On the Road Again With Jack Dempsey

Damon Runyon

Richmond Times-Dispatch/January 3, 1924

NEW YORK, Jan. 1. The most restless man in all the world resumed his interminable wandering today. Jack Dempsey sailed on the Clyde liner Comanche for Jacksonville, Fla. With him went Teddy Hayes, former Milwaukee boxer, whose status in Dempsey’s camp is sometimes placed as that of secretary for want of a better name. Hayes is really more a companion, “pal” to Dempsey than anything else. Next to Kearns, the champion’s manager, Hayes is Dempsey’s most intimate friend, an affable, sunny little fellow.

Hayes and Dempsey had a misunderstanding some months ago that separated them for a while.

In the hold of the Comanche, Dempsey has Kearns’ big roadster, newly painted a bright yellow. It will be unloaded at Jacksonville. From there Dempsey and Hayes will motor down through Florida.

The roadster will not look the same when they return. Dempsey and Hayes will alternate at the wheel. Motor cars under Dempsey’s handing on a long trip get rough treatment.

Their destination is Miami. They will stop at Palm Beach and other points en route. They may be gone ten days. They may be gone three weeks. They may be gone only long enough for them to hit Jacksonville and catch the next train back.

The champion of the world is restless as the wind and as uncertain.

Some time ago this writer, in an article in Hearst’s International Magazine dealing with Dempsey’s personality, told something of his restless nature, of his eternal fever for wandering.

Some readers thought we exaggerated for effect. The journey on which Dempsey has just embarked is typical of his sudden decisions toward traveling, of his itching feet, his restless nature.

The snort of a locomotive gives him “hot luggage.” A picture of a far-off place fills him with strange yearnings. He is always looking toward the distant horizon, never satisfied with the place where he is.

Dempsey came to New York from the Pacific Coast shortly before Christmas, the fourth or fifth time in a year he had traveled across the continent for no particular reason.

In Los Angeles for several weeks he had been expressing a desire to be in the big town again. He was here three or four days when he suddenly moved out to Freddy Welsh’s training camp at Summit, N. J.

He came back into New York for the holidays, bounced around town a few days, visiting a hundred different places in the course of his waking hours, never remaining in one place more than a few minutes.

Then one night he suddenly told Hayes to get reservations on a boat bound for Jacksonville, and commandeered Kearns’ brightly painted roadster.

He kept his plans secret. Only Hayes and Kearns knew he was going and where he was going. Dempsey has never before been in Florida, which is perhaps why he picked that destination.

Dempsey has never been in Cuba. If, while in Florida, he is told of the glories of the “Pearl of the Antilles” next heard of him will probably be Havana.

At Palm Beach, Dempsey will see one old friend. Palm Beach is the habitat of the famous Broadway expatriate, Wilson Mizner. once one of the familiar figures along the big bright aisle.

Several years ago Wilson—“Bill” to his friends—playwright, bon vivant, man-about-tables, suddenly disappeared from his old haunts, later to be discovered in Palm Beach, wearing overalls and associated with his brother, Addison Mizner, in the manufacture of the red tile with which Florida buildings are roofed.

Wilson Mizner formerly managed Stanley Ketchel, “the Michigan Assassin,” dead these dozen years. Mizner was always a great pugilistic fan and is a great admirer or Dempsey.

Mizner and Dempsey’s manager, Kearns, were contemporaries in their youth in the old home town, San Francisco. Mizner will see that Kearns’ “Million-Dollar Asset” is well entertained in Palm Beach.

Kearns, meantime, remains in New York settling up his 1923 business, making plans for 1924, trying to devise something to keep Dempsey employed. It is apt to be a busy year for the champion. He may top his 1923 earnings of over $750,000, which set an all-time record for an individual in pugilism.

Dempsey is almost sure to fight twice, perhaps three times, in 1924. The writer’s guess now is that he will meet Tom Gibbon again, as a “warm-up,” then either Firpo or Wills, perhaps both, in the order named.

(Source: Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/image/616207851/)


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