George "Battling" Nelson's Last Hurrah

The plaque is base metal composite and contains no brass, bronze or copper. Plaque text written by Andrew Barbano
The plaque was manufactured by Mathews Bronze courtesy of Sierra Memorial and RPI Printing and Mailing.


The Fight of the Century, 108 years hence and always with us as one of history's seminal civil rights events

The Johnson training camp monument on Mayberry Drive.

The Fight of the Century took place in Reno on July 4, 1910. "Great White Hope" and undefeated former champion James Jeffries was soundly thrashed by Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion. It was arguably the catalyst of the modern civil rights movement. The NAACP had been founded the previous year. The bout took place in a wooden stadium built for the occasion at E. 4th and Toano, today the site of a state historical marker. Johnson trained at a resort on Mayberry Drive. Tim Elam, the current property owner, built a monument at the corner of Mayberry at Sherwood. (See right. —>)

After a nationwide search and more than two years of work, on Friday, August 17, 2018, at Moana Springs, the final link of the Fight of the Century triangle was completed in honor of boxing historian George "Battling" Nelson. His daughter, Zabette Nelson Buzzone, gave a moving testament to her father. It will be featured on the upcoming "Old Tales of Nevada" TV special. (See below.)

City Councilmembers Paul McKenzie and Naomi Duerr represented the City of Reno. Former President Rudy Viola spoke on behalf of United Auto Workers Local 2162/AFL-CIO. President Patricia Gallimore represented the Reno-Sparks NAACP as Vice-President Andrew Barbano emceed. Past-President RIchard Jay spoke on behalf of the Great Basin Youth Soccer League. Former Nevada State Treasurer Patty Cafferata attended as did retired Washoe County Sheriff's Captain Heidi Howe.

Jeffries' training site on West Moana and Baker Lanes in southwest Reno is now the location of Richard Jay Field. The 4;30 p.m. dedication preceded the first University of Nevada-Reno women's soccer game of the season at 5:30. Admission was free with donation of a can of food for the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.

Before Sept. 29: Video of the dedication and other material is featured on the September 23 edition of the long-running "Old Tales of Nevada" television program complete with historical Fight of the Century footage. The program discusses books about the fight by local authors, including "Johnson-Jeffries—Dateline Reno" by former Reno Gazette-Journal reporters Ray Hagar and Guy Clifton. Reno-Sparks NAACP First Vice-President Andrew Barbano joins hosts Hugh Roy Marshall and John O'Brien. Clifton appears in a boxing segment.

WHERE TO WATCH: CW Network/Northern Nevada 7:00 a.m. Sunday Sept. 23, 2018 —> Spectrum Channel 12 or 695 HD, Direct TV Channel 9,
over the air on KOLO Channel 8.3. Streaming here anytime.

Reno News & Review remembers George Nelson's ultimately successful battle for a posthumous Jack Johnson presidential pardon
By Dennis Myers 6-23-2016

The above plaque was placed at Reno's Moana Stadium on August 17, 2018 in high-hearted and loving memory of my friend and union brother, George "Battling" Nelson (what I called him) —
Andrew "Bruiser" Barbano (what he called me)

[CWA 9413/AFL-CIO]


March 31: A birthday for giants — Jack Johnson and César Chávez

March 31 — On this date in 1870, Thomas Peterson Mundy of Perth Amboy became the first African American to vote under the 15th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which had been ratified the previous day (he also served as a school principal and was later elected to the Middlesex County Commission); in 1878, boxer (and future world heavyweight champion) Jack Johnson was born in Galveston; in 1911, after three years of prosecutions by the (Theodore) Roosevelt and Taft administrations of newspapers that reported on tawdry government conduct in the construction of the Panama Canal, the cases—which were thrown out by the courts—formally came to an end when a U.S. attorney in New York requested permission to enter a filing called a nolle prosse dropping all criminal libel charges; in 1927, César Chávez was born near Yuma, Arizona; in 1949, attorney Madison Graves filed charges against Las Vegas police officers after a teenager was beaten in the city jail and then given no medical attention to head injuries for four hours; in 1961, what was reported to be Reno’s first sit-in was staged by African Americans at the Overland Hotel’s café while elsewhere in the downtown a picket line was thrown up at the Nevada Bank of Commerce; in 2008 (and 2018), César Chávez Day will be celebrated with a large gathering at the Circus Circus Hotel in Reno. [Courtesy of longtime Nevada reporter Dennis Myers' daily Poor Denny's Almanac of 3-31-2018, Copyright © 2007-2018 Dennis Myers.]

In his own words: George Nelson with César Chávez and UAW President Walter Reuther at UFW groundbreaking


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