Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

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Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby marcianofan » 23 Jul 2009, 06:35

On July 3, 1905, Jack Root and Marvin Hart squared off for what was billed as the vacant heavyweight championship of the World. The referee of the bout was then-retired former Champion Jim Jeffries. It seems that the fight was for the championship in many people's eyes essentially because Jeff said it was. The winner of the fight, Marvin Hart, became the patriarch of a heavyweight dynasty that would last until Gene Tunney retired in 1928. But was this really a legitimate championship fight by any objective standard? If Ring Magazine had been around in 1905 and rated fighters accurately based on their records, would these two men have been ranked #1 and #2? Certainly both men had good records. But who were the other options at the time? Were these two men even the best white fighters? I don't even know where to begin to examine this question, and so I'm hoping to get a discussion going in order to get to the truth.

One sub-issue to consider:
Jack Root weighed only 171 lbs. for the fight, the heaviest recorded weight of his career. Could he, by the standards of the time, have been considered an actual heavyweight? If not, should he have been allowed to fight for the vacant heavyweight title as a light heavyweight?

In discussing the top fighters, let's try to avoid hindsight, and focus on the fighters' rankings based on what the boxing community could have known about each fighter at the time the fight took place. Thanks!
raylawpc
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby raylawpc » 23 Jul 2009, 10:34

marcianofan wrote:On July 3, 1905, Jack Root and Marvin Hart squared off for what was billed as the vacant heavyweight championship of the World. The referee of the bout was then-retired former Champion Jim Jeffries. It seems that the fight was for the championship in many people's eyes essentially because Jeff said it was. The winner of the fight, Marvin Hart, became the patriarch of a heavyweight dynasty that would last until Gene Tunney retired in 1928. But was this really a legitimate championship fight by any objective standard? If Ring Magazine had been around in 1905 and rated fighters accurately based on their records, would these two men have been ranked #1 and #2? Certainly both men had good records. But who were the other options at the time? Were these two men even the best white fighters? I don't even know where to begin to examine this question, and so I'm hoping to get a discussion going in order to get to the truth.

One sub-issue to consider:
Jack Root weighed only 171 lbs. for the fight, the heaviest recorded weight of his career. Could he, by the standards of the time, have been considered an actual heavyweight? If not, should he have been allowed to fight for the vacant heavyweight title as a light heavyweight?

In discussing the top fighters, let's try to avoid hindsight, and focus on the fighters' rankings based on what the boxing community could have known about each fighter at the time the fight took place. Thanks!


Hart has just fought the fight of his life in the spring to defeat Jack Johnson. Jack Root and his manager, Lou Houseman, were always great at self-promotion. Most people probably felt Hart was the No. 1 contender by virtue of the win over Johnson, but nobody gave him a chance against Jeffries. So Jeffries retired claiming that there was nobody the public would pay to see him fight.

According to Jeffries, he never bestowed the title on anyone. He always said that the title was not his to bestow (and if he could, he'd give it to a member of his family). He stated on several occasions that he was paid to referee the fight. Period.

At best, by winning the fight, Hart was no more than a claimant. The inclusion of Hart in many lists as a lineal champion has always been baffling to me. If you read the newspapers of the times, Hart claim to the championship was not universally accepted by the public.

Regarding the weight, Fitzsimmons weighed 167 when he fought Corbett (Fitz always claimed that he only weighed 158).
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby dempseyfire » 23 Jul 2009, 12:06

A person can win the heavyweight title weighing less than 176 . . .as Ray points out Bob Fitz won it as a middleweight.

As for it not being linear, I do think Hart was the #1 contender based on his "win" over Johnson . . .Root? not so sure (he did have wins over Fireman Flynn and Hart himself), but if you don't recognize Hart as linear, then Burns isn't . . so when does the linear title start up again? I think it's fair to recognize Hart as a linear champ since he was the top contender to Jeff's crown and won it beating another top contender.

