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    Description

    1910 Johnson vs. Jeffries "The Incomparable Prize Fight" Poster.
    Exceedingly rare poster announces one of the most noteworthy matches in boxing history, as slumbering giant James Jeffries came out of retirement to face the Heavyweight Champ Jack Johnson, who had assumed the title with his 1908 victory over Tommy Burns at Sydney, Australia. Jeffries made no bones about the reasoning behind his return to the squared circle. "I feel obligated to the sporting public at least to make an effort to reclaim the Heavyweight Championship for the white race. I should step into the ring again and demonstrate that a white man is king of them all." Of course, things did not go as Jeffries had hoped, and in a surprising show of humility he admitted after the fight that he could not have defeated Johnson in his prime.

    To the best of our knowledge, the presented example is just the second known to survive to celebrate its centennial, the other representation firmly ensconced within the archives of the Nevada Historical Society in Reno, where this historic and paradigm-shifting battle was waged. The reaction to Johnson's victory was immediate and violent. Across the country white gangs descended upon celebratory gatherings of African-Americans, leaving twenty murdered in their wake. Films of the fight, expected to generate thousands in extra revenue for both fighters, were impounded at ringside. And a calculated campaign against Johnson, and his "Unforgiveable Blackness," would begin, forcing the Heavyweight Champion into exile and, ultimately, the penitentiary. No black man would again be given an opportunity to compete for the Heavyweight title until 1937, when Joe Louis claimed the belt.

    In the entirety of twentieth century sports history, only the emergence of Jackie Robinson could challenge the significance of this bout from a sociological standpoint. It's the reason why Heritage realized a price exceeding $11,000 in October 2009 for a ticket stub to Robinson's first Dodgers game. The presented poster is considerably more scarce, and far more of an aesthetic showpiece. The full body photographic images represent a true changing of the guard, from the formerly invincible white ex-Champion on the right to the dark-skinned reigning Champion at left. The 10x14" relic is pasted down to a cardboard backing, with the glue bleeding through to the front and causing the staining which is apparent in our catalog imagery. It should likewise be apparent that the visuals remain very strong despite these considerations. Our resident movie poster expert Grey Smith, one of the world's foremost experts in vintage paper, has confirmed the legitimacy of the piece, which will surely become the focal point of even the finest of private boxing collections.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2010
    4th-5th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,261

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