The 1927 heavyweight championship fight between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney was a national event. More than 145,000 fans packed the aisles and filled the bleachers of Chicago’s Soldier Field. Fifty million listeners were glued to radios, using their imagination and the announcer’s description to visualize the epic battle.1 And hundreds of journalists stood ready to deliver the fight’s outcome to the readers of the latest editions of their newspapers. It was as if the entire country had paused to focus its attention on this monumental boxing match.

The drama and controversy in what became known as the “Long Count” was centered around one round. In the seventh, Dempsey knocked Tunney to the canvas and was on the brink ...

Get The Elusive Fan: Reinventing Sports in a Crowded Marketplace now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.