Studs Terkel is interviewed on ESPN speaking about Jack Dempsey and the 1919 Black Sox scandal. This tape is single camera raw footage of Terkel responding to questions from an interviewer. The tape finishes with a second take of the first section.
00:03 Opening shot of Studs waiting for the interview to begin.
00:19 Interviewer asks Studs to set the scene by discussing the “Roaring ’20s.” Studs begins by vividly describing the moment when Jack Dempsey became the heavyweight champion of the world on July 4, 1919. He also briefly talks about Jess Willard, Jack Johnson, and other important figures in boxing during that time.
02:25 Terkel speaks about how the name “Dempsey” was synonymous with “champion.” He continues to recall personal memories of his time living in his parents’ men’s hotel and the other fights that Dempsey won during those years. He speaks also of Dempsey’s manager Jack Kearns.
04:10 Terkel recounts the time when Dempsey lost his title to Gene Tunney in 1926 in Philadelphia. Terkel weaves his family personalities into the story. He tells the story of their second fight in Soldier Field, which was one of the first big events there.
07:15 Interview is briefly interrupted for a technical adjustment.
07:26 Terkel resumes by talking about this as the “Jazz Age” following World War I, focusing on the social trends and important figures of that time.
08:57 Terkel returns to Dempsey’s manager, saying that “you can’t talk about Jack Dempsey unless you talk about Jack Kearns, his manager.” He also speaks about Tex Rickard, the boxing promoter, and how he had the opportunity to interview Kearns.
11:51 Terkel speaks again of the fight in Soldier Field and his memory of listening to that fight with his brothers in their clubhouse. He spoke of the enemy, Dave Barry, the referee who held the 16th count that ended up causing Dempsey to lose the decision, but also that this was retribution for the first fight, when Dempsey was pushed back into the ring by the sports writers.
12:40 Terkel notes that Dempsey was criticized as a “draft dodger.”
13:00 Interviewer asks about Dempsey’s “draft dodging” in World War I and that he was labeled a “slacker.” Terkel responds that it didn’t last too long, and says that “we think of Dempsey being representative of a certain period.”
14:30 Terkel contrasts Dempsey’s slacker label with the heroic image of Muhammad Ali as a war resister during the Vietnam War.
15:50 Terkel equates the name “Dempsey” with boxing itself, as was done with Babe Ruth for baseball. He recounts the story of when Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmeling and what that meant for Black people in America. He vividly tells the tale of his own experience in going to the South Side of Chicago and the triumphant celebration that occurred in that moment. He says, “It was a great moment for African Americans, and for that matter, as far as I’m concerned, for the world.” He notes that Muhammad Ali was the greatest, just as he declared himself.
20:49 Interviewer asks Terkel to recount the scene of the fight in Soldier Field and Terkel says it was an event of “overwhelming significance.” Terkel notes that these sporting events were much larger than the Super Bowl today. Terkel admits that he believes that “boxing should go,” meaning that he believes that it should be eliminated, noting the many who have been severely injured or killed in the ring.
25:05 Terkel speaks about sports writers and their contributions, but also their personal lives.
26:25 Terkel begins to speak about the White Sox of 1919 and the “Black Sox” scandal. He pointed out that nobody mentions Comiskey as responsible, but that he was responsible because he exploited those players and didn’t pay them enough.
27:24 Interviewer asks him to comment on who Comiskey was. Terkel notes that he was a the first baseman who first played off the bag, but that he was a “tight-fisted” owner.
28:50 Taping cuts out for a few seconds.
29:05 Terkel goes on to criticize the owners, who held the power. He also speaks about how Babe Ruth saved the game of baseball, and how the owners didn’t like him because of his power and ability to raise his salary.
32:55 Interviewer asks if Joe Jackson should be in the Hall of Fame. Terkel says that Jackson was so good, even when throwing the series he still was batting .375. He later says that he should be in the Hall of Fame, as should Pete Rose. He notes the hypocrisy as the worst part of it all.
36:07 Terkel finishes by saying that “the name Dempsey brings up all those memories” and the interviewer thanks Terkel.
36:21 Take two of first part of the interview begins. Terkel sets the scene again by describing the rise of Jack Dempsey in 1919 and other significant social trends and sporting figures and events and the relationship between them.
44:00 Terkel declares, “We got it! That’s even better the second time!”