Nonpareil Dempsey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Nonpareil Jack Dempsey
Nonpareil Jack Dempsey portrait.jpg
Real nameJohn Edward Kelly
Height1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
NationalityRepublic of Ireland Irish
Born(1862-12-15)December 15, 1862
Curran, County Kildare, Ireland
DiedNovember 2, 1895(1895-11-02) (aged 32)
Portland, Oregon
Boxing record
Total fights67
Wins by KO23
No contests1

John Edward Kelly (December 15, 1862 – November 1, 1895) was an Irish-born American boxer, better known as Nonpareil Jack Dempsey who was the first holder of the World Middleweight Championship. He was nicknamed "Nonpareil" because of his reputation of being unbeatable.


Dempsey was born on December 15, 1862 in Curran, County Kildare, Ireland.[1]

Fitzsimmons knocks down Dempsey in New Orleans, 1891

In Dempsey's first 65 contests, he lost only 3 times (to George LaBlanche (a loss he avenged) and to Billy Baker twice (both bouts were fixed to have Baker win)).[2] This ended when Bob Fitzsimmons pummelled him around the ring and begged him to concede before he was hurt any more. Dempsey, the reigning champion, would not give up; the fight continued and Fitzsimmons knocked him out in round 13. In his final bout, Dempsey, suffering from tuberculosis, lost to Tommy Ryan.

Though Dempsey beat his first battle with tuberculosis, he died at the Portland, Oregon home of his wife's parents on November 1, 1895 at 32 due to a recurrence of the disease.[3] He was buried in an unmarked grave at Mount Calvary Cemetery. M. James Brady, Dempsey's father-in-law, refused to permit former World Champion John L. Sullivan and John S. Barnes to raise funds to erect a monument over Dempsey's grave. The family believed that the four-foot marble shaft was a sufficient memorial. The matter was thus dropped.[4]

Dempsey was inducted into the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954, and into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992.[5]

Notable bouts[edit]

Result Opponent Type Rd., Time Date Location Notes[6]
Loss United States Tommy Ryan TKO 3 (15) 1895-01-18 United States Sea Side A.C., Coney Island, New York
Loss United Kingdom Bob Fitzsimmons RTD 13 1891-01-14 United States Olympia Club, New Orleans, Louisiana Lost World Middleweight Title.
Draw United States Professor Mike Donovan PTS 6 1888-11-15 United States Palace Rink, Williamsburg, New York
Draw United Kingdom Jack Burke PTS 10 1886-11-22 United States Mechanic's Pavilion, San Francisco, California
Win United States Professor Mike Donovan PTS 4 1886-01-15 United States Germania Assembly Rooms, New York, New York


  1. ^ Callis, Tracy (January 1999). ""Nonpareil" Jack Dempsey…slick and quick". Cyber Boxing Zone Journal.
  2. ^ Ring Sports Magazine. (Reno, Nevada) April 1994.
  3. ^ Mt. Calvary Cemetery
  4. ^ Tacoma Daily Times, Tacoma, Washington, 13 March 1909.
  5. ^ Callis, Tracy. ""Nonpareil" Jack Dempsey (John Edward Kelly)". Cyber Boxing Zone Journal.
  6. ^ Nonpareil Dempsey's Professional Boxing Record. Retrieved on 2014-05-18.

External links[edit]

Inaugural Champion World Middleweight Champion
July 30, 1884 – January 14, 1891
Succeeded by
Bob Fitzsimmons