Jack Dempsey vs. the Evil Robots

“I can whip any mechanical robot that ever has or ever will be made.”

Jack Dempsey v. Evil Robot

So said Jack Dempsey. Captain Billy Fawcet, former WWI Army Captain, apparently talked Jack Dempsey into doing this puff piece for Fawcett’s biggest magazine, Modern Mechanix, in 1934.

The idea of the early sci-fi robot battling the hard hitting fighter is captivating and much more interesting than the article itself. (Click on the pic above to read the article).

The article is relative fluff, ostensibly pointing out boxing tips from the champ’s perspective, but my guess is Dempsey had little to do with the article. He describes how physics is involved in punching and posits that a robot will always be defeated by a boxer’s out-thinking it.

I won’t comment on Dempsey’s predictions on robotic thinking abilities, after all, even the futurists are wrong more often than they are right. However, the discussion of the physics of punching is weak, especially so considering that Dempsey’s Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense contains some of the best descriptions of generating punching power ever written.

Dempsey had his name on another interesting text on fighting with his How to Fight Tough based on his time spent in the Coast Guard during WWII. His tour appears to have been mainly a public relations move, the “very real threat” of Coasties engaging in hand-to-hand combat emphasized in the book copy notwithstanding.

Dempsey demonstrates a number of hand-to-hand moves, mainly on wrestler Bernard J. (BJ) Cosneck. Just to add to the spectacle, Cosneck appears in his wrestling boots and briefs throughout the book. Cosneck also wrote a book based on his time teaching the Coast Guard entitled American Combat Judo. Cosneck’s is by far the better work.

But that’s all beside the point. The point is to take a moment out of your busy day and imagine the Tin Man’s piston-like attacks facing those steel-denting Demspey hooks. Yeah, I’d still go with Dempsey.

Paper Bludgeon: the Millwall Brick

The other day I read a post on Boing Boing about constructing the Millwall Brick, which is the first I had heard of it. The Millwall (or Chelsea) Brick is an improvised weapon constructed out of rolled and folded newspaper.

The history behind the Milwall Brick is that football (soccer) hooligans, frisked at the gates, were limited in the types of weapons they could smuggle into the matches. The innocuous newspaper allowed them a quickly accessible weapon at their disposal should the fistic festivities kick off.

Instructions for making one can be found here, but the photo sequence they show pretty much covers it:

Millwall brick assembly

Now, I’m all for improvised weapons, but this looks almost like more trouble than it’s worth. It seems to me a rolled-up magazine used as a thrusting weapon would be far more useful, not to mention quicker to implement.

Then again, the South Londoners know what they’re about when it comes to football violence, so I guess I need to make one and do a couple test whacks with it to really understand it. At first glance, it just looks too short to do anything worthwhile. Maybe that’s part of the fun: you can have a less-lethal weapon that will save your fists in a punch up and not land you in the chokey for attempted murder.

“You say the defendant then viciously attacked you with a newspaper? The defense rests, your honor.”

Mystery: Did Black Belt Ever Publish This Article?

I had an interesting email exchange the other day. The foremost researcher on H2H/Combatives instructor Dermot “Pat” O’Neill sent an image of page 10 from the January 1967 issue of Black Belt magazine. Here is the page (click on the image to open up to full size):

Black Belt January 1967 p. 10

As you can see, Black Belt announces that the U.S. Marine Corps is going to drop its judo based combatives program and replace it with a system based on Chinese boxing. In the announcement, Black Belt finishes with “We will carry the full story.” So everyone is thinking O’Neill (if you’ve seen the film “Devil’s Brigade,” the combatives instructor is based on him) and the hunt is on for what promises to be a fascinating article.

I google a bit, and, as with many things, I wind up on eBay looking for a February 1967 copy of Black Belt, reasoning that the page was a teaser for the next month’s issue. The first seller was in Thailand training and couldn’t get to his issue to check if the story was in there, but the next seller had a copy and was willing to check for me.

Unfortunately, the article was not in the February 1967 issue. The seller, an extremely kind man with the seller id Bloop68, went to the trouble of pulling all the 1967 issues and checking for the article. No luck, but please check out his store because he could not have been more helpful for something that would have amounted to maybe a $15 sale (it was obvious he was checking because that’s the kind of person he was, not just because I was a potential sale).

One of the EJMAS editors pointed out that the story would have went to print sometime in mid-1966 and hit the newsstands in fall 1966 considering Black Belt’s lead time, but a quick search of the online historical newspapers was fruitless.

So, the mystery remains: Did Black Belt ever actually publish the article? If anyone knows anything relevant, or you just want to chime in, please contact us! You can leave a comment here or contact us privately through the Contact Us page.

For more on O’Neill online see Cestari & Grasso’s biographical summary here. For an excellent print resource see Brown, Steve.”Dermot O’Neill: One of the 20th Century’s Most Overlooked Combatives Pioneers.” Journal Of Asian Martial Arts, 12:3, pp. 18-31 (2003).