Gene Tunney, the world heavyweight-boxing champion—and one of the greatest champions of the twentieth century—seemed an unusual companion for Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw.  But Shaw, hailed as the greatest playwright of his time and most famous man of his generation, found the younger Irish-American athlete to be “among the very few for whom I have established a warm affection.”   The Prizefighter and the Playwright chronicles the legendary, but rarely documented, relationship formed between this celebrated odd couple, and reveals two famous men, comfortable on the world stage who sought friendship when they were out of the celebrity spotlight.  “The book is not only important to historians, but it is also a book with a great love story,” wrote one reviewer.  “Full of surprises and mind-changing insights, this compelling book tells for the first time the unlikely relationship… a revelation,” wrote another.

Author Jay R. Tunney is the son of the famous fighter.  His book, which evolved from the acclaimed BBC radio program The Master and the Boy, is an insightful, fascinating study of a boxer from humble roots who married into the upper class, and an older man who embraced his role as spiritual father.  “Friendship,” wrote the boxer, “is the most satisfying connection in life. No man can go very far with strength and courage if he goes alone.”


News and Events

University Of Notre Dame
Jay Tunney at the Institute for Irish Studies

April 2019

Jay Tunney’s book named
one of "Greatest Boxing Books"
Boxing News Magazine (London)
Dec. 20, 2018 (PDF)

Walking in a winter wonderland: The Christmas that almost killed Gene Tunney, Dec. 12, 2018
(Website) (PDF)

Remembering South Side boxing coach, mentor and philosopher Martin McGarry
Feb. 5, 2018

90th Anniversary of the Long Count fight
Sept. 27, 2017 (PDF)

The ShawChicago Theater Company to honor Jay R. Tunney at Gala dinner
Friday, May 19, 2017

Fighter and a thinker both -- remembering the overlooked boxing great Gene Tunney
Chicago Tribune, Aug 19, 2016

Interview with Rick Kogan
WGN radio, Aug 7, 2016



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