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  • #61
    The color line was an American cultural tradition. It was an unwritten rule that no heavyweight champion should give any black heavyweight a chance to win a title that would make him the physical master to any other man. Think of the phycological and sociological ramifications! The race that was told and thought of as inferior is actually superior. THIS was the underlying reason blacks did not get an opportunity in the heavyweight division. It took Burns, A CANADIAN, who was not locked into American norms, to give Johnson a title shot. Note the bout took place in Australia. Burns wrote everyone was telling him not to fight a black man (Johnson). He did not understand why not.

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    • #62
      Originally posted by HOUDINI563 View Post
      The color line was an American cultural tradition. It was an unwritten rule that no heavyweight champion should give any black heavyweight a chance to win a title that would make him the physical master to any other man. Think of the phycological and sociological ramifications! The race that was told and thought of as inferior is actually superior. THIS was the underlying reason blacks did not get an opportunity in the heavyweight division. It took Burns, A CANADIAN, who was not locked into American norms, to give Johnson a title shot. Note the bout took place in Australia. Burns wrote everyone was telling him not to fight a black man (Johnson). He did not understand why not.
      I don't know of any to be honest, but, you're probably the man to ask.

      Where there any champions with a legitimate racial agenda? Pretty much every colorline champion, including the pre-queensberry guys, all fall back on the not allowed bit. Or, at least the historians who write about them.

      Not John L.'s fault he didn't fight Godfrey

      Corbett's not to blame for Armstrong

      Fitzs or Jeffries, and Childs almost never even be mentioned together let alone anyone blamed for that fight not happening.

      So on, Dempsey and Will, Johnson and Langford, etc.

      I'm not looking to absolve or demonize anyone, there is no point beyond the curiosity. It just seems odd everytime the colorline is spoken to people point out it was cultural and the audience who is to blame really, but, not one single champion during that culture actually adhere'd to the culture?


      To be clear, I'm not asking who was racist. I know some of them were racists but I don't know of a single champion who has ever used their own racism as a reason to not fight or at least ever has been held responsible for their racism. It's always told as if the champ really didn't have much choice in the matter and I'm just curious how true that was vs how convenient it is to say and cast a blanket over the entire era.

      Thanks for any info bud.

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      • #63
        Problem is...what was considered normal “speak” in those days sounds like off the wall racist today. As an example some of the statements by Jeffries. Conversely others have written he was not racist in the least.

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        • #64
          Originally posted by Marchegiano View Post
          I don't know of any to be honest, but, you're probably the man to ask.

          Where there any champions with a legitimate racial agenda? Pretty much every colorline champion, including the pre-queensberry guys, all fall back on the not allowed bit. Or, at least the historians who write about them.

          Not John L.'s fault he didn't fight Godfrey

          Corbett's not to blame for Armstrong

          Fitzs or Jeffries, and Childs almost never even be mentioned together let alone anyone blamed for that fight not happening.

          So on, Dempsey and Will, Johnson and Langford, etc.

          I'm not looking to absolve or demonize anyone, there is no point beyond the curiosity. It just seems odd everytime the colorline is spoken to people point out it was cultural and the audience who is to blame really, but, not one single champion during that culture actually adhere'd to the culture?


          To be clear, I'm not asking who was racist. I know some of them were racists but I don't know of a single champion who has ever used their own racism as a reason to not fight or at least ever has been held responsible for their racism. It's always told as if the champ really didn't have much choice in the matter and I'm just curious how true that was vs how convenient it is to say and cast a blanket over the entire era.

          Thanks for any info bud.
          I suspect back then racism was systemic to the culture but at the same time Blacks and Whites had been living side-side since Jamestown; in the South their lives entangled on a daily basis.

          In trying to understand the individual (fighter) and the Color Line I'd bet you can pretty much assume people haven't really changed all that much. Self-interest is almost always the number one motivation that moves us.

          While some fighters were, actually color blind, most probably acted racially in their own best interest.

          Avoiding crossing the the color line, likely made a white fighter's life easier, but when he couldn't get the right 'white' fight (Burns-Johnson); or needed to prove a point (Corbett-Jackson); or just plain needed money, (see Dempsey below) the line quickly became blurred.

