top of page

Jack Dempsey Speaks out on Liston and Clay

Mar. 13, 1964 - “A real champion doesn’t quit sitting on his pants in his corner,” Jack Dempsey said today. He was talking about Sonny Liston, the dethroned heavyweight king. (Pictured below right, Dempsey fights Tom Gibbons in 1923.)

As for Cassius Clay, the man who deposed Liston, Dempsey said, “I don’t think he’s a real American. I don’t know much about the Black Muslims, but if it’s true they hate all white people, then I don’t think it’s right.”

Dempsey, 68 years old now and one of the most colorful figures in ring history, was honored by Speaker of the House John McCormack, who gave him a citation for clean sportsmanship.

“This is the nicest thing that ever happened to me,” Dempsey said as he was handed the plaque. “I am overwhelmed.”

Dempsey met reporters and made it quite clear that he doesn’t think much of today’s boxing. “Either clean it up, or get rid of it,” he said. “Either it’s right or it’s wrong. But if you banned it, you’d get bootleg boxing, and that would be worse.”

Dempsey advocated a national boxing commission to “get rid of undesirables in the sport.” He included the new champion in that category because of Clay’s avowed membership in the separatist Black Muslim organization.


bottom of page