Regular price $20,000.00

HISTORY: Jack Johnson, the first African American to win the World Heavyweight Title, followed champion Tommy Burns around the world in order to procure a fight with him. The tour stopped in Sydney, Australia, where, under the promotion of Hugh McIntosh the fight was arranged. The date was set for December 26, 1908 and was held in the morning so as to not interfere with the afternoon racing crowd. Burns was small, but tough and had vast experience before and after winning the title. It added up to little against the bigger, stronger, quicker, Jack Johnson. Johnson played with Burns for 13 rounds before the police stopped the contest in the 14th. Jack Johnson had the coveted title and the world saw a new face in boxing. Johnson received $5,000 and Burns $30,000, which was the largest amount ever earned by a boxer for a single fight up to that time. Former World Heavyweight Champion James J. Jeffries was asked to referee the fight, but he wanted $5,000 plus his expenses paid. Burns was a 6 to 4 favorite. Over 20,000 people crammed into Sydney Stadium at Ruschcutters Bay and another 30,000 were estimated to be outside the stadium perched in trees, on roofs, up power poles and wherever they could to gain a vantage point. Promoter Hugh McIntosh refereed the fight. It was the first fight he ever refereed and in the very first round he made a critical error. [According to a column by Robert Edgren who actually spoke to McIntosh] According to Burns, [and later substantiated by McIntosh] Referee McIntosh took hold of Tommy's left glove while forcing a break in the first round and Johnson struck him on the jaw with a right uppercut. The force of the blow lifted Burns off his feet and sent him to the canvas for a count of eight. Both had agreed to break clean. Johnson mocked Burns from the onset: "Poor little Tommy, who told you you were a fighter?" And on the rare occasion when Burns managed to land a punch, Johnson laughed and said, "Poor, poor, Tommy. Who taught you to hit? Your mother?" Although most of what he said was relatively banal, it was always accompanied by a sardonic smile. The fight was stopped by the police. Burns always claimed he could have continued had the police not intervened. Lightweight boxer Rudy Unholz later admitted to promoter Otto Floto that he and a pal had crawled under the ring prior to the fourteenth round and shouted for the police to stop the fight. Unholz worked Johnson's corner and had bet a large sum of money on Jack winning. The New York Times reported: "The end came in the fourteenth round when the police, seeing Burns tottering and unable to defend himself from the savage blows of his opponent, mercifully stopped the fight. Previously it had been arranged that if the police interfered a decision would be rendered on points, and referee McIntosh without hesitation declared the big black man the winner, for all through the fight he had shown himself Burns's master in every style of fighting." Jack London, the famous novelist, was in Sydney covering the fight for the New York Herald. He wrote: "The fight? There was no fight. No Armenian massacre could compare with the hopeless slaughter that took place today. The fight, if fight it could be called, was like that between a pygmy and a colossus....But one thing now remains. Jim Jeffries must emerge from his alfalfa farm and remove the golden smile from Jack Johnson's face. Jeff, it's up to you! The White Man must be rescued." A month after Johnson won the championship, James J. Jeffries wrote: "Tommy Burns has his price”$30,000. Burns has sold his pride, the pride of the Caucasian race...The Canadian never will be forgiven by the public for allowing the title of the best physical man in the world to be wrested from his keeping by a member of the African race....I refused time and again to meet Johnson while I was holding the title, even though I knew I could beat him. I would never allow a negro a chance to fight for the world's championship, and I advise all other champions to follow the same course....All night long I was besieged with telegrams asking me to re-enter the ring. I answer them now as I have answered them hundreds of times: 'I have fought my last fight.'" This turned out to be untrue as Johnson and Jeffries would meet a year and a half later. Offered here is an exceedingly rare, original, first generation panorama photo depicting the crowd, the stadium and the fighters and their seconds in the ring. Johnson is seen towering over the smaller Burns.

FULL DESCRIPTION: This is an original, first generation, panorama photo. In the lower right corner are the words, "Kerry Sydney Copyright Burns-Johnson Boxing Contest 14 Rounds Won By Johnson On Points Stadium Sydney Dec 26th 1908 Purse 7500 Gate 26,000 Audience 20,000 Referee Hugh D McIntosh. The photograph has had some professional restoration in the lower left and lower right areas. The ring shot is untouched and perfectly clear. Some discoloration at upper right. Not creased or torn. A magnificent, important and incredibly rare panorama of one of boxing's most historic events. 14" x 37." The first we have seen.

Size: 14 x 37

Condition: very good