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Silver State Sights - The site of the fight of the century

The boxing world converged on Reno in 1910
Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 10:22 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The century was only ten years old, but it was already dubbed “the fight of the century.”

“It was more than a sport. It was black versus white at the time,” explained Tommy Lane, son of hall of fame referee Mills Lane and historian of the sport.

Jack Johnson had recently become the first black heavyweight champion. He was fighting Jim Jeffries, who had retired undefeated and was coming out of retirement to fight Johnson, and was referred to by many as “the great white hope.”

And if you think Reno feels like an unusual spot for the biggest fight in boxing, you aren’t alone.

“It’s a little bit of a fluke that happened in Reno,” Lane mentioned. “It was originally scheduled in San Francisco.”

But, because of pressure from the federal government promoter Tex Rickard moved it

“It was between Reno and Goldfield, and Reno was on the railroad,” Lane said. “They built a stadium that can hold 20,000 people in two weeks which is incredible. The population of Reno at the time was about 10,000 people, so the city more than doubled with the fight.”

The fight was held on July 4th, 1910 on this site on what is now E. Fourth St.

Jeffries entered the ring the odds-on favorite, but quickly proved overmatched. The fight was stopped in the 15th round by his corner, it appeared to avoid the embarrassment of a knockout. Many felt Johnson could have ended it much sooner. It was an outcome that would forever impact the sport of boxing.

“I think this event is the most historically significant event to of ever taken place in Reno sports or otherwise, “Lane stated.

A stop along RTC’s Lincoln line now showcases the fight near the Nevada state historical marker at the Corner of Fourth and Toano in Reno.

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