One Hundred and Eight Years Ago Jeffries and Johnson Fought
By: Ken Hissner
On the 4th of July in 1910 James J Jeffries was “forced” by his pastor during a sermon saying “we have a coward among us” and started a mistaking comeback. He had to shed 100 pounds and 6 years of inactivity. Who knows prime time to prime time what the then unbeaten Jeffries, 19-0-2, would have done to Johnson, 52-5-10.
Jeffries had drawn with Joe Choynski, 37-6-3, who had knocked out Jack Johnson in 1901. Jeffries was known as “The Boilmaker” and was from Carroll, OH, living later in Burbank, CA. Johnson was known as “The Galveston Giant” being from Galveston, TX.
The bout was scheduled for 45 rounds but ended in the fifteenth. Tex Rickard was the referee and promoter. President Taft declined to be the referee. There were 16,528 in attendance.
The “White Hope” era started with Johnson. Jeffries had beaten the first black to claim being a champion in Peter Jackson, 51-3-13, in 1898, knocking him out in 3 rounds.
Johnson would later be knocked out by big Jess Willard in Havana, Cuba, in 1915 in a fight many say he “fixed” as he lay on the canvas with his arms shielding his eyes from the sun.