Jess Willard

Heavyweight Champion of the World (1915–1919)


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SKU: 9781476664446 Categories: , Tags: ,

About the Book

Jess Willard, the “Pottawatomie Giant,” won the heavyweight title in 1915 with his defeat of Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion. At 6 feet, 6 inches and 240 pounds, Willard was considered unbeatable in his day. He nonetheless lost to Jack Dempsey in 1919 in one of the most brutally one-sided contests in fistic history. Willard later made an initially successful comeback but was defeated by Luis Firpo in 1923 and retired from the ring. He died in 1968, largely forgotten by the boxing public. Featuring photographs from the Willard family archives, this first full-length biography provides a detailed portrait of one of America’s boxing greats.

About the Author(s)

Arly Allen was president of Allen Press, Inc., a scholarly printer and publisher for many years until his retirement in 1993. He then began research on the early history of boxing and has published a number of articles on boxing. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas.

Bibliographic Details

Arly Allen with the assistance of James Willard Mace

Foreword by Tracy Callis

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 300
Bibliographic Info: 39 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6444-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2637-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword by Tracy Callis 1
Preface 3
1. The Defeat of Jack Johnson and the Triumph of tthe Great White Hope 5
2. Growing Up in Kansas and Boxing in Oklahoma 35
3. The White Hope Era (1911–1912) 55
4. 1913: A Year of Consequences 72
5. 1914: The Rise of Willard and the Destruction of Championship Boxing in California 99
6. Show Business 111
7. Back to the Ring: 1915–1916 135
8. The World War and Fred Fulton 158
9. 1919 and the Battle with Jack Dempsey 179
10. Jess Willard Returns 209
11. Final Thoughts 240
Chapter Notes 249
Bibliography 285
Index 289

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Lively story…all enjoy reading this book…Willard deserves the attention of boxing fans and this book is the place to start”—Boston Post-Gazette
  • “Not a lot has been written about Jess Willard…That oversight has now been rectified with the very detailed account of the Pottawatomie Giant’s life written by Arly Allen”—Boxing Over Broadway
  • “The most thorough biography of its subject to date”—The Sweet Science