On another note, Jack Root seems to be a forgotten fighter, but on retrospect he could be ranked among the top 20-25 175 lbers of all time. 46-3, with victories over Hart, Kid Carter, George Gardner, Kid McCoy, and a draw with Tommy Ryan.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby marcianofan » 23 Jul 2009, 13:40

I'm well aware of the Fitzsimmons winning the title as a 167 pounder, but I also think there's a difference between a smaller guy beating the heavyweight champion to claim the title and a smaller guy fighting for a vacancy. If Tomasz Adamek challenged and beat Wlad Klitschko and was under the cruiserweight limit, he'd be heavyweight champion. But if Wlad retired, a match between Vitali and Adamek would hardly be a legitimate way to fill the vacancy. See my point?
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby dempseyfire » 23 Jul 2009, 14:07

marcianofan wrote:I'm well aware of the Fitzsimmons winning the title as a 167 pounder, but I also think there's a difference between a smaller guy beating the heavyweight champion to claim the title and a smaller guy fighting for a vacancy. If Tomasz Adamek challenged and beat Wlad Klitschko and was under the cruiserweight limit, he'd be heavyweight champion. But if Wlad retired, a match between Vitali and Adamek would hardly be a legitimate way to fill the vacancy. See my point?


If one could argue Adamek was a top challenger for the belt, it would be very legitimate.

The light heavyweight championship had just been created and nobody really cared about it (in fact, Root was the vert first light heavyweight champion when he defeated McCoy for the newly created title). Practically everyone above middleweight fought each other, it was not tightly regimented like it is now. Root for most of his career was considered a small heavyweight, not a light-heavy.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby raylawpc » 23 Jul 2009, 14:47

marcianofan wrote:I'm well aware of the Fitzsimmons winning the title as a 167 pounder, but I also think there's a difference between a smaller guy beating the heavyweight champion to claim the title and a smaller guy fighting for a vacancy. If Tomasz Adamek challenged and beat Wlad Klitschko and was under the cruiserweight limit, he'd be heavyweight champion. But if Wlad retired, a match between Vitali and Adamek would hardly be a legitimate way to fill the vacancy. See my point?


No, I don't see your point because you are trying to apply a 21st century mind-set to early 20th century circumstances.

Until the early 20th century, if you weighed over 158 pounds, you were a heavyweight (Until the end of the 19th century, 158 was the division limit for middleweight - not 160. Tommy Ryan, the claimant until 1905, always put the limit at 158 for his title defenses.) Very few heavyweights weighed more than 200 pounds. Jeffries - who stood about 6-2 and weighed typically 210-215, was called "The Big Fellow" and considered a giant. Jack Johnson, barely over 6 foot and for most of his career right around 200-210 was called the Galveston "Giant."

Subcribe to Newspaperarchive.com or ProQuest, or go to the Smithsonian website, and read the newspapers from that time. Nobody questioned Root's right to fight for the title because of his size. Indeed, one of the title claimants after Jeffries retirement was Jack O'Brien, and nobody questioned his lack of size either.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby marcianofan » 23 Jul 2009, 14:52

dempseyfire wrote:
marcianofan wrote:I'm well aware of the Fitzsimmons winning the title as a 167 pounder, but I also think there's a difference between a smaller guy beating the heavyweight champion to claim the title and a smaller guy fighting for a vacancy. If Tomasz Adamek challenged and beat Wlad Klitschko and was under the cruiserweight limit, he'd be heavyweight champion. But if Wlad retired, a match between Vitali and Adamek would hardly be a legitimate way to fill the vacancy. See my point?


If one could argue Adamek was a top challenger for the belt, it would be very legitimate.

The light heavyweight championship had just been created and nobody really cared about it (in fact, Root was the vert first light heavyweight champion when he defeated McCoy for the newly created title). Practically everyone above middleweight fought each other, it was not tightly regimented like it is now. Root for most of his career was considered a small heavyweight, not a light-heavy.

Fair enough. Was light heavy 175 from its inception, or was it lower initially? Or was there even a consensus on that?

