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James Jeffries

Titles: Heavyweight champion 1899-1905
   
Record: 18-1-2 

Born: May 15, 1875 in Carroll, Ohio (USA)   

Years active: 1896-1910
 
Nickname: The Boilermaker

If it were not for the one comeback loss to Jack Johnson the world would
recognize two undefeated heavyweight champions instead of just Marciano.
The comeback is perhaps the only mistake Jeffries ever made in his boxing
career. Jeffries allowed himself to be lured out of retirement by a frantic 
white establishment looking for a fighter who could defeat the hated Jack 
Johnson. In his prime Jeffries weighed about 220 pounds and at the time 
stood a imposing 6 foot 2 inches tall. Jeffries was also one of the first 
fighters to fight out of a crouch which actually took away his height 
advantage. Jeffries was taught how to fight by former middleweight and 
welterweight champion Tommy Ryan and kept his left arm extended at all
times while holding his right hand back to cover his face. The left hook
was generally regarded as his best and also his finishing punch. Jeffries
was born to a Methodist preacher in Carroll, Ohio. At the age of seven the
family moved to California where a young Jeffries excelled in sports like
wrestling, boxing and track. At the age of 16 Jeffries stopped going to
school and started to work at a boiler making factory where he earned
his nickname of "The Boilermaker". Jeffries was quickly thrown in against
the best fighters of his time and after 5 knockout wins held the very 
talented Joe Choynski and Gus Ruhlin to draws in 20 round bouts in his
next two bouts. These impressive fights got Jeffries invited to the 
training camp of heavyweight champion James Corbett. It was brutal for a 
still raw Jeffries as the more experienced Corbett used his footwork to 
outpunch and beat up on the bigger but less experienced man. Jeffries
stayed on however and took a lot of punishment for it, during these 
sparring sessions Jeffries swore he would get back at Corbett in the 
future. After Jeffries left camp he defeated a aging and sickly Peter 
Jackson in 3 one sided rounds, still it earned him national recognition. 
A fight with Tom Sharkey followed which went 20 hard rounds. Jeffries 
outweighed Sharkey by 35 pounds and generally had the best of every round 
but could not knock the tough Sharkey out. These two wins propelled 
Jeffries to a title fight against legendary Bob Fitzsimmons. Once again 
the size of Jeffries was the difference as he pushed and shoved the smaller
Fitzsimmons all over the ring, while busting up Bob with a steady jab. 
After a second round knockdown of Fitzsimmons it was all to apparent who 
would win the fight. A rematch with Sharkey was much thought than expected 
and went 25 rounds. At the end Jeffries was bleeding from the mouth and 
ear while Sharkey's ear was so swollen that Jeffries commented that it was 
like hitting a wet sponge. Both fought on even terms until Jeffries did 
more in the late rounds to earn the decision win. Some thought Sharkey 
had done enough to win however. Looking for a soft touch after the tough 
fight with Sharkey, Jeffries knocked out Jack Finnegan 35 seconds into the 
fight in his next bout. Now a fight with James Corbett was made, and 
Jeffries was looking for revenge of those sparring sessions. They met in 
Coney Island, New York in 1900 and in the first 20 rounds it looked as if 
Jeffries was still nothing more than a sparring partner for Corbett. The 
footwork was again baffling Jeffries and Corbett still had a speed advantage 
even at the age of 34. Corbett would fatigue after the 20th round however 
and Jeffries began to connect with is left hook and in the 23rd round 
Corbett was caught with a straight left followed by a left hook to the jaw. 
Corbett could not beat the count and Jeffries had his revenge. Jeffries 
gave Fitzsimmons a rematch which almost cost him the title. Fitzsimmons 
learned well from his mistakes and used the same movement that Corbett 
used to confuse Jeffries. At the end of 5 rounds Jeffries had a cut under 
his right eye, a bloody nose and a cut mouth. Jeffries had a fighting heart 
however and a straight right hand that landed above the heart of Fitzsimmons 
turned the tide. Fitzsimmons battled back but the punch had done a lot of
damage. In the eight round Jeffries landed a hook to the stomach followed
by a left hook to the jaw to drop Fitzsimmons for the count. A rematch with
Corbett was granted and again Corbett fought well early but his age and
the size of Jeffries again proved too much. In the 10th round Jeffries
broke 2 of Corbett's ribs and finished of the old warrior. A exhibition
tour of the country was followed by a retirement announcement. Jeffries
had retired as a undefeated heavyweight champion, Jeffries had made 7
defenses of his title which he won after only 13 bouts as a pro. He should 
have stayed retired but money and public pressure from white people to 
defeat the new black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson proved too much for
Jeffries to resist. Early rumors that the fight was fixed for Jeffries 
proved incredibly wrong when Johnson utterly and completely destroyed
Jeffries. After 6 years of retirement and at the age of 35 Jeffries was 
no match for the Johnson who was in his prime. Still credit must be given 
to Jeffries who did not dog it, lost over 100 pounds and came into the 
fight in very good condition considering his age. Still Johnson administered 
a painful beating of Jeffries and did not loose a round, he at times toyed 
with his rival in a almost shameful fashion. After 15 one sided rounds 
Johnson knocked Jeffries out mercifully ending the slaughter. Jeffries 
returned home to Burbank California to live in retirement. The stock market 
crash of 1929 forced Jeffries into bankruptcy however. Jeffries turned to 
touring with a theater company and turned his barn into a gym and for use 
in amateur boxing tournaments, to earn money. After his wife of 37 years 
died in a car accident Jeffries was never the same and sank into a deep 
depression, 5 years later he suffered a stroke which left him paralyzed 
down one side. The one thing he still loved to do was talk boxing with 
reporters and told them the one mistake he made was to comeback and fight 
Jack Johnson. He also maintained that the fight with Johnson would have 
been much closer had they fought in his prime, he did not state that he
would have beaten Johnson however. Jeffries was 77 when he died of a 
heart attack.

