i have been studying him, the man is so under rated. I found this video, it's a great one
i have been studying him, the man is so under rated. I found this video, it's a great one
just because he is not the consensus #1 pick doesn't make him underrated. It is clear that several people still consider him 1 and most have him in their top 10-15. I think a better term for Jeffries is forgotten. I dont know if that is the Jack Johnson effect or the simple fact that the smaller pugs he fought have also been lost to history. or as a white fighter he was not tenacious enough? in the public image there is a major difference between Rocky (both the real and movie rocky) Dempsey, and Sullivan and then consider Jeffries.
It is true that Jeffries is one of the forgotten greats. Certainly, those who saw him in action - or knew people who saw him in action - up to the 1950s and 60s consistently ranked him within the top five all-time greatest heavyweights, and many times made him the all-time greatest. I hope he will no longer be forgotten after my book on him is finally written and published.
Last edited by raylawpc; 11-02-2006 at 02:49 PM.
cant wait for that one.
He must have been something. So many great great boxing people rate him so highly. The film I saw of him training in his prime certainly show he is NO slow moving guy. He was a athlete for real. Time for ESPN to do something on the man.
Of all of the heavyweight golden age guys I've studied,I'd have to say that Jeffries would be the best suited to hold their own and beyond in any later era.I've always felt Corbett and Fitz would be too light while Sullivan too crude and open.I'm thinking Jack Johnson and Peter Jackson could possibly pull it off.All of those guys were great in their era but Jeffries alone had the size,stregnth,power and agility to fare well in any era.Then sometimes I think the golden era guys were cut from a different and tougher breed and would simple out tough the modern era guys.It's something that really gets you thinking.I'll take the Sullivan through Jack Johnson era over any era since.Those guys were fascinating characters in a unique time in American history.To me Sullivan would make a fascinating movie and I'm surprised we haven't seen a modern day release on his life.There is so much on Sullivan that would absolutely rivet a movie audience.Hollywood seems to have run out of ideas.Why not do a movie on a Golden age heavyweight?
His contemporaries mostly speak about him with awe. And as raylaw said, up into the 50s and 60s he was always high on the all-time lists. He just seems to be underapreciated or forgotten today. Could be because the era in that he reigned - although a great era boxing wise - was a pretty quiet time in our history. If Jefferies was champion in the Roaring 20s, as Dempesy was, his impact may have been viewed today as much greater than it is now.
The great champions seem to have had paralells going on outside the ring during their reign that defined them as more than just boxers. Johnson had the first black heavyweight champion thing, Louis that American hero identification during WW2, Dempsey had that rags-to-riches story during a depression. Ali had all that political controversy surrounding him in the 60s. Even Marciano, I think, defined the tough hard working American of the Industrial age that was the 50s.---But Jefferies was just a low key guy who reigned during a relatively low key period. Thus, unlike the afore mentioned, nobody outside the boxing culture remembers who he was.
not so fast nor cut and dreid--sullivan was a shoulders first, leaper and modern fighter--get poollacks book. i learned ALOT from it --ALL WILL. thanks
Why is it that every fighter has to be either over or under-rated? My impression from reading boxing boards and magazines is that when Joe Blow says "A is over(under)-rated," it most likely means that Joe Blow is biased against (in favor of) A, and that in fact Joe Blow himself is the one deviating from the consensus. How about if for once we try admitting that most fighters are rated more or less correctly by the consensus? The way in which many people (even respected writers) abuse the over and under-rated terms borders on the comical, in my opinion.
I think that as time goes by and less and less people are alive that lived a certain fighters era,that those fighters are somewhat forgotten.This is especially true of the golden age heavyweights due to the fact that there is very precious little or no movies of them in action.Normally what film that's out there is primitive and jerky in the movements and not a true indication of their exact styles.To me when I watch Corbett,Fitz and Jeffries it's hard to tell just how good they really were.It's a shame.
Can Not stand it when someone uses a broad brush stroke to state that everything New is superior to the Old and I think it is just as bad when one makes the claim that everything OLD is vastly superior to anything New.
It is IMO shortsighted and lacks any amount of detaile research and comparitive measuring factoring competiton or anything else into these statements.
That said, it also bothers me when I hear comments such as "up until X date, everyone thought that X fighter was the best ever." Well, that is very true. But one also has to consider that the pool that they are comparing agianst isn't that large. Once the group expands, there definitely will be changes of opinion.
Some athletes remain timeless. Jim Brown certainly comes to mind. And I think a Wilt Chamberlain is another. But a George Mikan was for a long time thought of as the best Center AND player the NBA had. As Russell and Wilt and Kareem, and Oscar and Elgin and West and Barry and Bird and Erving and Magic and Micheal came along, that opinion now seems like it doesn't hold alot of water.
With Jeffries, yes at the turn of the century many did hold him in the highest regard. That does seem to have waned a great deal over time. But Johnson and Dempsey who came after him, seem to have held up better. The reason in MY opinion is that both were superior fighters.
