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Jack Johnson World Heavyweight Champion The first black boxer to hold the world heavyweight title was Jack Johnson of Galveston, Texas. Johnson held the crown from 1908 through 1915. A superb defensive fighter, he would sometimes go through several rounds without his opponent landing a meaningful punch. When he beat Canada's Tommy Burns for the title in Australia in 1908, correspondent Jack London wrote, 'Not one second of any round could legitimately be scored for Burns.' Johnson so outclassed his opposition that his title reign inspired the Great White Hope movement in America to find someone with the proper pigmentation to beat him. Nat Fleischer, who edited The Ring magazine from 1922 through 1972, rated Johnson as the greatest heavyweight ever.
Tags: Jack  Johnson  heavyweight  champion 
Added: 6th February 2008
Views: 1624
Posted By: Lava1964
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2008-02-06 
A few years ago renowned documentarian Ken Burns produced a program for PBS about Johnson titled 'Unforgivable Blackness.' It is well worth watching.
Posted by: Naomi on 2008-02-06 
'the proper pigmentation'???
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2008-02-06 
Yep, that's what boxing's Great White Hope era was all about: Find a white heavyweight who could take the title from Johnson. Non-whites need not apply.
Posted by: Classico on 2008-02-14 
It was racist Jack London who coined the nefarious phrase ''Great White Hope''.

While he portrayed many of his dark skinned characters with much sympathy, all this disguised London's deep hatred for dark skinned people. See Letters of Jack London.


His letters to protegé Cloudesley Johns are especially telling.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2008-02-14 
What Classico says is true. After Johnson won the title, Jack London openly called for ex-champion James J. Jeffries to come out of retirement to bring the title back to the white race. That didn't work out too well.
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