James Raj "Gene" Tunney (May 25, 1897 – November 7, 1978) was an American professional boxer who competed from 1915 to 1928. He held the world heavyweight title from 1926 to 1928, and the American light heavyweight title twice between 1922 and 1923. A highly technical boxer, Tunney had a five-fight light heavyweight rivalry with Harry Greb in which he won three, drew once, and lost once, though many ringside reporters believed Greb should have won the decision in their 2nd meeting. He also 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 undefeated as a heavyweight after his victory over Tom Heeney in 1928, after which Tunney was named Fighter of the Year by The Ring magazine.
Tunney c. 1925
|Real name||James Joseph Tunney|
|Nickname(s)||The Fighting Marine|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Reach||76 in (193 cm)|
|Born||May 25, 1897|
New York City, U.S.
|Died||November 7, 1978 (aged 81)|
Greenwich, Connecticut, U.S.
|Wins by KO||49|
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 New York Police Department detective from 1924 to 1951, dying in 1971, while Gene would become famous as a World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. At an early age, Tunney was inspired by President Theodore Roosevelt to become physically fit.
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.
Tunney enlisted the Marine Corps during World War I and served as Private with 11th Marine Regiment in France and later in Germany during the occupation of the Rhineland in 1919. He saw no combat and spent most of the war in the Marine boxing team, becoming U.S. Expeditionary Forces champion. Tunney was demobilized following the war, but remained in the Marine Corps Reserve, ultimately reaching the rank of Major in the Connecticut Naval Militia.
Following the United States entry into World War II, at the request of Navy Undersecretary James Forrestal, Tunney accepted a commission in the United States Naval Reserve as a lieutenant commander to set up a physical fitness program for student pilots. He headed the Navy's physical fitness programme for the duration of the war and also made inspection trip to Hawaii and surrounding area.
Tunney was consecutively promoted to the ranks of Commander and Captain and retired shortly following the War. For his wartime service, he was decorated with the Navy Commendation Medal and also held World War I Victory Medal with France Clasp, Army of Occupation of Germany Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal for his World War I enlisted service.
In 1928, Tunney married a wealthy socialite, the former Mary "Polly" Lauder (April 24, 1907 – April 19, 2008). Mrs. Tunney was born into the Lauder Greenway Family; her grandfather was billionaire George Lauder, a first cousin and business partner of industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. 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.
After Mr. Tunney's retirement, the couple lived in Stamford, Connecticut and raised four children. They had three boys including John Varick Tunney (1934–2018), who was a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from California from 1965 until 1977; Jonathan "Jay" Rowland Tunney of Stamford, Connecticut; and Gene Lauder Tunney (1931-2009) who became a lawyer and served as district attorney for Sonoma County, California, for 20 years. Their one daughter was Joan Tunney Wilkinson (1939 – 2008) of San Francisco. who was committed to McLean Hospital on June 6, 1970, after she murdered her husband, Lynn Carter Wilkinson Jr.
Tunney died on November 7, 1978 at the Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut at the age of eighty-one, after suffering from a circulation ailment. He was interred at Long Ridge Union Cemetery in Stamford, Connecticut.
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. 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 was never knocked out, while only ever being knocked down once, that in his second fight with Dempsey in the infamous Long Count. This makes him one of only five Heavyweight champions, alongside Rocky Marciano, Riddick Bowe, Sultan Ibragimov and Nicolai Valuev to retire without ever suffering a stoppage defeat. Tunney, along with Marciano, Lewis and Vitali Klitschko is one of four heavyweight champions to have retired as champion and to have ended their career with a win in a world title fight. Having avenged his only defeat to Harry Greb, with whom he also drew), Tunney joins Ingemar Johansson, Rocky Marciano, Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe as the only five heavyweight champions to have retired while holding a victory over every opponent he faced as a professional (barring no-contests).
In 1932, Tunney published a book called A Man Must Fight, in which he gave comments on his career and boxing techniques.
The Tunney CupEdit
In 1928, the U.S. Marine Corps presented – as a sign of friendship – a challenge cup to the Corps of Royal Marines, in the hope it might be competed for by Royal Marines association football teams. The Royal Marines named the trophy the "Tunney Cup," in honor of then–USMC Captain Tunney, who, with Sergeant Major Charles R. Francis, presented the trophy on behalf of the U.S. Marine Corps.
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, pg. 31) 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...",
The novelette "A KO for Christmas" by Shawn Pollock features a character, Stitch Stanford, who hopes to fight Gene Tunney for the heavyweight title.
