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1930s & Earlier / 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.