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The fascinating career of Jess Willard was filled with highs, lows and redemption. The largest heavyweight of his day at 6-6 1/2 235, the Pottawatomie Giant defeated Jack Johnson to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World in 1915 and held the title for four years, until his celebrated loss to Jack Dempsey in 1919. He was inactive for almost five years until Tex Rickard booked his bout with Floyd Johnson in 1923. Willard trained hard and surprised everyone in-the-know when he emerged victorious and rehabilitated his image in the process.Just as significant was the fact that the bout was the first ever boxing match to be held at Yankee Stadium which had opened only a few weeks before. The House That Ruth Built would become a Mecca for boxing in the coming decades, hosting countless iconic bouts.Offered here is the actual program and ticket from that historic fight. The cover of the program reads: "Official Program. Championship Contenders Floyd Johnson vs. Jess Willard. Yankee Stadium, May 12, 1923. Proceeds for the Free Milk Fund." Inside features the tale of the tape for both boxers, plus a beautiful aerial image of "The Home of the Yankees." Meanwhile, the punched ticket reads: "Yankee Stadium, May 12, Free Milk Fund Campaign. Reserved $15."The eight-page program has wear with scuffs, border tears, and detached covers but all pages are present. The ticket is punched with light wear. An historic program and ticket from the first ever boxing match at Yankee Stadium and the redemption of Jess Willard.
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