Jack Dempsey — Heavyweight boxing champ
Readers are going to be surprised to find out that the Onondaga Inn where Jack Dempsey stayed during his visit to this area in July 1922 was located in Bloomingdale.
The Inn which was later named the Pleasant View Bar & Restaurant and stood on the left as one turns toward the Fletcher Farm Road. When we lived on Norman Ridge in the 1930s across the road from the Onondaga Inn was a large sign for the Inn and a large barn. At that that time it was known as Tom Ryan’s, a nice guy, but operated by his Leo, his brother, who, people said, was not such a nice guy.
I am piecing things together here. In 1922 the Inn was owned by John F. Murphy from Syracuse and we all know that city is located in Onondaga County. There was no farm there but that big barn, which had an odd shape, must have had a boxing ring or two inside because Murphy conducted a training camp there.
Following is a great story about Dempsey’s visit carried in the Lake Placid News on Friday, July 14, 1922:
“Jack Dempsey, champion heavyweight, has been making a short stay in the Adirondacks while en route to Montreal with his trainer and party. The following description of the famous fighter and of a part of his first day in this region appears in the Post-Standard of Syracuse under a Bloomingdale, Essex County date line.
“Rugged as the hills of this picturesque section and radiant as the sun which smiled upon him from the crest of the Whiteface Range, Jack Dempsey, world’s heavyweight champion, came to Bloomingdale early Monday morning. He took on this section of the Adirondacks for three rounds of handshaking and won easily.
“The first round was in Bloomingdale in the morning, when the folks hereabouts tendered him everything from the key to the village [Bloomingdale had a Mayor and a Board of Trustees back then] to a trout fishing pond and the mountains around it. The other two rounds were at Saranac Lake, where, in a morning interview with the folks of that village and a more formal presentation to the public at a ball game in the afternoon, he won the golden crown of enduring popularity.
“When Jack arrived at Syracuse Friday night to give an exhibition, John F. Murphy, proprietor of the Onondaga Inn, a short distance from this village, where Jim Darcey and other fighters have been training this summer, went down and snared him. Murphy who is champion announcer of Central and Northern New, and knows nearly everybody who has trodden the canvas of the squared circle, told Jack he just simply had to come to the woods and rest himself. And Jack came, accompanied by Jack Renault, his sparring partner and heavyweight champion of Canada; Joe the Greek, his trainer and others.
“In the afternoon when he went to the ballpark and took his seat in the stands the field near the stand was soon filled with his followers. He wore a natty cream colored suit, striped tie and straw hat. When he strode across the diamond his height was impressive, but he didn’t look heavy. However, a close inspection of the rippling muscles under his tight fitting coat and the tiger crawl which predominated his walk, with the massive hands, gave strong evidence of the supple power which blighted the hopes of Willard, Carpenter and Brennan.
“As Saranac Lake and Troy got ready to play ball, Murphy descended from the stands and motioned Dempsey to come and bring all his party to the home plate. The champion, smiling self-consciously, walked briskly from his seat and was given an ovation as he reached Murphy at home plate. After being announced he lifted his hat and bowed in all directions.
“Then he had his picture taken in the midst of the local ball players and later with a group of 30 kids. After buying bags of peanuts for all the kids, he bought a sack for himself and returned to the grandstand.
“Dempsey sees great possibilities in this section of the Adirondacks as a training camp and that it is likely he will come here to train for his next fight. His manager, Jack Kearns, was in New York looking after the details of that next encounter.”
He was champion from 1919 until 1926. He died at age 87 on May 31, 1983.