15. Bederman Remaking Manhood extract

15. Bederman Remaking Manhood extract - 1 Remaking Manhood...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
1 Remaking Manhood through Race and "Civilization" At2:30 P.M. onJuly4, 1910, in Reno, Nevada, as the band played "All Coons Look Alike to Me," Jack Johnson climbed into the ring to defend his title against Jim Jeffries. Johnson was the first African American world heavy- weight boxing champion. Jeffries was a popular white former heavyweight champion who had retired undefeated six years before. Although it prom- i~_ed to be __ g_fi.p.e J:Aaj~lJ,L_J:!l. .QJ:"~.-tll::i_I! rner~ Pl1giliS_f!l_'l;T~~ ~t -~;-~e~ indeecrrhe Johnson-Jeffries match was the event of the year. Twenty thousand men from across the nation had traveled to Reno to sit in the broiling desert sun and watch the prizefight. Five hundred journalists had been dispatched to Reno to cover it. Every day during the week before the fight, they had wired be- tween 100,000 and 150,000 words of reportage about it to their home of- fices. Most had assured their white readership that Jeffries would win. On the day of the fight, American men deserted their families' holiday picnics. All across America, they gathered in ballparks, theaters, and auditoriums to hear the wire services' round-by-round reports of the contest. Over thirty thousand men stood outside the New York Times offices straining to hear the results; ten thousand men gathered outside the Atlanta Constitution. It was, quite simply, a national sensation. 1 Ever since 1899, when Jeffries first won the heavyweight championship, he had refused to fight any Negro challengers.JackJohnson first challenged him as early as 1903.jeffries replied, "When there are no white men left to fight, I will quit the business .... I am determined not to take a chance of losing the championship to a negro." 2 Jeffries' adherence to the color line was not unique. Ever since 1882, when John L. Sullivan had won the title, no white heavyweight champion had fought a black challenger, even though black and white heavyweights had previously competed freely. 3 Sullivan had announced he would fight all contenders-except black ones. "I will not fight a negro. I never have and never shall."4It was in this context that Jack 1
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
.J I! I J .I .1\J 2 CHAPTER ONE johnson began his career, and eventually defeated every fighter, black or white, who faced him. For two years Jeffries refused to fight johnson, but when Jeffries retired in 1905, the remaining field of white contenders was so poor that the public temporarily lost interest in prizefighting. Finally in 1908, the reigning white champion, Tommy Bums, agreed to fight johnson. By accepting johnson's challenge, Burns hoped to raise both interest and prize money. johnson promptly and decisively thrashed Bums, however, and won the title. Faced with the unthinkable-a black man had been crowned the most powerful man in the world!-interest in pugilism rebounded. The white press clam- ored for Jeffries to return to the ring. "Jeff must emerge from his alfalfa farm and remove that smile from johnson's face.jeff, it's up to you," implored jack London in the New York Hera!d.
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 05/25/2011 for the course HIST 303 taught by Professor Salesa during the Fall '10 term at University of Michigan.

Page1 / 14

15. Bederman Remaking Manhood extract - 1 Remaking Manhood...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online