Career Record: 18 W, 1 L, 2 D (15 K.O's)


     1896

     Jan     Hank Griffin            Los Angeles, Ca         KO 14
     Feb     Jim Barber              Los Angeles, Ca         KO  2
     Jul  2  Dan Long                San Francisco, Ca       KO  2

     1897

     Apr  9  Theodore Van Buskirk    San Francisco, Ca       KO  2
     May 19  Henry Baker             San Francisco, Ca       KO  9
     Jul 17  Gus Ruhlin              San Francisco, Ca        D 20
     Nov 30  Joe Choynski            San Francisco, Ca        D 20

     1898

     Feb 28  Joe Goddard             Los Angeles, Ca         KO  4
     Mar 22  Peter Jackson           San Francisco, Ca       KO  3
     Apr 22  Pete Everett            San Francisco, Ca       KO  3
     May  6  Tom Sharkey             San Francisco, Ca        W 20
     Aug  5  Bob Armstrong           New York, NY             W 10
     
     1899

     Jun  9  Bob Fitzsimmons         Brooklyn, NY            KO 11
             -Won Heavyweight championship of the World
     Nov  3  Tom Sharkey             Brooklyn, NY             W 25
             -Heavyweight Championship of the World

     1900

     Apr  6  Jack Finnegan           Detroit, Mi             KO  1
             -Heavyweight Championship of the World
     May 11  Jim Corbett             Brooklyn, NY            KO 23
             -Heavyweight Championship of the World

     1901

     Nov 15  Gus Ruhlin              San Francisco, Ca       KO  5
             -Heavyweight Championship of the World

     1902

     Jul 25  Bob Fitzsimmons         San Francisco, Ca       KO  8
             -Heavyweight Championship of the World

     1903

     Aug 14  Jim Corbett             San Francisco, Ca       KO 10
             -Heavyweight Championship of the World

     1904

     Aug 26  Jack Munroe             San Francisco, Ca       KO  2
             -Heavyweight Championship of the World

     1910

     Jul  4  Jack Johnson            Reno, Nv                TKOby 15
             -Heavyweight Championship of the World