Jack Johnson

First Black Heavy Weight Champion of the World

World Heavy Weight Champion 1908-1915

Some people say that Jack Johnson was the greatest heavy weight champion of all time, he reigned for 7 years but it would have been much longer had the champions like Jeffries and Burns not avoided him like the plague. He was 30 when he finally became champion being born in Glaveston Texas, USA on 31 March 1878 he died on 10 June 1946, winning 68, 49 on KO's lost 10 drew 10.

 

He learnt to fight in what are now known as battle royal's these are fights in which upto a dozen black youngsters are thrown into a ring for the entertainment of the white crowd. the sole survivor would scoop the pool, which mostly consisted of nickels and dimes thrown in by the crowd. This treatment was never forgotten by Jack.

 

There are some though that say that thanks to these fights he learned his ability to defend himself standing at just over 6ft and weighing in at 13st 10lb he was no giant.

 

He was regarded as the best Black heavy weight in the world by 1903 he challenged Jeffries for the title but Jeffries refused to step into the ring with a negro, When Burns became champion in 1906 Jack chased him around the world for two years before cornering him in Sydney Australia. Burns negotiated a purse of $25,000 while Jack only got $5000 win or lose but it didn't matter too him at last the title was going to be his.

 

Use The Law

Jack wanted to enjoy the high life after winning the title he played the part well he had flashy cars fine clothes, cigars and champagne, With a mouth full of Gold Teeth, he only had two weaknesses Gambling and white women, White America was outraged it was bad enough having a Black Champion of the World but one who beds white women this was too much.

 

The search was on for someone to wipe the smirk of Johnson's face. He rarely intrupted his high life when he stepped into the ring some said it looked like he had just come from the bar, yet no one was good enough to get near him.

 

The search for a white hero turned to one time champion Jeffries who had been retired for six years, but eventually he agreed to fight Jack, he really shouldn't have bothered, Johnson destroyed him.

 

Finally his opponents turned to the law. A new law had been passed which made it illegal to transport a white woman across a state line for immoral purposes, it didn't matter if the woman was willing is guilt was never in doubt under this riduculous legislation and he was found guilty and sentenced to a year and a day in prison, released on bail he skipped the country into Canada then travelled to Europe, he had two defences of his title in Paris, he then travelled to Buenos Aires where he successfully defended his title again, he then accepted a fight with the great white hope Jess Willard in Havana Cuba on 5 April 1915 by this time Johnson was 37 he was at a disadvantage in everything and his lifestyle was beginning to tell. It was a fight to the finish scheduled for 45 rounds but by the 26 round it was all over Johnson was floored by Willard's right hand and the rest is history.