What Was Boxing Like in the 1920s?


Quick Answer

Although U.S. boxing increased in popularity in the 1920s, it was significantly different from modern times in that segregation hindered African-American participation. Events were sanctioned by the National Boxing Association, formed in 1921, which later became the World Boxing Association. The most dominant fighter from the decade was Jack Dempsey.

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Full Answer

While Jack Johnson broke the color barrier years earlier, holding the heavyweight title from 1908 to 1915, no black fighter would even contend for the title again until 1937. Such segregation slowly dissipated in 1929 with the onset of the Great Depression.

Dempsey earned the nickname "Manassa Mauler," named for his Colorado hometown, and held the World Heavyweight title from 1919 to 1926, before being upended by Gene Tunney. Known for his aggressive style and powerful punch, Dempsey trailed only Babe Ruth as the most polarizing sports figure of the 1920s.

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