as Evasion, Feinting and Drawing. However, there are a few subjects that Dempsey covers that make this book quite different from others and of particular value to those both inside and outside of Western Boxing.
In the chapter, “Differences Between Fist-Fighting and Boxing”, Dempsey points out some clear distinctions between the use of strategy and tactics on the street, rather than in the ring. This chapter is much-needed “food for thought” for many martial artists, who have far too much sport mixed into their self-defence training.
The Wing Chun practitioner will find this book particularly interesting, due to Dempsey’s explanation of what he calls the “Straight Jolt”, which is his understanding of the most practical power structure for delivering a punch.
The Wing Chun student will quickly realise that Western Boxing’s first “Knockout King” was delivering his punch in exactly the same structure as that of our beloved art of Wing Chun. Unlike the corkscrew-like punch thrown by modern boxers, Dempsey’s punch was short, direct and vertical in structure—just like the Wing Chun punch. The striking surface was the middle two knuckles and the knuckle of the little finger, not the index and middle knuckle popular with most boxers. Dempsey states, “At least nine of every ten fellows who try to box never become good punchers, because they never learn how to make their arms and fists serve efficiently as conveyors and exploders.”
Dempsey describes in detail the components of the explosive punch that made him the “Kayo Kid.” In the chapters, “What is a Punch”, “The Falling Step”, “The Power Line” and “Relaying and Exploding”, he explains the key components that helped him develop a tested and proven “man stopper” in a fight.
Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense is a classic among old school boxers and has much to offer the modern martial artist. Personally, I believe that at the cover price of US$17.00, no martial artist’s library should be missing this treasure.