          E. g. This duplicity of behavior wasn't lost on Jack Dempsey who had a way of speaking simple truths:

          Full Article: Color Line Erased by Jack Dempsey

          [Content is Protected, Please Register For Free To Unlock This Content]


          P.S. The reason I included the Burns-Johnson fight where I did is because I am not as generous towards Tommy Burns as Houdini is. Burns wasn't that popular in the States and he was always looking for challengers who could bring a gate. He was on his grand world tour when he fought Jack Johnson, and didn't condescend to fight him until he had run out of white challengers; he was reduced to fighting the same (white) guys multiple times and I suspect the crowds were growing bored.

          I am not sure but this may have been the first big fight where the champion was guaranteed the lion's share of the gate 'win-or-lose.' The really early fights (Sullivan-Corbett) were often 'winner-take-all.' Burns left Johnson with very little of the proceeds; it was not an equitable split, Burns took full advantage.

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          • #65
            - -Ace points, Pep.

            But what about the story of JJ beating up the promoter of the Burns fight to seize his % + the promoter % to hightail it to Vancouver instead of England where Sam Langford arrived in anticipation of his guaranteed fight with Johnson?

            What do your sleuth skills tell us about this muddled period of history?

            Comment


            • #66
              Originally posted by Willie Pep 229 View Post
              I suspect back then racism was systemic to the culture but at the same time Blacks and Whites had been living side-side since Jamestown; in the South their lives entangled on a daily basis.

              In trying to understand the individual (fighter) and the Color Line I'd bet you can pretty much assume people haven't really changed all that much. Self-interest is almost always the number one motivation that moves us.

              While some fighters were, actually color blind, most probably acted racially in their own best interest.

              Avoiding crossing the the color line, likely made a white fighter's life easier, but when he couldn't get the right 'white' fight (Burns-Johnson); or needed to prove a point (Corbett-Jackson); or just plain needed money, (see Dempsey below) the line quickly became blurred.

              E. g. This duplicity of behavior wasn't lost on Jack Dempsey who had a way of speaking simple truths:

              Full Article: Color Line Erased by Jack Dempsey

              [Content is Protected, Please Register For Free To Unlock This Content]


              P.S. The reason I included the Burns-Johnson fight where I did is because I am not as generous towards Tommy Burns as Houdini is. Burns wasn't that popular in the States and he was always looking for challengers who could bring a gate. He was on his grand world tour when he fought Jack Johnson, and didn't condescend to fight him until he had run out of white challengers; he was reduced to fighting the same (white) guys multiple times and I suspect the crowds were growing bored.

              I am not sure but this may have been the first big fight where the champion was guaranteed the lion's share of the gate 'win-or-lose.' The really early fights (Sullivan-Corbett) were often 'winner-take-all.' Burns left Johnson with very little of the proceeds; it was not an equitable split, Burns took full advantage.


              Very good point very well made. Basically, fighter are fighters and act like fighters in all eras.

              It would be difficult to say, regardless of how brazen or by modern standards offensive any champion conducted themselves in public or even in private because that conduct does affect his wallet and there isn't a generation of prizefighters who isn't concerned with that.

              Pretty much like saying it's hard to tell if an ancient boxer was really all that pious or that since boxing was ruled by priests and seen as a rite to Apollo then it behooved boxers and champions to appeal to those priests.

              You can even use this logic to explain how boxer fought. The rules only dictate the styles to a certain degree. It think it would be fair to say the cultural pressures of the audience handles the rest. I can say for certain that in the 1780s when Mendoza was first bringing lateral movement, defensive posturing, and counter-punching to boxing his audience hated him for it. Maybe the only man more hated than Johnson. It wasn't seen as scientific, skillful, or any of the nice adjective used while he was retired. When he was champion he was considered a coward, and to this day some people don't really care for the modern versions of his style. But, his entire career his based on pissing people, and ducking punches sure pissed people off in the 17s. Conversely, in the first century Melankomas had excellent defense and was defied for it. His legends are among the most unbelievable, probably because in his era defense was seen as highly skilled. Mendoza's nonsense would have worked, but, he'd've been a hero to them.

              Today, a modern Mendoza is basically just Floyd. Maybe in a few hundred years a man like that will be praised and won't have to play the bad guy in public.




              Correct me if I've misunderstood.

              Comment


              • #67
                Originally posted by Marchegiano View Post
                Very good point very well made. Basically, fighter are fighters and act like fighters in all eras.

