The year Georges Carpentier conquered America

Hero of the Great War, after a stint in rugby union he became in 1920 the first non-English speaking world boxing champion by beating Barney "Battling" Levinsky in the United States. Popular idol of the interwar period in France, Georges Carpentier also managed to seduce the America who nicknamed him at that time "The Orchid Man", in reference to the flowers that the dandy boxer used to wear at the time on his jacket.

The native of Liévin served in aviation during the First World War, where he distinguished himself several times including participating in the battle of Douaumont Fort in Verdun which earned him a decoration and several months of hospital after the crash of his reconnaissance plane in the forest. When he resumes his physical activities, the young man then 24 years tries rugby with the university club SCUF winger before returning to his favorite sport. Because little Georges was an early champion, initiated to the Savate from an early age he had his first success as a teenager against opponents of 10 years his eldest. World champion French boxing at 14, he participated in his first professional fight of English a year later, in 1908. Combat it wins against the British Salmon. A glorious future among the greatest of the noble art is then promised to him. And indeed the titles are linked: champion of France in title, the miner's son becomes, in weight welterweight, the first French champion of Europe in 1911, beating Joseph Young then middleweight in 1912, light heavyweight in 1913 and heavyweights the same year against the British giant Billy "Bombardier" Wells he terrace in just 1 minute and 10 seconds in the ring of Ghent.

georges carpentier billy bombardier wells 1913In Ghent, Belgium on June 1, 1913, Carpentier Terrace Bombardier Wells in 70 seconds.

After the war, Georges Carpentier married and made a tour of exhibitions in the United States to face the formidable "Battling Levinsky", world champion in light heavyweight since 1916. The fight takes place on October 12 1920 in Jersey City. From a right which he has the secret, Lensois become Parisian KO puts him in the fourth round after harassing him with his legendary left. This resounding victory, that of the first non-anglophone to take possession of a title of world champion of boxing, announces "the match of the century" against the "Colosse de Manassa", the legend Jack Dempsey, which is signed in New York just before his return to Europe. The event will draw 100,000 spectators to the Bowl Park in Jersey City, record takings and a huge crowd in Times Square in front of the New York Times building, the fight being the first in history to be broadcast live on the radio American this July 2, 1921.

georges carpentier jack dempsey 1921 The "fight of the century" Georges Carpentier against Jack Dempsey July 2, 1921.

Blue eyes, refined style and mastery of his art, Carpentier, who is already an idol in England, pleases the American public who appreciates his boxing speed and precision in the ring as his French elegance outside. And above all, he admires the heroic path of the North during the war while Dempsey was pale, which did not fail to trigger a heated controversy, Americans do not joke with patriotism. In the first minutes, the French rival and even stagger his opponent. But he breaks his thumb in the second round. The outcome of the fight, which ends in these conditions with a knockout in the fourth round and keeps his world heavyweight crown at Dempsey, is anecdotal. The match brought boxing into a new era, beyond sport, the show business, the big international show that will soon be televised. We must remember that Georges Carpentier had that day conquered America.