2 minute read

Gene Tunney

Undefeated To The End

Tunney defended his title once more before hanging up his gloves for good. This was in a match with Tom Heeney in New York City on July 26, 1928. Tunney won that match after ten rounds in a technical knockout, allowing him to retire undefeated, the first heavyweight champion to do so.

Awards and Accomplishments

Tunney was defeated only once in is professional boxing career, retiring with a record of seventy-six wins to his one loss. He was the first heavy-weight champion to retire without losing his title.
1919 American Expeditionary Force light heavyweight champion
1922 Light heavyweight champion of North America
1923 Light heavyweight champion of North America (regains title)
1926-28 Heavyweight champion of the world
1990 Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame

Two Flaws in Tunney's Public Life; Gene Tunney: A Man in Search of Oblivion

Gene Tunney should have been the living portrait of the certified American hero. He was the young handsome stalwart fighting Marine of World War I, square-jawed and fearless….

But complete admiration escaped Tunney. The flaws were two. He was the man who beat a popular idol when he twice destroyed Dempsey. And … he lacked the common touch, choosing to hang out with scholars.

Source: Povich, Shirley. Washington Post. (November 10, 1978): C1

Tunney led a full and active life following his retirement from boxing. He married Mary Josephine ("Polly") Lauder, niece of a steel baron Andrew Carnegie on October 3, 1928, and then started what was to be a lucrative career in business. After the United States entered World War II in 1942, Tunney served in the U. S. Navy. On his return from the war, he returned to his business career, seeking to remain out of the public eye for much of the remainder of his life. In 1945, he contributed an entry on boxing for the Encyclopedia Britannica, and in the 1950s and 1960s, he joined forces with his friend Jack Dempsey to argue before congress for the creation of a national commission that would oversee boxing.

Known for his intellect and appreciation for literature, Tunney befriended noted author and sportsman Ernest Hemingway as well as renown playwright and boxing fan George Bernard Shaw. He himself penned three books, Boxing and Training, A Man Must Fight, and Arms for Living. Tunney had four children, one of whom, John Varick Tunney, went on to become a member of the United States Senate representing California. Tunney died in 1978 at the age of eighty.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsBoxingGene Tunney Biography - A Boxing New Yorker, First North America, Then The World, Chronology, The "battle Of The Long Count" - SELECTED WRITINGS BY TUNNEY: