Johnson Jeffries Fight         Jack Johnson Began His Life In

1018 words - 4 pages

Johnson - Jeffries Fight Jack Johnson began his life in Galveston, Texas, on March 31, 1878. He was the second of six children to Henry, a former slave, and Tiny Johnson. His family was very poor causing him to leave school in the fifth grade to work odd jobs around South Texas. He started boxing by fighting in "battles royal," matches in which young black children entertained white spectators who threw money at the winners (, pg.1). He soon earned himself the name "Little Artha (Encyclopedia Americana, pg.129)." Johnson began touring with black fighters winning nearly all his matches. He turned professional in 1897 following a period where he fought in private clubs in hometown, Galveston. He was arrested in 1901 and jailed because boxing was a criminal profession in Texas. After his release, he soon left Galveston for good.In 1908, Johnson was matched with white champ, Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia. Johnson won in the fourteenth round. The white public resented Johnson's flamboyant personality and wanted a "white hope" to dethrone him. Jim Jeffries would be their attempt. Jim Jeffries was born in Carroll, Ohio on April 15, 1875, but later moved to Los Angeles as a youth with his family. He began his career as Jim Corbett's sparring partner in Reno in 1896 on the West Coast, managed by William A. Brady, Corbett's manager. He was a magnificent athlete. He was very fast and agile and in his prime, stood at 6'2" and 220 pounds. He could run 100 yards in eleven seconds and high jump 5'10", which were definitely feats in those days at the turn of the century ( a string of victories, Jeffries challenged Bob Fitzimmons for the heavyweight title at Coney Island, New York on June 9, 1899. Jeffries won by knockout in the eleventh round with a left-hook, right-uppercut combination (Robert Cassidy, pg.1). The training for this fight, with middleweight Tommy Ryan, is what developed Jeffries style. He boxed out of a crouch where he protected his face with his right forearm, and advanced with a probing left hit. His left hook was particularly effective when used from this crouching position (Robert Cassidy, pg. 1).Jeffries officially announced his retirement from boxing in 1905. He was the first man to retire as an undefeated (18-0-2, 15 KOs) heavyweight champion (Robert Cassidy, pg.2).In retirement Jeffries became an alfalfa farmer and bloated to more than 300 pounds. Jeffries had been asked to be the "white hope" to dethrone Jack Johnson. Although Jeffries had formerly refused to fight Johnson because he was black, Jeffries agreed in late 1909 to fight Johnson for the championship title the next summer at the age of 35. In training, Jeffries trimmed down to 227 pounds, seventeen off from his prime weight of 210.George "Tex" Rickard, the greatest promoter in boxing history, won the bid to promote the Johnson-Jeffries fight. He had planned on it to take place in San...

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