Jack London Says Reno Crowds Eagerly Await Big Fight Because of ‘Old Blood of Adam That Will Not Down’

New York Herald/June 24, 1910

All the Men One Has Met in All the Earth He Will See in the Nevada City, From ‘Grizzled Fight Fans’ to ‘Youngsters,’ He Declares

Novelist Declares Reno Got the Big Combat Through a ‘Foul Blow’

‘Mike’ Murphy Examines Jeffries at His New Training Camp and is Enthusiastic Over the Big Fellow’s Fighting Condition

Reno has always been a live town, but just now it is quickening to a greater and growing liveliness than any it has ever known. Every train, east or west, brings in the sporting men, fight followers and the inevitable correspondent. It is to wonder. On the other hand, there is no wonder about it There must be a large remnant left of the large-bloodedness of the English-speaking race to evince such a tremendous interest in the particular sport of sports which it originated and developed until it became stamped today into the crystallization of many generations, the Marquis of Queensberry rules.

Everybody is arriving in Reno. All the men whom one has met in all the earth he meets again here, in Nevada’s metropolis. From all the lions of the old days down to the latest cubs, they are here, fight fans, grizzled and time-worn, who remembered far beyond the aching thirty-nine rounds at Chantilly, France, between Sullivan and Mitchell, down to the youngsters of yesterday, who were not dry behind the ears when Corbett and Fitzsimmons fought their historic fight in Carson, Nev.

Never in a war, at any one place, was congregated so large a number of writers and illustrators. When the Japanese threw 50,000 men across the Yalu into the teeth of the Russians on the Manchurian shore, on the walls of Wiju, but eleven correspondents looked on. Many men were killed, and the fate of great empires and ancient dynasties hung in the balance, yet only eleven men were there to tell what they saw to the world. But here in Reno today were ten times that number of correspondents.

Nor are they here to witness a bloody battle and the deaths of thousands. They are here to witness two strong men, hearty and husky, who will not kill each other but who will attempt, by skill and wit and gameness and endurance, to outdo each other in a sport that calls to the uttermost for the exercise of all these faculties.

For the man who would know life as it is, in all its naked facts, and not life as he surmises or dreams it ought to be, there is something of big and basic importance in the contemplation of the world-wide interest manifested in this fight. Why do men fight? Because of the money in it. An apt answer, but it will not apply to the following question: Why do men go to witness fights? Certainly not to spend money. There are easier ways of spending money than by traveling all the way to Nevada. They want to see fights because of the old red blood of Adam in them that will not down. It is a bit of profoundly significant human phenomena. No sociologist nor ethicist who leaves this fact out can cast a true horoscope of humanity.

There is another way of looking at it. The newspaper editors are skilled purveyors to the public of information the public wants. Did a few men only desire this particular information, the editors would be guilty of gross stupidity in sending to the front so large and expensive an aggregation of star sporting writers. But the editors are making no mistake. The point is that the public wants this information. The conclusion is that the public, despite countless asseverations to the contrary, is interested in prize-fighting.

Certainly Reno is interested. Reno is also proud. She considers herself fortunate. Once again, as in no other modern way, will she put herself and the State of Nevada on the map.

No masterpiece of prose, poetry, painting or sculpture could achieve this distinction for Reno. Well, it is a fact of life, and as a fact of life it is worthy of contemplation.

But Reno got the fight and is putting forth a great effort to make good in the matter of the housing and feeding and entertaining the army of guests that is descending upon her.

Jack Johnson has not yet arrived, but it seems as if all the rest of the world were already here. Jeffries is comfortably installed at beautiful Moana Springs. Today, in an old-fashioned game of two in and nine out, he swatted and batted and pitched and ran bases like a juvenile Cyclops. He was good to look upon. To such degree did the massive bulk of him loom up that other old-time heavies in the game with him, such as Corbett and Choynski, looked like middle-weights. Of entirely different build and texture is Jeffries from them. He is a big bear, heavy and rugged, and he is physically a man that one may well say occurs no oftener than once in a generation.

Jeffries was examined today by Mike Murphy, than whom there is no other who can better judge to the finest hair of a man’s condition. Murphy’s report was unequivocably favorable. More than that, it was enthusiastic. And yet a year ago Jeffries was reckoned a has-been. He has certainly devoted himself seriously and faithfully to the preparation for this fight.

To demonstrate that human nature is human nature the world over, whether in ships’ forecastles, sewing circles or training camps, Sullivan and Corbett celebrated their meeting to-day by indulging in a tiff of neither mean nor dire proportions. Nobody was hurt and the militia was not called out.

The works of Jack London and other American journalists are now freely available at The Archive of American Journalism.