So who else would have a claim to the top 2 spots? Tommy Burns was probably not in the conversation at the time because he was still fighting at middleweight. Maybe Jack Johnson still, considering the close nature of his loss to Hart (who knows if he really even lost or not considering it was a decision from a white referee in front of a white crowd, and considering Hart's face was "battered to a pulp").
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby raylawpc » 23 Jul 2009, 15:00

dempseyfire wrote:A person can win the heavyweight title weighing less than 176 . . .as Ray points out Bob Fitz won it as a middleweight.

As for it not being linear, I do think Hart was the #1 contender based on his "win" over Johnson . . .Root? not so sure (he did have wins over Fireman Flynn and Hart himself), but if you don't recognize Hart as linear, then Burns isn't . . so when does the linear title start up again? I think it's fair to recognize Hart as a linear champ since he was the top contender to Jeff's crown and won it beating another top contender.

On another note, Jack Root seems to be a forgotten fighter, but on retrospect he could be ranked among the top 20-25 175 lbers of all time. 46-3, with victories over Hart, Kid Carter, George Gardner, Kid McCoy, and a draw with Tommy Ryan.


I recognize Burns as a linear champion, but not Hart. Hart was a title claimant by virtue of his win over Root. The Reno promoters claimed it was for the title and tried to give it legitimacy by having Jeff as the referee. But not everybody supported that claim. Remember, that heavyweight champion had ever retired, so people weren't sure what to do. O'Brien claimed the title by virtue of defeating Fitzsimmons, who, some said, regained the title when Jeffries retired since he was the man Jeffries defeated. (Jeff retired in May 1905, and O'Brien beat Fitz in December.) Many people recognized O'Brien's claim, too.

Burns defeated Hart and, at that point, became one of the claimants. He then defeated O'Brien, the other claimant, and Bill Squires - considered the top man out of Australia - in 1907 to solidify his claim to the title. Once he cleaned up the European competition, I think most folks recognized Burns as the legitimate champion, especially when Jeffries decided not to make a comeback against Squires, and Burns beat Squires.
Last edited by raylawpc on 25 Jul 2009, 16:30, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby raylawpc » 23 Jul 2009, 15:09

marcianofan wrote:
dempseyfire wrote:
marcianofan wrote:I'm well aware of the Fitzsimmons winning the title as a 167 pounder, but I also think there's a difference between a smaller guy beating the heavyweight champion to claim the title and a smaller guy fighting for a vacancy. If Tomasz Adamek challenged and beat Wlad Klitschko and was under the cruiserweight limit, he'd be heavyweight champion. But if Wlad retired, a match between Vitali and Adamek would hardly be a legitimate way to fill the vacancy. See my point?


If one could argue Adamek was a top challenger for the belt, it would be very legitimate.

The light heavyweight championship had just been created and nobody really cared about it (in fact, Root was the vert first light heavyweight champion when he defeated McCoy for the newly created title). Practically everyone above middleweight fought each other, it was not tightly regimented like it is now. Root for most of his career was considered a small heavyweight, not a light-heavy.

Fair enough. Was light heavy 175 from its inception, or was it lower initially? Or was there even a consensus on that?

So who else would have a claim to the top 2 spots? Tommy Burns was probably not in the conversation at the time because he was still fighting at middleweight. Maybe Jack Johnson still, considering the close nature of his loss to Hart (who knows if he really even lost or not considering it was a decision from a white referee in front of a white crowd, and considering Hart's face was "battered to a pulp").


The Root-McCoy fight was advertised at 175, and the weight limit has always remained 175.

Hart was probably the No. 1 guy. Whether Root was No. 2 is doubtful. The No. 2 guy was probably Jack Johnson.

Incidentially, if you read the ringside reports of the Hart-Johnson from the San Francisco newspapers, you'll discover that the idea Johnson dominated Marvin Hart and was blatantly robbed by the ref is pretty much a myth. Those newspaper accounts show that it was a close fight, with Johnson in control over the first 10 rounds, and Hart rallying over the last ten. The newspapers in SF do not really take issue with the referee's decision.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby Chuck1052 » 23 Jul 2009, 16:10

Tom, I agree with you.....it appeared that the decision could've gone either way legitimately in the bout between Marvin Hart and Jack Johnson. Of course, Hart was the aggressor in the best performance of his otherwise mediocre career against a "safety-first" boxer.

