Jack Johnson vs. James J. Jeffries
1910-07-04 : James J. Jeffries 227 lbs lost to Jack Johnson 208 lbs by TKO at 2:20 in round 15 of 45
- Location: Reno, Nevada, USA
- Referee: Tex Rickard
- Timekeeper: George Harting
World Heavyweight Title (Johnson defending)
- Photo #2, Photo #3
- Jack Johnson became the Colored Heavyweight Champion of the World in 1903. However, unsatisfied with his accomplishment, Johnson entered the San Francisco saloon owned and operated by the World Heavyweight Champion, James J. Jeffries, and challenged Jeffries to defend his title against him. Jeffries refused Johnson’s challenge and explained: “I won’t meet you in the ring because you’ve got no name and we won’t draw flies. But I’ll go downstairs to the cellar with you and lock the door from the inside. And the one who comes out with the key will be the champ.” When Johnson expressed doubt about Jeffries’ sincerity, Jeffries assured him that he was serious and that he was prepared to fight him immediately. Johnson reportedly turned and walked away.
- Promoter Tex Rickard refereed the fight. United States President William Howard Taft and writer Arthur Conan Doyle declined Rickard's telegraphed offers to referee.
- Jeffries opened as a 10-7 favorite. Odds climbed as high as 2½-1 for Jeffries.
- The purse was $101,000. Originally, the winner was to get 75% and the loser 25%. Five days before the fight, Johnson proposed changing it to an even 50/50 split. Jeffries suggested a 60/40 split, which Johnson accepted. Each fighter was given a $10,0000 signing bonus. Jeffries was given $66,666 for movie rights and Johnson was given $50,000.
- The fight was to take place in San Francisco, until California's governor stepped in with less than three weeks to go. Boxing was still banned in many states, and church groups had pressured him to stop it on moral and religious grounds.
- This was the first time that an arena was constructed for one single fight. Attendance was 15,760.
- John L. Sullivan, Bob Fitzsimmons Tommy Burns, Tom Sharkey, Jake Kilrain, Sam Langford, Philadelphia Jack O'Brien, and Abe Attell were introduced to the crowd.
- In Chicago, some 10,000 people, mostly white, gathered outside the Tribune building to listen to a man on a megaphone read bulletins from the fight. Another 30,000 people stood in Times Square to watch the newspaper's new automated device spit out the news.
- The end came in the 15th round when Jeffries, his face puffy and bloody, went down for the first time in his career from a flurry of punches. He was able to get up at the count of nine, but Johnson sent him through the ropes with a right hand to the jaw. His seconds and reporters had to help him back into the ring. Jeffries then staggered across the canvas where a combination put him down for the last time. His seconds jumped into the ring to stop the fight, even though there was no doubt Jeffries was not getting up.
- In New Orleans, a black man who shouted "Hurrah for Johnson" was severely beaten by whites before police came to his rescue. In Houston, a black man named Charles Williams had his throat slashed ear to ear by a white man for cheering for Johnson on a streetcar. A mob of 200 whites chased blacks off the sidewalks in Washington. In Cincinnati, several hundred whites ran after a black who made a comment they found offensive. In Clarksburg, W.Va., whites were so angry at the triumphant shouting of blacks that they formed a 1,000-man posse to chase all blacks off the streets, including one who was led about with a rope around his neck. Scattered rioting occurred in most major cities. The next day, the Chicago Daily Tribune counted at least 11 dead around the country, with scores of others injured. The New York Times listed 10 deaths.
- Promoters had planned to show films of the fight in theaters, but a black man winning complicated things. The powerful Christian Endeavor Society campaigned for a ban and mayors in Cincinnati, Atlanta and Boston quickly agreed. The police chief in Washington also banned the films, fearing "the display of pictures would affect the minds of children and also renew the hostile feeling on the part of many white men." Congress eventually passed an act banning the interstate transport of fight films.
- In his 1929 autobiography, Jeffries argued that he had been doped before the fight by a turncoat in his camp, but his story was discounted.
- "But one thing now remains, Jim Jeffries must now emerge from his alfalfa farm and remove that golden smile from Jack Johnson’s face. Jeff, it’s up to you. The white man must be rescued." - Novelist Jack London after Johnson won the title
- "I am going into this fight for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a Negro." - Jim Jeffries before the fight
- Jeff is too old and cannot get into condition to fight anybody. He’s all in, and nobody knows it better than himself. He can never get into his former good trim." - Jack Johnson before the fight
- "Come on now, Mr. Jeff. Let me see what you got. Do something, man. This is for the championship." - Jack Johnson taunting Jeffries during the fight
- "I could never have whipped Johnson at my best. I couldn't have hit him. No, I couldn't have reached him in 1,000 years." - Jim Jeffries after the fight
- "I won from Mr. Jeffries because I outclassed him in every department of the fighting game. Before I entered the ring I was certain I would be the victor. I never changed my mind at any time." - Jack Johnson after the fight
- The Milwaukee Sentinel - July 8, 1910
- The Pittsburgh Press - June 9, 1910
- AolNews - July 4, 2010
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