On July 4, 1910, Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries stepped into a custom-built boxing ring in Reno, Nevada, with over 20,000 fight fans from across the country and around the world on-hand to witness what had been hyped as the “Battle of the Century.”
Johnson, an intimidating boxer and the first African American to hold the World Heavyweight Championship, was a pariah amongst white America because of his refusal to live his life according to the bigoted social norms prevalent during his day.
Jeffries – the former champion who had retired undefeated three years earlier, never having agreed to face Johnson – had come out of retirement as the “Great White Hope” to take back the heavyweight championship for the white race.
A fight anticipated like no other, before or since, the Johnson-Jeffries match is still cited as one of the most important sporting events of all time. And now, exactly 100 years later, the city of Reno will honor the legacy of this most famous of fights with a three-day celebration, July 2-4, 2010, featuring boxing celebrities, family members of those involved in the original fight, and live professional boxing at the Grand Sierra Resort which will be aired by Fox Sports Net.
“We’re very excited that family members representing all four of the principle parties involved in making the original fight happen – Jack Johnson, Jim Jeffries, promoter Tex Rickard and acting Governor Denver Dickerson – will be able to attend the 100-year anniversary celebration,” said Terry Lane of Let’s Get It On Promotions, which is helping organize the celebration.
Just like in 1910, when over 20,000 people streamed in to Reno (population approximately 15,000 at the time) to witness the original fight, visitors to the 100-year anniversary celebration will have the opportunity to tour the original fight site as well as the locations of both Johnson’s and Jeffries’ pre-fight training camps.
Other attractions, hosted by Reno’s Eldorado Hotel and Casino, include a Gala dinner remembering the “Fight of the Century,” with multimedia presentations and honored guests and family members in attendance; and the Al Bernstein Live Boxing Party, which will allow audience members to hear from and match wits with legendary boxing commentator Al Bernstein (aka “the Voice of Boxing”).
Dates, times and more details about these and other events planned for the Johnson-Jeffries 100-year anniversary celebration can be found online at www.JohnsonJeffries2010.com, along with more history of the original fight and information about lodging packages available for the weekend.