Professional boxing recordEdit
|85 fights||65 wins||1 loss|
|85||Win||65–1–1 (18)||Tom Heeney||TKO||11 (15), 2:52||26 Jul 1928||Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, U.S.||Retained NBA, NYSAC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|84||Win||64–1–1 (18)||Jack Dempsey||UD||10||22 Sep 1927||Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.||Retained NBA, NYSAC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|83||Win||63–1–1 (18)||Jack Dempsey||UD||10||23 Sep 1926||Sesquicentennial Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.||Won NBA, NYSAC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|82||Win||62–1–1 (18)||Dan O'Dowd||KO||2 (10), 0:31||29 Dec 1925||Waterfront Park, Saint Petersburg, Florida, U.S.|
|81||Win||61–1–1 (18)||Johnny Risko||NWS||12||18 Nov 1925||Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.|
|80||Win||61–1–1 (17)||Bartley Madden||KO||3 (10)||25 Sep 1925||Minneapolis Arena, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.|
|79||Win||60–1–1 (17)||Italian Jack Herman||KO||2 (10)||3 Jul 1925||Memorial Hall, Kansas City, Kansas, U.S.|
|78||Win||59–1–1 (17)||Tommy Gibbons||KO||12 (15)||5 Jun 1925||Polo Grounds, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|77||Win||58–1–1 (17)||Harry Greb||NWS||10||27 Mar 1925||Auditorium, Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.|
|76||Win||58–1–1 (16)||Jeff Smith||NWS||15||8 Dec 1924||Coliseum Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.|
|75||Win||58–1–1 (15)||Buddy McHale||TKO||2 (8)||10 Nov 1924||Southern Athletic Club, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.|
|74||Win||57–1–1 (15)||Harry Foley||TKO||1 (8), 2:05||27 Oct 1924||Auditorium, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.|
|73||Win||56–1–1 (15)||Ray Neuman||PTS||10||27 Sep 1924||Cambria County Fairgrounds, Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|72||Draw||55–1–1 (15)||Harry Greb||NWS||10||17 Sep 1924||Olympic Arena, Brooklyn, Ohio, U.S.|
|71||Win||55–1–1 (14)||Joe Lohman||TKO||8 (12)||18 Aug 1924||Fairmont Arena, Columbus, Ohio, U.S.|
|70||Win||54–1–1 (14)||Georges Carpentier||TKO||15 (15), 0:14||24 Jul 1924||Polo Grounds, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|69||Win||53–1–1 (14)||Erminio Spalla||TKO||7 (12)||26 Jun 1924||Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, U.S.|
|68||Win||52–1–1 (14)||Jimmy Delaney||NWS||10||17 Mar 1924||Auditorium, Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.|
|67||Win||52–1–1 (13)||Martin Burke||PTS||15||15 Feb 1924||Coliseum Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.|
|66||Win||51–1–1 (13)||Ray Thompson||KO||2 (10)||24 Jan 1924||Legion Arena, West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|65||Win||50–1–1 (13)||Harry Foley||NWS||10||15 Jan 1924||Coliseum, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.|
|64||Win||50–1–1 (12)||Harry Greb||UD||15||10 Dec 1923||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained American light-heavyweight title|
|63||Win||49–1–1 (12)||Dan O'Dowd||PTS||12||31 Jul 1923||Queensboro Stadium, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|62||Win||48–1–1 (12)||Jimmy Delaney||NWS||10||16 May 1923||Chicago Coliseum, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.|
|61||Win||48–1–1 (11)||Jack Clifford||TKO||8 (10)||7 May 1923||Fair Grounds Coliseum, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.|
|60||Win||47–1–1 (11)||Harry Greb||SD||15||23 Feb 1923||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Won American light-heavyweight title|
|59||Win||46–1–1 (11)||Chuck Wiggins||PTS||12||3 Feb 1923||Commonwealth Sporting Club, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|58||NC||45–1–1 (11)||Jack Renault||NC||4 (8)||29 Jan 1923||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|57||Win||45–1–1 (10)||Charley Weinert||KO||4 (15)||29 Nov 1922||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|56||Win||44–1–1 (10)||Jack Hanlon||KO||1 (12), 1:22||3 Nov 1922||Clermont Avenue Skating Rink, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.|