- Chuck Johnston
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby dempseyfire » 23 Jul 2009, 16:48

I've read several accounts of Hart-Johnson and going by them altogether I find a very hard case one can make for Hart having won more rounds than Johnson. Hart got much credit for coming forward but he got picked apart as he did and he really only started landing anything of significance in the last 5 rounds. Johnson didn't 'dominate' but to me it was a poor decision given to the guy who showed more 'pluck' rather than the guy who landed more and made the other guy miss.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby raylawpc » 23 Jul 2009, 17:18

dempseyfire wrote:I've read several accounts of Hart-Johnson and going by them altogether I find a very hard case one can make for Hart having won more rounds than Johnson. Hart got much credit for coming forward but he got picked apart as he did and he really only started landing anything of significance in the last 5 rounds. Johnson didn't 'dominate' but to me it was a poor decision given to the guy who showed more 'pluck' rather than the guy who landed more and made the other guy miss.


Did you read the ringside reports in the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Call and San Francisco Chronicle? Neither the Examiner nor Chronicle reports are available "on-line," but the Call report is available through the Library of Congress website.

I chalk-up the result to (a) the referee - who warned the participants that he tended to favor fighters who showed the most inclination to fight (b) Hart had the best night of his career, and (c) Johnson had one of the worst nights of his career.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby donnellon » 23 Jul 2009, 18:03

I think Hart and Root were as near to the top 2 or 3 at the time of their contest as Sharkey-Schmeling or Moore-Patterson and as equally legit. Root indeed was the betting favorite.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby dempseyfire » 23 Jul 2009, 18:30

raylawpc wrote:
dempseyfire wrote:I've read several accounts of Hart-Johnson and going by them altogether I find a very hard case one can make for Hart having won more rounds than Johnson. Hart got much credit for coming forward but he got picked apart as he did and he really only started landing anything of significance in the last 5 rounds. Johnson didn't 'dominate' but to me it was a poor decision given to the guy who showed more 'pluck' rather than the guy who landed more and made the other guy miss.


Did you read the ringside reports in the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Call and San Francisco Chronicle? Neither the Examiner nor Chronicle reports are available "on-line," but the Call report is available through the Library of Congress website.

I chalk-up the result to (a) the referee - who warned the participants that he tended to favor fighters who showed the most inclination to fight (b) Hart had the best night of his career, and (c) Johnson had one of the worst nights of his career.


Yes, I've read those. I agree the referee and his bias towards the aggressive fighter was a major reason. I'm just saying, put that fight in a modern, scoring by round, 3 judge context I don't see from the write-ups how Hart won 10 rounds, let alone 11, since Jack did well in at least 4 of the last 10 and by most accounts swept the first 10.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby raylawpc » 23 Jul 2009, 23:40

dempseyfire wrote:
raylawpc wrote:
dempseyfire wrote:I've read several accounts of Hart-Johnson and going by them altogether I find a very hard case one can make for Hart having won more rounds than Johnson. Hart got much credit for coming forward but he got picked apart as he did and he really only started landing anything of significance in the last 5 rounds. Johnson didn't 'dominate' but to me it was a poor decision given to the guy who showed more 'pluck' rather than the guy who landed more and made the other guy miss.


Did you read the ringside reports in the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Call and San Francisco Chronicle? Neither the Examiner nor Chronicle reports are available "on-line," but the Call report is available through the Library of Congress website.

I chalk-up the result to (a) the referee - who warned the participants that he tended to favor fighters who showed the most inclination to fight (b) Hart had the best night of his career, and (c) Johnson had one of the worst nights of his career.


