The fight between Jack Johnson, the man with the golden smile, and James J. Jeffries, the “Great White Hope”, on Independence Day 1910, in Reno, Nevada, was the biggest, most avidly followed sporting event the country had ever seen... an explosive blend of athleticism and racial tension. Jeffries transformed himself from overweight and soft into a muscular and determined challenger who captured the imagination of an entire country bent on watching him destroy the black champion. Johnson persisted in being his own man, unafraid to buck the stringent social mores of the day by openly cavorting with white women, speaking his mind, and standing defiantly before the country.

Never once did the men shake hands, and their fight so galvanized the nation that after Johnson lost the title, more than twenty years would pass before another black man would be permitted to contend for boxing's top prize. “America On The Ropes” tells the story of this famous prizefight and serves as a disturbing reflection of a nation still struggling with the failure of reconstruction and unwilling to come to terms with its promise of freedom and justice for all.