|55||Win||43–1–1 (10)||Chuck Wiggins||PTS||10||27 Oct 1922||Mechanics Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|54||Draw||42–1–1 (10)||Tommy Loughran||NWS||8||24 Aug 1922||Shibe Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|53||Win||42–1–1 (9)||Charley Weinert||NWS||12||17 Aug 1922||Broad Athletic Club, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.|
|52||Win||42–1–1 (8)||Ray Thompson||KO||3 (10)||4 Aug 1922||Ocean Park Casino, Long Branch, New Jersey, U.S.|
|51||Win||41–1–1 (8)||Fay Keiser||PTS||12||7 Jul 1922||Rockaway Beach Arena, Queens, New York, U.S.|
|50||Loss||40–1–1 (8)||Harry Greb||UD||15||23 May 1922||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Lost American light-heavyweight title|
|49||Win||40–0–1 (8)||Jack Burke||TKO||9 (10)||10 Apr 1922||Motor Square Garden, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|48||Win||39–0–1 (8)||Fay Keiser||NWS||10||3 Mar 1922||Armory, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.|
|47||Win||39–0–1 (7)||Whitey Wenzel||TKO||4 (8)||14 Feb 1922||Philadelphia_Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|46||Win||38–0–1 (7)||Jack Clifford||TKO||6 (12), 2:50||11 Feb 1922||Clermont Avenue Skating Rink, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.|
|45||Win||37–0–1 (7)||Battling Levinsky||PTS||12||13 Jan 1922||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Won American light-heavyweight title|
|44||Win||36–0–1 (7)||Eddie O'Hare||KO||6 (8)||22 Dec 1921||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|43||Win||35–0–1 (7)||Wolf Larsen||TKO||7 (12), 1:35||25 Oct 1921||Pioneer Sporting Club, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|42||Win||34–0–1 (7)||Jack Burke||TKO||3 (8)||14 Oct 1921||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|41||Win||33–0–1 (7)||Herbert Crossley||PTS||7||26 Sep 1921||Dyckman Oval, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|40||Win||32–0–1 (7)||Eddie Josephs||PTS||12||18 Aug 1921||Sisco Park, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|39||Win||31–0–1 (7)||Martin Burke||PTS||10||4 Aug 1921||Dyckman Oval, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|38||Win||30–0–1 (7)||Soldier Jones||TKO||7 (8)||2 Jul 1921||Boyle's Thirty Acres, Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|37||Win||29–0–1 (7)||Johnny Ambrose||KO||1 (12), 2:45||28 Jun 1921||Pioneer Sporting Club, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|36||Win||28–0–1 (7)||Leo Hauck||NWS||10||7 Dec 1920||4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|35||Win||28–0–1 (6)||Leo Hauck||NWS||6||25 Nov 1920||Olympia Athletic Club, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|34||Win||28–0–1 (5)||Paul Samson Koerner||NWS||10||25 Oct 1920||6th Regiment Armory, Paterson, New Jersey, U.S.|
|33||Win||28–0–1 (4)||Sergeant Ray Smith||TKO||2 (8)||22 Oct 1920||Sportsman's Club, Camden, New Jersey, U.S.|
|32||Win||27–0–1 (4)||Ole Anderson||TKO||3 (10), 0:40||28 Jun 1920||4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|31||Win||26–0–1 (4)||Jeff Madden||TKO||2 (12)||7 Jun 1920||4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|30||Win||25–0–1 (4)||Jack Clifford||KO||3 (10)||9 Apr 1920||Community Hall, Johnson City, New York, U.S.|
|29||Win||24–0–1 (4)||K.O. Sullivan||KO||1 (8), 2:15||5 Apr 1920||1st Regiment Armory, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.|
|28||Win||23–0–1 (4)||Ed Kinley||KO||5 (8)||4 Mar 1920||Grand View Auditorium, Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|27||Win||22–0–1 (4)||Al Roberts||KO||8 (8), 1:06||2 Feb 1920||1st Regiment Armory, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.|
|26||Win||21–0–1 (4)||Jim Monahan||KO||1 (8), 2:50||26 Jan 1920||4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|25||Win||20–0–1 (4)||Bud Nelson||KO||1 (8)||20 Jan 1920||Schuetzen Park, Bayonne, New Jersey, U.S.|
|24||Win||19–0–1 (4)||Whitey Allen||KO||2 (8)||1 Jan 1920||Schuetzen Park, Bayonne, New Jersey, U.S.|
|23||Win||18–0–1 (4)||Bob Pearce||KO||2 (8)||29 Dec 1919||4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|22||Win||17–0–1 (4)||Dan O'Dowd||NWS||8||16 Dec 1919||Schuetzen Park, Bayonne, New Jersey, U.S.|
