1923 title bout has some ties to St. Paul - May 9, 1997

WHAT: Dempsey-Gibbons fight
WHEN: 7 p.m. today
WHERE: Classic Sports, Continental and Paragon cable systems

Brian Lambert
Staff Columnist

Maybe this is the future of the media. A St. Paul woman, Maggie Simpson (go ahead, we're sure she's heard all the jokes), writes a letter to her local system, Continental Cablevision in this case, wondering if this new channel, Classic Sports, has any way of tracking down film footage of a July 4, 1923, heavyweight title fight.

The added twist? The fight featured boxing legend Jack Dempsey fighting one Tommy Gibbons, a St. Paul native and Simpson's great-uncle in -- and this is the good part -- Shelby, Mont.

Continental's local boss, Fran Zeuli, expedited Simpson's request, and the Classic Sports Network put its researchers to work.

Lo and behold! They uncovered footage of the 15-round fight, which ended with the referee giving Dempsey the decision to the outrage of the pro-Gibbons crowd. Legend has it that Dempsey and his people collected their guaranteed purse of $300,000 and beat a retreat out of Shelby -- which might as well have been Magnitovorsk for its proximity to any normal title-fight venue -- before someone got lynched.

The footage, hosted by Dick Schaap, airs tonight at 7 on Channel 71 (the Classic Sports Network) for those connected to the Continental system.

So go ahead, ask them if they've got footage of that grand slam you hit in Inver Grove Heights Little League back in '68.


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