Jimmy Wilde, Harry Greb, Joe Gans, Benny Leonard, Mickey Walker, Gene Tunney and many others are fighters who have stood the test of time and are generally considered among the very best in their divisions and of all time. They were thought very highly of several years ago and the same is true today.
Some fighters DO lose their luster. It is not SIMPLY becuase newer is better. But rather it MAY have to do with experts analyzing the fighter and they simply don't measure up the way they once did. I don't think it ALWAYS is the case that a fighter of yesteryear is no longer held is the high esteem that they once were SIMPLY becuase of the newer is better mindset. I think evaluations and reevaluations yield different results over time simply becuase opinions of the masses change.
I think this may be the case with Jeffries.
THis is just my opinion. I could be wrong.
There seems to be a lot of weight to the contention that one calling a fighter underrated may really be translated as one saying "that people don't think as highly of that fighter as I do causes me to pity their ignorance."
However, that does not mean the person is biased, nor does it mean they are wrong. They may be on to something....but at the same time how do they know the people that do not see things as they do do not at the same time know enough to have THEIR opinion?
They don't of course. Consensus of course can be often the product of many people being incorrect at the same time..... but bucking consensus requires more than a claim that it is a shame "I am the only one who sees things the real way".
Overrated and underrated are overused. I recall many people telling me a baseball great was underrated, when I think the true observation was they were not discussed or on the minds of enough people enough of the time. The player in question was not underrated, he was/is considered fabulous.
When overrated and underrated are used, the person saying so needs a point of reference. If Jeffries is underrated, for example, where should he be rated...and why...and on who's list?
Psuedo-intellectual? Not to me... Ithink to get to the point where we can debate things, we need to understand where we each are coming from, and under what circumstances, in what context we are speaking. I am confident no one will take umbrage with this post if I maintain that this is only my opinion and approach to things which I hope/find often cuts through the barriers and allows for a discussion where everyone can at least start on somewhat of the same page.
Just my opinion.
Last edited by Sharkey; 11-01-2006 at 11:18 AM.
Absolutely with you on this one Sharkey. I think there should be a moratorium on the use of the terms underrated and overrated.
I think a moratorium at this time would be highly overrated.
Rafael deserves the credit, Paulie regarding the moratorium. My only kinda-original contribution to the thread, which I hope will not be read to be something that everyone needs to pay attention to or treat seriously, would be asking that when we discuss things...we all know where each other is coming from and why in a greater sense than is the norm.
The fact is that Jeffries was highly regarded toward the end of his reign as champion; many knowledgeable boxing experts held him in awe after he retired, and recalled him with almost reverential tones. As I mentioned earlier, among those who saw him, or personally knew folks who saw him, he was regarded as one of the best of all-time – and by many as the best.
The problem, Hawk, is that Jeffries was a wonderful fighter but, frankly, boring and uninteresting outside the ring. (That said, he was also a very complex person, as I hope my book will bring out.) He was an introvert - almost painfully shy at the time he won the crown - and very circumspect when it came to his personal life, especially his relations with women. He did not like reporters, and did not like talking to them. There is a quote attributed to the New York World around the time of the Sharkey fight that praised Jeffries as a fighter, but wished he would retire “so that a more interesting man might assume the title.” It was probably a tough act to follow characters like the bombastic Sullivan, the egotistical Corbett, and the eccentric Fitzsimmons. The most controversial thing about Jeffries was speculation that he drank too much toward the end of his reign as champion. His ill-fated comeback attempt against Jack Johnson also damaged his reputation.
Johnson and Dempsey, whom you named, were also wonderfully talented fighters. But these men were extroverts and readily engaged the public and press. We also, perhaps, remember them as much for their exploits outside the ring as in it.
I think people have just forgotten about Jeffries because, on the surface, he wasn’t too memorable. It’s a shame because those who knew him thought that he was a terrific fighter. And, when you drill under the surface, you find a very interesting and complex human being.
Personality does tend to make you more remembered.
Personally I couldn't care if an athlete had the personality of a lampshade or not. Heck Larry Holmes is my favorite fighter of all time!
It's what one does inside the ring that interests me. ANd another good point you bring up is Styles. TO ME, as long as a fighter was effective, I really don't care if they were exciting or not as to where they should be ranked among the pantheon of greats or not. I may not find them interesting styslistically, but that too should not be held agianst them.
MY not thinking as highly of Jeff as some do, has nothing to do with flair, personality or excitement. I simply don't think he was as great as the heavyweight champions that I have rated ahead of him which is something like 15 or 16.
He's a top 20 Heavyweight all time IMO. Lower half.
I don't think I'm underrating him. And I wouldn't accuse those who think a bit more highly of him, of Overrating him. I simply disagree thier postions.
On a whole, I don't think he's over or underrated. Where I think he ranks seems just right to me. THose who think he should be higher or lower than where I have him, simply see him differently than I do.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
We are in general agreement, although I rank him much higher.
