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Johnson-Jeffries Fight: Introduction

Fight - Artist RenderingThis exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of the historic heavyweight boxing match between James J. Jeffries and Jack Johnson that took place in Reno, Nevada on July 4, 1910. The fight was hailed as "The Fight of the Century." Jeffries, a white boxer and former undefeated heavyweight champion, came out of retirement to reclaim the championship from his black competitor Johnson. Jeffries was dubbed "The Great White Hope" and whites across the country hoped he would steal the title from Johnson, thus demonstrating racial superiority.

The fight took place in front of approximately 20,000 people, at a ring built just for the occasion in downtown Reno. Johnson proved stronger and more nimble than Jeffries. In the 15th round, after Jeffries had been knocked down three times, his camp called it quits to prevent Johnson from knocking him out.

The historical photographs included in the exhibit come from the collections of the Nevada Historical Society and the Special Collections of the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries. For information on ordering reprints, please see the Credits & Collaboration page.