Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Jeffries-Johnson and Gotch-Zbysko -- February 26. 2014
This page from the 09-July-1910 Moving Picture World has ads for two kinds of fight films. The Frank Gotch-Stanislaus Zbysko professional wrestling match on 01-June-1910 for the world heavyweight championship saw Gotch win the first fall in less than ten seconds (he attacked Zbysko during the handshake), and the second in 30 minutes. This was before professional wrestling matches were scripted. The film was produced by the Selig Polyscope company.
James J Jeffries had been heavyweight boxing champion from 1899 to 1905, when he retired undefeated. He came back in 1910 to answer the pleas of racists who did not like Jack Johnson, an African-American, being heavyweight champ. They met in Reno, Nevada on 04-July-1910. Johnson dominated the fight for 15 rounds. Jeffries' corner threw in the towel so he would not get knocked out.
The ad promises exclusive film rights, but many cities and states, fearing racial unrest, banned the film. In 1912, Congress banned interstate transportation of fight films.
The Jeffries-Johnson film is available in several versions on YouTube.
Jim Jeffries settled in Burbank, where he trained boxers and promoted fights in an old barn. The fights were popular with people in the film industry. The barn is now at Knott's Berry Farm.