Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame

James Joseph "Gene" Tunney
Barney Ross
Class of 2001
Boxer - Heavyweight

James Joseph "Gene" Tunney. . .Turned Pro in 1915 but place it on hold to join the Marine Corps. . .He was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1919. . .Won the World heavyweight championship in 1926. . .Tunney Retired in 1928 from boxing as the heavyweight champ. . .Born May 24, 1897, New York, NY. . .Died November 7, 1978 at age of 81...

Career 61 1 1 45

James Joseph "Gene" Tunney was born May 24, 1897, in New York. He began his boxing career in 1915, but placed it on hold and enlisted in the Marine Corps in July 1918. After initial training at the Marine Barracks, Parris Island, South Carolina, he joined the 11th Marines at Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia.

James TunneyAlong with the rest of the 11th Marines, Tunney sailed for overseas duty in Brest, France, in October 1918. There, in the closing days of the First World War, he was assigned athletic duties and represented the Marine Corps in well-known boxing bouts against Army and Navy opponents. Tunney's participation and assistance in the promotion of the sport was well recognized by his fellow Marines.

James TunneyTunney was discharged from the Marine Corps in July 1919, as a private with an excellent character of service. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal. On leaving the Marines, he resumed his boxing career, earning a shot at the World Heavyweight Title against Jack Dempsey in September 1926.

Tunney defeated Dempsey to win the Heavyweight championship. He successfully defended his title twice, including a rematch with Dempsey in September 1927. Shortly after defeating Tom Heeney in July 1928, he retired from boxing while still champion. His record was 65-1-1 with 47 Knockouts.

James TunneyTunney again served his nation during the Second World War with the Navy. In 1940 he accepted a commission as a Commander and served as head of the Naval Physical Fitness Program. In this capacity, he traveled throughout the Pacific Theater during the war. Tunney resigned from the Navy as a Captain following the war in 1945.

Tunney died on November 7, 1978, in Greenwich, Connecticut. Boxing fans everywhere regard him as one of the greatest heavyweight fighters of all time.