On July 4, 1910, the fight of the 20th century took place in Reno, NV. The reining heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, and former undefeated heavyweight champion, James J. Jeffries, squared off in Reno for a bout that transcended professional sports. More was on the line than just the Heavyweight Crown on that day.
To many, the fight was a battle for racial supremacy – as Johnson, the first black Heavyweight Champion was matched against Jeffries, who came to be known as “The Great White Hope.” Nearly one hundred years have passed - and next summer the professional boxing community, boxing fans, historians, political leaders, and the City of Reno will be celebrating the historic event.
With the recent passing of the Jack Johnson Congressional Resolution, and wide demand for a posthumous pardon for his 1912 violation of the Mann Act, the festivities in Reno will largely be a celebration of the life and career of the legendary fighter.
“The whole boxing community wants President Obama to move forward with the Pardon.” Says boxing historian, Gary Schultz. “The Pardon is long overdue, but there isn’t a more appropriate time than now as we approach the 100th anniversary of this fight.”
Event organizers include boxing historian and memorabilia collector Gary Schultz, USA Boxing Executive Director Mike Martino, and boxing promoter Terry Lane.
Festivities are currently being organized and will begin on Friday, July 2nd. On Friday evening, things kick-off with the “Jack Johnson Pardon” dinner celebration, multimedia historical presentation Fighting for the Soul of America, a celebrity discussion panel, continuous showing of the original 1910 fight film, and autograph sessions with past heavyweight champions.
Events will continue into Saturday, July 3rd beginning with “Breakfast With Champions” where boxing enthusiasts can eat breakfast with past boxing champions, USA Boxing silent auction, opening of a Johnson vs. Jeffries memorabilia showroom, book signings by various boxing authors, visitation to the 1910 training camp sites, and culminating with a night of live professional boxing.
On Sunday, July 4th at the actual Johnson vs. Jeffries fight site, a bell-ringing ceremony will take place honoring the 1910 battle with the bell from Johnson vs. Jeffries bout.
“July 4th 1910 was such an important day in the history of Reno, NV.” Says USA Boxing Executive Director, and Reno native Mike Martino. “People in this city have discussed for years how to celebrate that day, and we have some special things lined up.”
“It’s going to be a boxing summit.” Says Let’s Get It On Promotions’ Terry Lane. “Everyone is invited to Reno on the Fourth of July weekend.”
More details will be announced as July, 2010 draws near. For more information, please visit www.johnsonjeffries.com. Seating is limited, and events are expected to fill up quickly.