Black History Daily: Who was the First Black Heavyweight Boxing Champion?
Posted By: Stacie Coulter on August 29, 2011 |
Jack [John Arthur] Johnson (1878-1946) knocked out Tommy Burns on December 26 in Sydney, Australia, in the fourteenth round to become the first black heavyweight boxing champion. He lost only five of his first ninety-seven fights. Born in Galveston, Texas, Johnson was known as “Little Arthur” in his childhood. Because of his fearlessness, flamboyant style, and colorful life, he became one of the most reviled and hated men in America. Some experts called him the greatest fighter of this weight class ever.
In 1954 Johnson was elected to the Hall of Fame. His professional career, which included more that 125 fights, spanned more than thirty years; forty four of his wins were by knockouts. Johnson did not have a blissful boxing career.
He had difficulty getting a title fight despite an astounding record of 54 and 2 in official bouts. Once he did, and won, there was a hue and cry to find “The Great White Hope,” a white boxer who could win the title back. Johnson lost his title in Havana, Cuba, in 1915 and continued to wander until 1920, when he returned to his homeland, where he spent close to a year in prison. Once released, he boxed sporadically, winning some and losing others.
Johnson also continued to perform as a vaudevillian, which he had begun years earlier to supplement his boxing income. He was made a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. Johnson’s story is told in the stage play and movie The Great White Hope.
To learn more go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Johnson_...
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