World Heavy weight Boxing Champion- 1915-1919
Born- 1881 in St. Clere, Kansas in rural Pottawatomie County
A working cowboy. He did not begin boxing until he was 28 years old.
1909-1910- Despite his late start, Jess Willard proved successful as a boxer, defeating top-ranked opponents to earn a chance to fight for the championship.
1915- in front of a huge crowd at the Vedado Racetrack in Havana, Cuba, in the 26th round he knocked out champion Jack Johnson to win the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship.
Johnson spread rumors that he took a dive, but Willard is widely regarded as winning fairly. Johnson found that he could not knock out the giant Willard, who fought as a counterpuncher, making Johnson do all the leading. Johnson began to tire after the 20th round, and was visibly hurt by heavy body punches from Willard in rounds preceding the 26th round knockout. Following the fight, Willard was heradled as "The Great White Hope".
1919- At 6′ 6 1/2" (1.99 m), Jess Willard was the tallest heavyweight champion in boxing history, until 6′ 7" Primo Carnera won the title in 1930s. The 37-year-old champion Willard, lost his title to Jack Dempsey,
in Toledo, Ohio. Dempsey knocked Willard down for the first time in his career with a left hook in the first round. Dempsey knocked Willard down 7 times in the first round, winning the title when Willard was unable to continue after the third round. In the fight Willard suffered a broken jaw, cheekbone, and ribs as well as losing several teeth. Some people accused Dempsey’s trainer of filling Dempseys boxing gloves with rocks or even metal, the trainer thinking his boxer would need that to beat the giant Jess Willard.
Others say it was a fair fight.
1919- starred in feature film The Challenge of Chance.
1916-1919- Willard parlayed his boxing fame into an acting career of a sort. He acted in a vaudeville show, had a role in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
1910-1926- Willard fought in 36 fights, in which he scored 20 knockouts and was himself knocked out only twice.
1933- he appeared in a bit part in a boxing movie, The Prizefighter and the Lady, with Max Baer and Myrna Loy.
1908-1968- Married, they had 5 Children
In 2003, he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.