Guy Clifton signs copies of Dempsey in Nevada in Reno
I dropped into Reno's Barnes and Noble over the weekend to say hi to a past editor of mine—Guy Clifton, who is getting a lot of buzz over his recently published hardcover, Dempsey in Nevada. Guy was sitting at a table with a cup of coffee, stacks of the book, and a pen. He talked with many admiring fans; that is to say fans of his and fans of Dempsey's.
Heavyweight champion of the world from 1919-1926, Dempsey, also known as the Manassa Mauler, got his start in Nevada as a teenager. He “rode the rails” to Reno, hanging on beneath a train from Salt Lake. He fought in mining camps such as Tonopah and Goldfield, in Reno and Ely, and lived for a time in Reno and Wells. As a superstar champ, Dempsey frequently returned to Nevada to visit old friends.
Guy spent two years researching and writing his book—working on the manuscript from 4 to 9 a.m. each day before heading to the Reno Gazette-Journal where he's a senior reporter. Since Dempsey was the darling of sports fans in Nevada (and elsewhere), there was a wealth of info on the RJG's own microfilmed archives, although reading them can play hell with your eyes. “We finally got a new microfilm reader,” Guy said with a chuckle. “So I didn't go blind.”
Dempsey made many friends in Nevada, and besides the newspaper stories and Dempsey's own autobiography, Guy benefited from dozens of primary sources—anecdotes, photos and memorabilia passed on by locals.
One treasure trove came from Colleen Rosencrantz. “She called me up one day,” Guy recalled, “and said she had some photos of Jack Dempsey that I might be interested in. I said something about going to lunch one day. Colleen said, 'You don't understand. I have a lot of photos.'” Many of the Rosencrantz photos, which had belonged to Dempsey's nephew Lloyd Stannard, had never been published before this book.
Guy radiated bonhomie as he chatted with visitors to his table. “I like interacting with the people who come in,” he said, reaching for his pen. I left him signing a book for another fan.
FYI: You can pick up a copy of Dempsey in Nevada at Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Sundance Bookstore in Reno.