History of the Heavyweights part 6 (Jack Johnson) - Boxing Forum
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#1
Old 12-10-2005, 01:48 PM
kerrminator
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Default History of the Heavyweights part 6 (Jack Johnson)

Jack Johnson


There are boxing aficionados who put Jack Johnson above Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali in the all time list of heavyweight greats. The first black champion reigned for seven years, and it certainly would have been a lot longer had the likes of Jeffries and Burns not avoided meeting him for so long. As it was, Johnson had to wait until he was 30 to get his chance. It was only after six sucsessful defences and one draw that he relinquished the title, and then it has to be remembered that "L'il Arthur" had turned 37.
Johnson was born in Glaveston, Texas, on 31st March 1878. His early experience of boxing came in the infamous"Battles Royal". In this brutal activity, between six and a dozen black youngsters were thrown into a ring together for the entertainment of a white crowd. The sole survivor scooped the pool, which might consist of nickels and dimes tossed disdainfully by the spectators. It was an experience which burned deep into the aspiring heavyweight., and when he fought his way to the top, he showed that he had a long memory.


UNCANNY DEFENCE


Ironically, it was probably at least in part because of the Battles Royal that Johnson had developed a defence which verged on the uncanny. At a shade over 6 ft and 13 stone 10lb when he fought for the title, Johnson was no giant by modern standards. But he was a master of his craft, and the fact that the boxing fraternity rates him so highly nearly a hundred years on speaks volumes for his contribution to the sport.
By 1903 he had beaten all the top contenders and was regarded as the best black heavyweight in the world. He openly challenged Jeffries to the title, but the latter made it clear he wouldn't step into the ring with a negro. Several years later, he was to change his mind as far as Johnson was concerned, and take a terrible beating as a result.
When Tommy Burns became champion in 1906, Johnson embarked on a persuit that lasted two long years. One of the greatest chases in sporting history saw Johnson follow Burns from America to Britain, France and Australia. He finally pinned his man down to a contest in Sydney, on 26th Dec 1908.

POLICE INTERVENE


Ever the shrewd businessman, Burns negotiated a guranteed fee of $25,000, win, lose or draw. It was just as well. Johnson recieced just $5,000, but the coveted title at last was within his grasp. He knocked Burns down in the first round, and again in the seventh. It was clear that he could have finished off the champion any time he liked. Johnson didn't like, however. After all the years of racial abuse, all the years of being humiliatingly marginalised by the white boxing establishment, Johnson wanted to savour the moment. The fight was eventually stopped in the 14th round, the police intervening to prevent the game French-Canadian from taking further punishment.


HIGH LIVING


Johnson continued to enjoy the high life. He interrupted his hedonistic pursuits for the absolute minimum time necessary to remain on top of the boxing world. He often looked as if he'd come into the ring straight from a bar instead of a gym, yet no-one came close to making him pay for his lack of preperation.
The clamour from Jeffries to come out of retirement was now greater than ever, and the former champion finally relented. After six years out of the ring, he agreed to fight Johnson. The match - or mismatch as it is transpired - took place in Reno, on 4th of July 1910. Johnson did to Jeffries what he'd done to Burns. He cut him, taunted him and toyed with him, humiliated him. He finally smashed the previously unbeaten Jeffries to the canvas in the 15th round.
Unable to get the better of Johnson in the ring, his enemies turned to the law. The champion was charged under a new piece of legislation which made it illegal to transport white women across statelines for immoral purposes. It didn't matter whether - as in Johnson's case - the women were willing participants. Many were liable to prosecution under this ridiculous new law. Unsurprisingly Johnson was targeted. His guilt was never in doubt and he was sentenced to a year and a day's imprisonment. Released on bail, he manage to skip the country by joining a Canadian baseball team on tour in the USA. Johnson took the place of a lookalike in the team when it returned home.
From Canada he headed for Europe. After two defences of his title in Paris, and another in Buenos Aires, Johnson agreed to fight the latest great white hope, a 6ft 6in cowboy named Jess Willard. Johnson had turned 37 by the time they met in Havana, Cuba, on 5th of April 1915. Not only was Johnson at a disadvantage in terms of age, height and weight, his dissolute lifestyle was finally catching up with him. It was a fight too far for L'il Arthur.
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#2
Old 12-12-2005, 10:26 PM
j
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surprised that there are no comments here. if you guys get a chance to, pick up "unforgivable blackness" the companion book to the video documentary. it's a good inclusive read about jack and parallels many of the accounts of events that i've read from other books on jack johnson or books on boxing history around the very early 1900's. be warned though, it's not a book for the illiterate or people who have grade school reading levels.
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#3
Old 12-12-2005, 10:30 PM
butterfly1964
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yeah, jack johnson was a beast. he is the first fighter chronologically to be on my top ten list. i have him seventh, under ali, liston, holmes, foreman, frazier, and tyson.
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#4
Old 12-13-2005, 10:34 AM
kid dynamite
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what no joe louis, dempsey or rocky in your top ten..
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#5
Old 12-13-2005, 06:40 PM
Da Iceman
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your list is ****
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#6
Old 02-26-2006, 08:57 PM
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Jack Johnson is #2 on my list. I love watching his fights.
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Old 02-26-2006, 09:27 PM
Kid Achilles
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How can you rate Holmes above Joe Louis? The only thing Holmes has going for him is longevity as champion (title defenses) and Louis beats him in that category too. I am curious to read how you can possibly justify this.
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#8
Old 02-26-2006, 09:48 PM
RockyMarcianofan00
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Quote:
Originally Posted by butterfly1964
yeah, jack johnson was a beast. he is the first fighter chronologically to be on my top ten list. i have him seventh, under ali, liston, holmes, foreman, frazier, and tyson.
and you call other ppl racist

lol no some of those guys were good fighters
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#9
Old 02-26-2006, 10:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kid Achilles
How can you rate Holmes above Joe Louis? The only thing Holmes has going for him is longevity as champion (title defenses) and Louis beats him in that category too. I am curious to read how you can possibly justify this.
if holmes didnt have a long title reign nobody would really care about him nowadays.
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#10
Old 02-26-2006, 10:22 PM
RockyMarcianofan00
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the only other thing he has is nearly beating Marciano's record (49-0)

holmes was 48-0 going into the spinks fight but lost

he did all that bad mouthing of marciano being horrible for nothing
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