Yes, I've read those. I agree the referee and his bias towards the aggressive fighter was a major reason. I'm just saying, put that fight in a modern, scoring by round, 3 judge context I don't see from the write-ups how Hart won 10 rounds, let alone 11, since Jack did well in at least 4 of the last 10 and by most accounts swept the first 10.


But they weren't scoring it under a modern system, so . . .

All officials tend to favor certain styles. Of course, today we have three officials, so it tends to balance itself out. I recall in the news accounts that I've read that Alex Greggains, the referee, always tended to favor fighters who carried the fight to their opponents. This fact was pointed out in articles that discussed his decision for Hart. So, Jack Johnson knew the mind-set of the referee he was getting. Perhaps, as a black fighter, he lacked the clout to get a different referee, or he thought that he could stop Hart and it wouldn't matter. I don't know.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby The Great John L » 24 Jul 2009, 09:00

marcianofan wrote:...One sub-issue to consider:
Jack Root weighed only 171 lbs. for the fight, the heaviest recorded weight of his career. Could he, by the standards of the time, have been considered an actual heavyweight? If not, should he have been allowed to fight for the vacant heavyweight title as a light heavyweight?...


Weight classes are established with a max weight with absolutely no restriction on the lower end, and the history of boxing contains many examples of fighters fighting for a title in a higher weight class while still weighing in at the lower class.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby HenryK » 24 Jul 2009, 10:20

I think one can spin this a wider -- how often have there been legit heavyweight champions, without ifs and buts? Corbett ducked Jackson; Jeffries ducked Johnson (and other black heavyweights); Johnson ducked Langford (and other black heavyweights); Dempsey ducked Wills; Tunney quit rather than defending against Sharkey; Schmeling and Sharkey got their titles in dubious circumstances, not to mention Carnera; Patterson ducked Liston; and since the 60s there have been plentiful parallel champions.

Louis, Marciano, the young Ali, Frazier after beating Ali where truly undisputed; maybe also Charles, Walcott, Holmes (?), Tyson, Lewis at times of their careers. But it's hard to find many more clean examples.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby raylawpc » 24 Jul 2009, 10:34

HenryK wrote:I think one can spin this a wider -- how often have there been legit heavyweight champions, without ifs and buts? Corbett ducked Jackson; Jeffries ducked Johnson (and other black heavyweights); Johnson ducked Langford (and other black heavyweights); Dempsey ducked Wills; Tunney quit rather than defending against Sharkey; Schmeling and Sharkey got their titles in dubious circumstances, not to mention Carnera; Patterson ducked Liston; and since the 60s there have been plentiful parallel champions.

Louis, Marciano, the young Ali, Frazier after beating Ali where truly undisputed; maybe also Charles, Walcott, Holmes (?), Tyson, Lewis at times of their careers. But it's hard to find many more clean examples.


Corbett didn't duck Jackson. That's a myth. Jim Corbett attempted to arrange a title match with Peter Jackson in 1894, but the negotiations fell through when Jackson made demands as to the purse, location, etc. that were not to Corbett’s liking and prerogative as champion. See David K. Wiggins, “Peter Jackson and the Elusive Heavyweight Championship,” Glory Bound: Black Athletes in a White America (Syracuse University Press 1997), pp. 51-54 (chronicling the whole affair). Wiggins concludes, “The fact remains . . . that Corbett made an offer that Jackson refused to accept. (page 53).” Unlike Jack Johnson, who saw the big picture and yielded on practically every point to Tommy Burns just to get his shot, Jackson lost out on a title fight because he didn’t see the big picture, and got greedy with his demands.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby donnellon » 24 Jul 2009, 15:06

It cartainly can be argued that Hart and Root were the two top contenders at the time and further argued that that this seldom happened. Jackson was probably in the top two, 1888-94, Johnson 1905-08, Langford 08-15, Wills 1915-26, Godfrey 28-33, Schmeling 36-38, and so on with Elmer Ray, Valdez, Liston, Page, Lewis, and others.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby marcianofan » 24 Jul 2009, 15:08

The Great John L wrote:
marcianofan wrote:...One sub-issue to consider:
Jack Root weighed only 171 lbs. for the fight, the heaviest recorded weight of his career. Could he, by the standards of the time, have been considered an actual heavyweight? If not, should he have been allowed to fight for the vacant heavyweight title as a light heavyweight?...