|21||Win||17–0–1 (3)||Ted Jamieson||PTS||10||26 Apr 1919||Cirque de Paris, Paris, France||Won American Expeditionary Forces light-heavyweight title|
|20||Win||16–0–1 (3)||K.O. Sullivan||PTS||10||14 Apr 1919||Paris, France|
|19||Win||15–0–1 (3)||Dare Lewis||KO||3||31 Mar 1919||Tours, Paris, France|
|18||Win||14–0–1 (3)||Bob Martin||PTS||4||27 Jan 1919||Salle Wagram, Paris, France|
|17||Win||13–0–1 (3)||Victor Marchand||KO||2||9 Jan 1919||Paris, France|
|16||Draw||12–0–1 (3)||Tommy Gavigan||PTS||10||20 Dec 1918||Romorantin-Lanthenay, Loir-et-Cher, France|
|15||Win||12–0 (3)||Howard Morrow||KO||6||10 Dec 1918||Romorantin-Lanthenay, Loir-et-Cher, France|
|14||Win||11–0 (3)||Johnny Newton||KO||6||20 Nov 1918||Romorantin-Lanthenay, Loir-et-Cher, France|
|13||Win||10–0 (3)||Hank Werhl||KO||6||1 Nov 1918||Romorantin-Lanthenay, Loir-et-Cher, France|
|12||Win||9–0 (3)||Young Guerini||KO||1 (8)||8 Jul 1918||4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|11||Win||8–0 (3)||Hugh Weir||KO||2 (10)||15 Jan 1918||Pioneer Sporting Club, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|10||Win||7–0 (3)||Joe Borrell||KO||2 (10)||28 Dec 1917||New Polo Athletic Club, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|9||Win||6–0 (3)||Sailor Wolfe||KO||2 (10)||29 Dec 1916||Miners 8th St Theater, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|8||Win||5–0 (3)||George Leahy||NWS||6||22 Dec 1916||Miners 8th St Theater, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|7||Win||5–0 (2)||Young Sharkey||KO||6 (10)||15 Dec 1916||Miners 8th St Theater, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|6||Win||4–0 (2)||Young Guerini||TKO||8 (10)||8 Dec 1916||Miners 8th St Theater, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|5||Draw||3–0 (2)||KO Jaffe||NWS||10||21 Jul 1916||New Polo Athletic Club, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|4||Win||3–0 (1)||Billy Rowe||NWS||6||1 Dec 1915||Fairmont Athletic Club, Bronx, New York, U.S.|
|3||Win||3–0||George Leahy||KO||2 (6)||28 Aug 1915||Fairmont Athletic Club, Bronx, New York, U.S.|
|2||Win||2–0||Battling Genrimo||KO||3 (10)||6 Aug 1915||Miner's Bowery Theatre, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|1||Win||1–0||Bobby Dawson||TKO||8 (10)||3 Jul 1915||Sharkey Athletic Club, New York City, New York, U.S.|
- Morris, Edmund (2001). The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. New York: Random House. p. xvii. ISBN 9781400069651.
- "Tunney was Lumberjack for Ottawa Company". The Globe. September 28, 1926. p. 9.
- "D-Day vet relives battle with GW sailors - All Hands, The Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin; August 1994; page 47" (PDF). navy.mil. United States Navy Websites. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
- (State), California. "California. Court of Appeal (1st Appellate District). Records and Briefs: A041019, Respondent Brief".
- Deceased Members - Mount Holyoke College
- "Mr. Tunney's Letters". The Daily Herald. 27 May 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
- "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.
- Foster, Shaun. "A Brief History of the Royal Marines Football Association". Royal Marines Football Association. Archived from the original on 2016-02-23. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
- "The USMC Challenge Trophy (The Tunney Cup)". Royal Marines Football Association. Archived from the original on 2016-02-23. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
- Gene Tierney: A Shattered Portrait, The Biography Channel. March 26, 1999
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Gene Tunney|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gene Tunney.|
- Works by Gene Tunney at Open Library
- Boxing record for Gene Tunney from BoxRec
- Gene Tunney at Find a Grave
- Gene Tunney profile at Cyber Boxing Zone
- Boxing Hall of Fame
|World boxing titles|
| The Ring heavyweight champion
September 23, 1926 – July 31, 1928
Title next held byMax Schmeling
| World heavyweight champion|
September 23, 1926 – July 31, 1928