Joe Choynski vs. Jack Johnson

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Jack Johnson lost to Joe Choynski by KO in round 3 of 20

  • Date: 1901-02-25
  • Location: Harmony Hall, Galveston, Texas, USA
  • Referee: Herbert Bernau

Joe Choynski and Jack Johnson in jail after the fight.

Choynski claimed he came to Galveston to give boxing lessons to members of the Galveston Athletic Club and to conduct exhibitions to demonstrate boxing. Actually, he was there to take on Johnson. Many in the local boxing establishment thought Johnson was cocky, and they brought Choynski in to knock Johnson down a peg.

On the evening of February 25, the veteran and the newcomer met in Galveston's Harmony Hall. The fight ended in the third round, as Choynski feinted with his left and hit Johnson on the jaw with his right. Johnson fell into Choynski’s arms and landed on his back on the mat. There is some question as to whether or not Johnson was expecting actual combat and Choynski was notorious for pulling a fast one on unsuspecting opponents. He had once pulled the same trick on Bob Fitzsimmons.

While boxing exhibitions were permitted, prize fights ending in one man being knocked out, were not and members of the Texas Rangers who were in the audience to prevent a prize fight immediately arrested both men for prize fighting, which was against state law. The boxers landed in the Galveston County Jail.

Bond was set at $5,000 for each man right after the fight but was reduced to $500. No one posted bond.

Sheriff Henry Thomas allowed a crowd to gather at the jail every afternoon to watch the two men spar. Choynski was impressed by Johnson's skill, and told him, "A man who can move like you should never have to take a punch." While locked up, Choynski taught Johnson all he knew, which was considerable.

The defense counsel submitted a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to the judge of the Criminal Court. This measure contended Choynski and Johnson were being detained illegally and their bond was set too high. The petition was withdrawn March 5, and the case was referred to a grand jury, which met for two hours and heard witnesses to the fight. The grand jury failed to return an indictment.

Choynski and Johnson were finally released on $1,000 bond each on March 22, 1901. Both men left Galveston.

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