FROM THE MORGUE
Copyright 2009 by William A. Mays, Proprietor
December 3, 1904
Jim Jeffries' repeated refusal to fight Jack Johnson, because of the latter's color, has given rise to considerable argument regarding his justification for such a proceeding. Jeff does not seem to care one bit how many people may knock him and even accuse him of cowardice in warding off Johnson with the old-time color line dodge. He won't budge from his position, notwithstanding the public clamor that he fight the negro champion.
Jack Johnson's record entitles him to a match with Jeffries and he is the only man now in sight who would seem to have a chance with the hitherto invincible rivet driver. Jeff will not add any to his popularity by sticking to his lately adopted color line. On his part, this position is most inconsistent, as Jeffries has fought more than one negro in the past, notably Bob Armstrong, in this city. Many people say Armstrong was the cause of Jeff's drawing the color line, because he broke his arm on Armstrong's head.
Ordinarily fighters don't make much of a hit when they draw the color line. The fighting game is not a calling that permits of such finely drawn social distinctions. The public does not care whether the champion in a certain class is black or white or green as long as he's a good, game fighter and willing to fight any deserving aspirant for his title without surrounding his championship pedestal with a lot of impossible and unreasonable conditions.
When a fighter draws the color line it is usually not far to seek for the "nigger in the woodpile." A few years back many a first-class featherweight drew the color line on George Dixon. It's pretty safe to say that Tommy Ryan's principal reason for the color line was Joe Walcott. Even old John L. Sullivan had a bad case of the color line bugaboo. Peter Jackson was in his prime in those days. It's a cinch that Jimmy Britt's former color line was inspired by Joe Gans, but how quickly he forgot his scruples against a black skin when it looked pretty sure for him to beat Gans. Now that he has more confidence in himself, Britt will probably not mention the color line again.
So, taken on the whole, the color line is looked upon as a pretty shallow excuse for a good fighter to use in side-tracking a good match. There are but few who think Jeffries has any fear of Jack Johnson, but he, nevertheless, lays himself open to an accusation of cowardice in refusing to meet the husky negro.
Jeffries has a strong hold on the American people. He is a most popular champion. But a fighter is expected to fight, not to rest on his laurels, while there is a man in sight who has a possible chance for the title. Jeff's most partisan admirer must admit that Johnson has a chance. His record certainly gives him a stronger title to fight for the world's heavyweight championship than Jack Munroe had. Denver Ed Martin is rated a better man than Jack Munroe. Yet Johnson put him out in exactly the same time and method in which Jeff finished the miner.
The fight loving public wants to see Jeffries fight and fight soon. Jack Johnson stands ready. It's up to Jeffries to forget the color line until he has rubbed this big black speck off his title.
|Jeffries Thus Evades a Fight With
Clever Jack Johnson.
Colored Heavyweight Champion of the World
Against Whom Jeffries Raises the Color Line.