Image via Unsplash.com- KEITH WONG

The Deaf Boxer Who Died After Jumping Out Of A Plane To Try And Regain His Hearing

Fred Mahan met an early end in a 1930 parachuting accident after trying something unorthodox to cure his deafness

Andrew Martin
4 min readFeb 4, 2024

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When afflicted with various maladies, we can often become obsessed with trying anything possible to find relief or a cure. Even when these methods are nonsensical or unproven, there can still be a strong desire to at least give them a try. Unfortunately, the worst of these situations can be met with downright tragedy, as was the case with Prohibition-era boxer Fred “Dummy” Mahan, who was deaf and leapt to his death from an airplane in the hopes that parachuting was going to help him regain his hearing.

Born in Brackettville, Texas on an unknown date in 1906, Federico Mesa was of Mexican descent. His father died when he was a young child, so he assumed the last name of the man his mother remarried, William Mahan, becoming Fred Mahan.

Mahan suffered a horrible accident at an early age. A fall from his high chair when he was only eight months old left him deaf from the ensuing shock. Because this occurred when he was so young, he never developed the full ability to talk. As he grew up, he assumed the nickname of “Dummy,” the boorish but common monniker bestowed upon many…

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Andrew Martin

Dabbler in history, investing & writing. Master’s degree in baseball history. Passionate about history, diversity, culture, sports, investing and crypto.