Eighty-five years ago, on September 22, 1927, two-time world heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney stood in a corner of the boxing ring at Soldier Field in Chicago looking out on an unprecedented crowd of 120,000 people who had come to witness his rematch with former world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey.
The fight had listeners tuning in radios from across the world -- from London to Rio to Shanghai -- and would become one of the most famous bouts in boxing history. Knocked down in the seventh round, Tunney was seeing stars when Dempsey, crowding the downed Tunney, forgot the rule to move off to a neutral corner -- delaying the referee's count.
The seconds gained before Dempsey finally complied allowed Tunney to recover, and the fight continued for three more punishing rounds -- ending with Dempsey's defeat. The fight would henceforth be known as "The Long Count" fight.
In those tense seconds, with the referee counting before Tunney got up, 10 fight fans who were tuning in across the country reportedly died of heart attacks.
In Greenwich, a young girl named Polly Lauder, who lived on Lake Avenue, was listening as well, when in a post-fight interview Tunney spoke the words from ringside that would swell her heart. It was his secret message to her that would go out around the world.
"Good evening," the fighter said, "especially to all my friends in Greenwich."
A year later Gene Tunney would make Polly Lauder his bride.
This reporter wishes to credit "The Prizefighter and the Playwright: Gene Tunney and Bernard Shaw" by Jay Tunney (Gene Tunney's son) for source material for this story.