CSG-certified Jack Johnson Boxing Card in Fighting Form

Posted on 2/28/2022

Johnson transcended boxing to become a pop culture icon during the early 1900s.

In the world of sports, few names invoke true greatness like Jack Johnson, and long before athletes regularly branched out into other avenues of business, he was a trailblazer. Long before it was the norm, Johnson ventured into nightclubs, endorsement deals, memoirs and more based on his boxing career.

Certified Sports Guaranty® (CSG®) recently certified this 1915 Cope’s Cigarettes #37 Jack Johnson card, giving it a CSG 5.5 grade, with sub-grades of 5.5 for Centering, 5 for Corners, 7 for Edges and 7 for Surface. The card features a black border with a thin white trim around the edge. Johnson’s photo is centered with his name at the bottom. The top and bottom of the card feature the Cope’s Cigarettes brandname. The back of the card provides the set name — Boxers — and a short blurb about Johnson, with the Cope Brothers logo at the bottom.

Click images to enlarge.

About the Cope’s Cigarettes boxers set

The 1915 Cope’s set is best known for boxers Jack Johnson and John L. Sullivan, but there is another unique element that makes this set popular with collectors. Several of the boxers in the set are featured wearing military uniforms. At the time, World War I was expanding throughout Europe, and a number of the world’s best boxers would be drafted into the conflict. Unfortunately, many of the young men featured in the Cope’s set would not return home from the war.

Jack Johnson, boxing and beyond

On July 4, 1910, Jack Johnson and James J. Jeffries met in Reno, Nevada, for the “Fight of the Century.” Jeffries had retired six years earlier to keep his title without having to fight Johnson. The fight took place in downtown Reno in front of 20,000 spectators and featured a $100,000 purse. A thermometer at ringside registered 110 degrees. The fight went 15 rounds before Jeffries’ corner threw in the towel. For his win, Johnson took home $65,000 and the World Heavyweight Title. This was the only career loss for Jeffries.

Johnson opened a nightclub in Harlem in 1920. He also endorsed many products, for which he was well paid. He used this money to fund several expensive hobbies, including automobile racing, and he wrote two memoirs. Today, there is a Jack Johnson Park in his hometown of Galveston, Texas, which features a life-sized statue of him.

At the time of this writing, this card is the highest CSG-graded card from the Cope’s Cigarettes set. To find out the number of sports cards certified by CSG in a particular grade, be sure to check out the CSG Population Report here.


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