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Jack Johnson vs. James Jeffries: Topics in Chronicling America

Boxer Jack Johnson won the "Fight of the Century" against James J. Jeffries, sparking responses nationwide. This guide provides access to materials related to "Johnson vs. Jeffries” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Downfall of pugilism's idol: Jeffries knocked out." July 6, 1910. The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, CA), Image 9. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Dubbed the “Fight of the Century,” the boxing match between the first African American World Heavyweight Champion, Jack Johnson, and the previously undefeated World Heavyweight Champion, James J. Jeffries was one of the most anticipated matches of all time.  Jeffries defeat in the 15th round triggered both celebrations and race riots in cities across the U.S. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


July 4, 1910 Johnson vs. Jeffries boxing match for World Heavyweight Champion takes place in a stadium built specifically for the fight in Reno, Nevada.
July 5, 1910 Johnson’s victory in the 15th round ignites both celebrations and race riots in cities across the nation.
1908 - 1915 Johnson's reign as World Heavyweight Champion.