Year: 1927 in Chicago. Scene: The fight for the World Heavyweight Championship between Jane Toni and Jack Dempsey. The special thing about it: the radio is right there live. It was registered for the first time.
no wonder. Professional boxing has been one of the driving forces behind the new medium from the start. And another Dempsey fight on July 2, 1921, marked the beginning of a new era. On this day a hundred years ago, the first wireless sports broadcasting ensured a wide range. Audiences gathered in cinemas, theaters, and meeting rooms on the East Coast of the United States to watch the event live, which was held in Jersey City, a city not far from New York.
“There are sources that estimate an audience of 300,000,” says Bertram Job, a journalist, book author and one of Germany’s leading experts when it comes to boxing. “Others think less. It has to do with the fact that radio reception was still in its infancy at the time. There was shortwave deception. There were technological freaks. But radio reception wasn’t available nationwide in America. It only came after Years. “
Custom built outdoor courtyard
The battle was a masterpiece of hype. The feud between then-world champion Dempsey and his rival, French European champion Georges Carpentier, was a huge spectacle for creative entrepreneur Tex Ricard. 90,000 spectators seated in a specially built outdoor arena around the arena. These included big names from American high society such as Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Astor, and Roosevelt, who helped make the sport socially acceptable. Shortly before that, she had improved her image through several rule changes.
The decision came in the fourth round: a victory by knockout for Dempsey, the outstanding heavyweight in those years. Bertram Job: “The story wasn’t very long. Carpenter was basically the most elegant and most skilled boxer. But whatever he tried didn’t work out for Dempsey at all. He probably did his best in the second round. Able to accomplish by then, he broke the thumb of his hitting hand. And try to get out of there with honor.”
After 36 years, the two met again and remembered their argument on American television. The NBC radio presenter asks the French how he lived the crucial stage.
George Carpenter: “He hit me with a hard body in the left and right after on my chin.” Dempsey never forgot the second round: “It was very good, too.”
Especially important in the development of radio
So much about this struggle was great. For example, revenue that exceeded a million dollars for the first time in a boxing match. The assessment brought additional income in the form of a documentary, which came to cinemas a few weeks later with paintings and music.
However, the fight gained its own historical significance in the development of the new medium radio. Professor Michael Sokolow, communications scientist and author of the book Six minutes in Berlin On the role of radio in the 1936 Olympics: “This was not the first sports match in the world. There was a boxing match in Pittsburgh three or four months ago that was broadcast by cable. However, Dempsey’s match against Carpentier was the first to be broadcast wirelessly, you can Hear it live almost everywhere on the East Coast of the United States. The first sports broadcast with a truly massive audience.”
The event was a precursor to the development of a symbiotic relationship between sport and the media, which propelled the interest of the general public to new commercial dimensions.
Sokolow says the most important innovations have taken place in Germany. “It was at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. There, incredible technical innovations were used. There is radio before the year 36 and after the year 36.”
Live comment made out of necessity
However, one innovation is associated with the battle of 1921 and the name of radio reporter Andrew White, a radio journalist well versed in radio technology. On that day he had to invent something that hadn’t existed before: direct microphone commentary. And it was difficult, says Sokolow: “Shortly after the fight began, White lost the audio connection to the broadcasting station. He had no idea if he could be heard at all. But he continued to speak into the microphone. Then he received a telegram and only then did he know that Everything worked out.”
What White said on the show, no one knows today. Unfortunately, the broadcast was not recorded.
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