|Johnson stands over Jeffries
In “The Battle of the Century” from his volume The Big Smoke, Adrian Matejka describes the historic fight between Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries. Jefferies left retirement to fight Johnson and return the heavyweight title to white athletes and by extension white America.
Matejka divides the poem into eleven rounds of the actual fifteen rounds of the fight. The first six rounds of the poem are consecutive; however, the remaining five rounds (from 8 to 15) skip around sequentially. Although Jeffries is often given credit for his ability to absorb the beating, the length was no accident. Johnson wanted the fight to persist in order to showcase and prolong his dominance over Jeffries. In “Round Three,” he explains:
I knew beforeIn the sixth round, just before the break, Johnson begins to go to work on Jeffries: “A left hook cut Jeffries’s right cheek./A straight left blocked up his right eye.” While this is not the first time he strike Jeffries, it appears to be the first consecutive blows.
the fight I would
hurt Jeffries, but
hurt wasn’t enough.
I wanted to take
the man’s pride
like a horse’s bridle
& send him into
Which round of the fight did you find most captivating or interesting. Why?
--Jeremiah Carter and Howard Rambsy II