Weight classes are established with a max weight with absolutely no restriction on the lower end, and the history of boxing contains many examples of fighters fighting for a title in a higher weight class while still weighing in at the lower class.

Again let me say that I'm WELL AWARE that a smaller guy can fight as a heavyweight, and even for the heavyweight championship if he gets a shot. But my point is that it's a little more dicey for even a light heavyweight champion who does not otherwise fight at heavyweight to fight for the VACANT heavyweight title. I think there's a good chance that a guy like Adamek or Bernard Hopkins would make better heavyweight contenders than number 10-ranked Sasha Dimetrenko. But they don't compete as heavyweights and have done nothing in the heavyweight division to justify a ranking.

Root had been a middleweight and light heavyweight and, prior to fighting Hart only had one or two actual heavyweight fights under his belt as far as I can tell: a draw and a DQ win over John Wille, an inexperienced fighter who ended his career with a losing record. Evander Holyfield had to fight 6 heavyweight contenders, including two former titlists, before he moved up the heavyweight ranks enough to get a shot at the title. David Haye at least had to beat a credible heavyweight in Monte Barrett before he got a shot at Klitschko, and even then it caused controversy, and even now he's only ranked 7th in a weak division. I don't begrudge Root the right to fight at heavyweight while only weighing 171 (and thus please don't act like I do anymore), nor the right to challenge a reigning champ. What I do question is whether he had earned a spot as the #2 heavyweight in the world while fighting all of his significant bouts at Middleweight and Light Heavy. While I'm struggling to locate anyone aside from Johnson that really deserved a #2 ranking at that point, I think it's very clear that Johnson deserved the shot over Root.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby raylawpc » 24 Jul 2009, 15:47

marcianofan wrote:
The Great John L wrote:
marcianofan wrote:...One sub-issue to consider:
Jack Root weighed only 171 lbs. for the fight, the heaviest recorded weight of his career. Could he, by the standards of the time, have been considered an actual heavyweight? If not, should he have been allowed to fight for the vacant heavyweight title as a light heavyweight?...


Weight classes are established with a max weight with absolutely no restriction on the lower end, and the history of boxing contains many examples of fighters fighting for a title in a higher weight class while still weighing in at the lower class.

Again let me say that I'm WELL AWARE that a smaller guy can fight as a heavyweight, and even for the heavyweight championship if he gets a shot. But my point is that it's a little more dicey for even a light heavyweight champion who does not otherwise fight at heavyweight to fight for the VACANT heavyweight title. I think there's a good chance that a guy like Adamek or Bernard Hopkins would make better heavyweight contenders than number 10-ranked Sasha Dimetrenko. But they don't compete as heavyweights and have done nothing in the heavyweight division to justify a ranking.

Root had been a middleweight and light heavyweight and, prior to fighting Hart only had one or two actual heavyweight fights under his belt as far as I can tell: a draw and a DQ win over John Wille, an inexperienced fighter who ended his career with a losing record. Evander Holyfield had to fight 6 heavyweight contenders, including two former titlists, before he moved up the heavyweight ranks enough to get a shot at the title. David Haye at least had to beat a credible heavyweight in Monte Barrett before he got a shot at Klitschko, and even then it caused controversy, and even now he's only ranked 7th in a weak division. I don't begrudge Root the right to fight at heavyweight while only weighing 171 (and thus please don't act like I do anymore), nor the right to challenge a reigning champ. What I do question is whether he had earned a spot as the #2 heavyweight in the world while fighting all of his significant bouts at Middleweight and Light Heavy. While I'm struggling to locate anyone aside from Johnson that really deserved a #2 ranking at that point, I think it's very clear that Johnson deserved the shot over Root.


Again, I think you are applying a 21st century mind-set to the situation in 1905.

