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Friday, September 19, 2014
Speculator, NY ,

Well over 100 people showed up for the dedication of Gene Tunney Park and hear Tunney's son, Jay Tunney, author of "The Prizefighter and the Playwright," talk about his famous father Thursday afternoon, Aug. 28. (Photo/Pete Klein)

Jay Tunney, his wife Kelly, and friends arrive at Osborne Point by boat for the dedication of Gene Tunney Park. (Photo/Pete Klein)

Jay Tunney and his wife Kelly are greeted by Mayor Letty Rudes just prior to the dedication of Gene Tunney Park. (Photo/Pete Klein)

Jay Tunney spoke about his father, heavyweight boxing legend Gene Tunney, at a ceremony held to dedicate Gene Tunney Park at Osborne Point Thursday, Aug. 28. (Photo/Pete Klein)

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Park dedicated to Hall of Fame boxer

Friday, August 29, 2014 - Updated: 8:20 AM

By PETE KLEIN

Express News Staff

SPECULATOR -- A large crowd, well over 100, showed up for the dedication of Gene Tunney Park and hear Tunney's son, Jay Tunney, author of "The Prizefighter and the Playwright," talk about his famous father on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 28.

Jay Tunney arrived with his wife, Kelly, at Osborne Point by boat and were greeted by Village of Speculator Mayor Letty Rudes and Town of Lake Pleasant Supervisor Neil McGovern before working their way through the crowd, shaking hands with old friend and remembering the days leading up to this special event.

GENE TUNNEY

Gene Tunney (May 25, 1897 - Nov. 7, 1978) , a Hall of Fame boxer, trained in Speculator at Osborne Point before his two epic bouts with Jack Dempsey, held nearly 90 years ago.

Having defeated Jack Dempsey twice, first in 1926 and then in 1927, Tunney's successful title defense against Dempsey remains one of the most famous bouts in boxing history and is known as The Long Count Fight. Tunney retired as an undefeated heavyweight after his victory over Tom Heeney in 1928.

After Tunney left boxing and went on to a successful business career, other famous boxers trained in Speculator. Max Schmeling trained for his bout against Mickey Walker in 1932. In 1935, Buddy Baer trained here for his fight with Jack Doyle.

JAY REMEMBERS

As Jay Tunney reminisced, his father Gene Tunney seemed like an unusual companion for George Bernard Shaw. But Shaw, a world-famous playwright, found the Irish-American athlete to be "among the very few for whom I have established a warm affection."

Even before meeting Shaw and other literary heavyweights, Gene Tunney loved to read. Developing his mind was as important to him as developing his body, said his son Jay.

Jay said coming to train in Speculator was a result of being invited by a buddy from World War I, William Osborne, owner of the Osborne Inn. When not training or reading, Gene loved absorbing the quiet beauty of the lake and surrounding woods.

Jay said, “Dad’s favorite saint was St. Francis because of his love for nature and serving others. The quiet of Speculator gave him the calm before his last fight.”

After reading passages from his book about his father, Jay added his thanks to that of Rudes and McGovern to all who contributed to the purchase of the land for the park on which Tunney's training ring was located and with special thanks awarded to the Speculator / Lake Pleasant Garden Club, the Speculator Highway Department and the many volunteers who do the work to make the park presentable for the dedication.

The Tunneys will rightfully be remembered for having helped put Speculator on the map.

As noted by McGovern, with the addition of Gene Tunney Park the Speculator region now has a large contiguous area open to the general public for its enjoyment, stretching along the lake to the public beach and across the road to include the pavilion, ball field and Sacandaga Pathway.

peteklein@hamiltoncountyexpress.com

     

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