Jeffries was also an unprecidented giant for his day. The biggest puncher he ever faced was Fitz, a great pound for pounder but not Shavers or Foreman. He enjoyed huge strength and weight advantages which he would not have any time after the 1950's ... TO me he falls into the catagory of the unknowns ...
Giant? I just pulled the newspaper reports for his fight with Goddard -- Jeffries weighed 201! Even at his normal 215, he was no giant, even by those old standards.
We have had some good articles in WAIL! by Tracy Callis --
article 1 -- http://www.cyberboxingzone.com/boxing/w4x-tc.htm
article 2 -- http://www.cyberboxingzone.com/boxing/w0403-tc.html
On the CBZ record, Tracy has linked to EVERY Youtube video of Jeffires
When we started the CBZ, the idea was to profile all of the champions as follows --
Good points about weight disparity in the golden age.John L Sullivan had huge advantages in weight and stregnth against Charlie Mitchel who in the lone picture I've seen of him must have weighed a buck 60 soaking wet.In Corbett's defense against Mitchell Gentleman Jim probably had a 25 lb weight advantage.It seemed back then there were quite a few fighters that today we would term middleweights-light heavyweights getting heavyweight title shots.
The thing is, in comparing greatness you can only go by how a fighter did in his era.It's really impossible to say who would have beaten who so I don't get too worked up in that.It's apples and oranges.In general I will say that the old time fighters had a mental toughness advantage and heart over the modern era guys.Soceity in general was tougher those days.It took a stronger heart and inner toughness to live,survive and prosper in the fight game back then from what I have read.I'm not so sure I can see some of the greats in the modern era absorb the punishment that was dished out back then and keep coming the way it was done in the golden age.I think that inner toughness and heart has to count for somethingThat's just my opinion.
Jeffries was a giant in bone structure, like Max Baer. He wasn't very tall, and kept himself at a very lean weight through a diet that would be described by todays sports nutritions as unhealthy for an athlete, but he could weigh 250 easily if he wanted to. In fact at the age of 17 or so he walked around at 250 lbs, and not a fat 250. Fighting today, I see him around 230-240 or more with a six pack and a bodyfat percentage well under 10%, assuming he decided to light, eat like a modern athlete etc.
Just as Dempsey was a big man trained down to 180, Jeffries was that much bigger, trained down to 210-220. Put Lennox Lewis in that era and I doubt he weighs much over 210-220, though stretched out over a longer lankier frame than Jeffries, who wasn't much over 6' or maybe 6'1".
It's all about bone structure. A neanderthal man was only around 5'7" on average and under 200 lbs but had such beastly strength due to his bone structure that he would snap a taller and heavier athletic man in half. I'm not saying Jeffries possessed a neanderthal build, but closer to it than most heavyweights. I mean, the guy was not even a HUGE eater but weighed 350 lbs while looking under 300 soon after he retired. I have talked to a man who had met Jeffries once and shook his hands and he said Jeffries was one of the biggest and strongest men he had met in his life. He was like a football linebacker, he just filled a doorway and exuded strength and athleticism. Huge shoulders and upperbody. That kind of bone structure and musculature, even in his 50's or 60's.
Giant, yes when compared with a 170 Fitz, a 185 pound Corbett and a 185 pound Sharkey, his three most famous opponents ... I don't know ehere he was siad to weight 201...most bouts I am aware of have him between 208 to 220.
Here are Jeffries' weights in title fights as gleened from the newspapers of the day (his opponent's reported weight is in the (*)):
Jeff's height is generally reported between 6'1" and 6'2-1/2."
Fitz I (167) = 206
Sharkey II (183) = 215
Finnegan* (unknown) = 250 (estimated)
Corbett I (188) = 218
Ruhlin II (194) = 211
Fitz II (172) = 219
Corbett II (190) = 220
Munroe (186) = 219
Johnson (208) = 227
* Some dispute this listing as a title fight.
THe SF Examiner -- from its ringside reporter -- gave the official weights at 201 jefries and 194 Goddard. He did say some doubted the offial weight, stating they beleived Jeffries to be 215 -- but that ws the official announced weight.
I don't have the weights for the Goddard fight in my database, but we weighed 220 when he fought Choynski in November 1897 and 215 when he fought Jackson in March 1898 - so I doubt if the reported weight for Goddard at 201 in February 1898 is correct. 215 sounds more like it.
As I noted, the announced weight was 201 -- Goddard a very drained looking 194
As noted, also, many at ringside doubted the weight; not clear why the announced weight would have been intentionally wrong, but it does appear likely Jeff was around 215.
excellant post.Originally Posted by Kid Achilles
James J. Jeffries vs Tom Sharkey---1899
The photo Kikibalt just posted shows why it is such a tragedy for fans/historians that the official Jeffries-Sharkey film is lost. This beautiful still comes from the fight film.