But that said, I think it was pretty clear to most right-thinking boxing fans in 1905 that Johnson was the No. 2 guy and deserved the title contest with Hart. If you have access to ProQuest on-line, do a search for 1905 in the Chicago Tribune using the terms "Siler" and "Johnson." If memory serves, George Siler did a column on the Hart-Root fight and bemoaned how wrong it was to include Root in the contest over Johnson. (It may have been a different writer, but I'm pretty sure it was Siler.)

Its interesting to note, too, that Sam Austin of the Police Gazette was a big proponent of Jack Johnson, and repeatedly urged Jeffries to step across the color-line and fight Johnson. But, after Johnson lost to Hart, Sam urged Jeffries to retire since the performance of Hart and Johnson demonstrated that, in the Austin's judgment, neither would stand a snowball's chance in Hell against Jeffries, and there really was nobody for Jeff to fight.

The newspapers of those days provides very interesting reading!!
Last edited by raylawpc on 25 Jul 2009, 16:27, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby donnellon » 24 Jul 2009, 16:18

It's all about the times. 160-180 pound fighters like McCoy, Maher, Fitz, Corbett, Mitchell, Childs, O'Brien, and Choynski were routinely seen as top contenders. Root had beaten McCoy, Flynn, Gardner and most importantly Hart and as stated before, entered the ring as 2-1 or 3-1 favorite to beat Hart again. Johnson, O'Brien, Ruhlin, and believe it or not Fitz were the other names mentioned at the time. With hindsight Johnson should have been in the title fight but that was not at all clear at the time but he certainly was in the mix.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby raylawpc » 24 Jul 2009, 16:24

donnellon wrote:It's all about the times. 160-180 pound fighters like McCoy, Maher, Fitz, Corbett, Mitchell, Childs, O'Brien, and Choynski were routinely seen as top contenders. Root had beaten McCoy, Flynn, Gardner and most importantly Hart and as stated before, entered the ring as 2-1 or 3-1 favorite to beat Hart again. Johnson, O'Brien, Ruhlin, and believe it or not Fitz were the other names mentioned at the time. With hindsight Johnson should have been in the title fight but that was not at all clear at the time but he certainly was in the mix.


Very true. Root also had on his resume several guys who fought heavyweights and could pass as “small” heavyweights such as Kid Carter, Billy Stift (who fought a draw with Jack Johnson and beat Jim Jeffries brother, Jack), and Alex Greggain (the same guy who refereed Hart-Johnson), to name a few.
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Re: Marvin Hart v. Jack Root, 1905: Legit Championship?

Postby raylawpc » 24 Jul 2009, 17:45

donnellon wrote:It's all about the times. 160-180 pound fighters like McCoy, Maher, Fitz, Corbett, Mitchell, Childs, O'Brien, and Choynski were routinely seen as top contenders. Root had beaten McCoy, Flynn, Gardner and most importantly Hart and as stated before, entered the ring as 2-1 or 3-1 favorite to beat Hart again. Johnson, O'Brien, Ruhlin, and believe it or not Fitz were the other names mentioned at the time. With hindsight Johnson should have been in the title fight but that was not at all clear at the time but he certainly was in the mix.


About Fitz: In July 1905, its easy to see why Fitz was still in the mix:

1. Some people contended that the title reverted to Fitz when Jeffries retired since Fitz was the champion from whom Jeff won the title. Who could say "they" were wrong, given no champion had retired undefeated at that point? In fact, that claim was the basis of O'Brien's contention that he was champion following his December 1905 whipping of Fitz.

2. In 1903, Fitz had defeated Gardner who, before the fight, was touted as a possible challenger for Jeffries (Jeff had indicated he would fight Gardner if Gardner whipped Fitz). Fitz did not look particularly impressive with the win, but most believed that was because Fitz had hurt his hands in the middle rounds against Gardner. The year before, Fitz had given a good account of himself in his losing effort against Jeff.

3. Fitz was the Archie Moore of the early 20th century. Until O'Brien exposed Fitz as the old man he had become, many felt he was still a formidable opponent.

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