                It would be difficult to say, regardless of how brazen or by modern standards offensive any champion conducted themselves in public or even in private because that conduct does affect his wallet and there isn't a generation of prizefighters who isn't concerned with that.

                Pretty much like saying it's hard to tell if an ancient boxer was really all that pious or that since boxing was ruled by priests and seen as a rite to Apollo then it behooved boxers and champions to appeal to those priests.

                You can even use this logic to explain how boxer fought. The rules only dictate the styles to a certain degree. It think it would be fair to say the cultural pressures of the audience handles the rest. I can say for certain that in the 1780s when Mendoza was first bringing lateral movement, defensive posturing, and counter-punching to boxing his audience hated him for it. Maybe the only man more hated than Johnson. It wasn't seen as scientific, skillful, or any of the nice adjective used while he was retired. When he was champion he was considered a coward, and to this day some people don't really care for the modern versions of his style. But, his entire career his based on pissing people, and ducking punches sure pissed people off in the 17s. Conversely, in the first century Melankomas had excellent defense and was defied for it. His legends are among the most unbelievable, probably because in his era defense was seen as highly skilled. Mendoza's nonsense would have worked, but, he'd've been a hero to them.

                Today, a modern Mendoza is basically just Floyd. Maybe in a few hundred years a man like that will be praised and won't have to play the bad guy in public.




                Correct me if I've misunderstood.
                - - Did Mendoza abuse the KD rule that killed the rd for a one minute rest period like Bendigo did?

                There were uncounted dozens of KDs and throw downs in the epic JL vs Kilrain bout that were mostly legit by JL.

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                • #68
                  Burns wrote that he was warned that he had to announce he was drawing the color line and not to fight a black man for the title. He further wrote he could not understand why he needed to do so. There is no doubt the $ no matter where they came we’re of great interest to Burns. HOWEVER there is an underlying reason a non American gave a black man a title shot and that title shot took place outside the US. Promoters would not touch the bout in the states and by being raised outside the US he was not bound by American cultural norms.

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Originally posted by Marchegiano View Post
                    Very good point very well made. Basically, fighter are fighters and act like fighters in all eras.

                    It would be difficult to say, regardless of how brazen or by modern standards offensive any champion conducted themselves in public or even in private because that conduct does affect his wallet and there isn't a generation of prizefighters who isn't concerned with that.

                    Pretty much like saying it's hard to tell if an ancient boxer was really all that pious or that since boxing was ruled by priests and seen as a rite to Apollo then it behooved boxers and champions to appeal to those priests.

                    You can even use this logic to explain how boxer fought. The rules only dictate the styles to a certain degree. It think it would be fair to say the cultural pressures of the audience handles the rest. I can say for certain that in the 1780s when Mendoza was first bringing lateral movement, defensive posturing, and counter-punching to boxing his audience hated him for it. Maybe the only man more hated than Johnson. It wasn't seen as scientific, skillful, or any of the nice adjective used while he was retired. When he was champion he was considered a coward, and to this day some people don't really care for the modern versions of his style. But, his entire career his based on pissing people, and ducking punches sure pissed people off in the 17s. Conversely, in the first century Melankomas had excellent defense and was defied for it. His legends are among the most unbelievable, probably because in his era defense was seen as highly skilled. Mendoza's nonsense would have worked, but, he'd've been a hero to them.

                    Today, a modern Mendoza is basically just Floyd. Maybe in a few hundred years a man like that will be praised and won't have to play the bad guy in public.




                    Correct me if I've misunderstood.
                    Interesting analogy. I see the connection.

                    As I was reading about Mendoza I was thinking, yea that's sounds like Floyd today. Then I got to your last paragraph. LOL

                    I think others have been tarnished that way as well. Tunney and early Clay come to mind first. Funny that it doesn't seem to have applied to Willie Pep though. Makes you wonder why some can transcend the game and others get called (unjustly) cowards.

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      Originally posted by HOUDINI563 View Post
                      Burns wrote that he was warned that he had to announce he was drawing the color line and not to fight a black man for the title. He further wrote he could not understand why he needed to do so. There is no doubt the $ no matter where they came we’re of great interest to Burns. HOWEVER there is an underlying reason a non American gave a black man a title shot and that title shot took place outside the US. Promoters would not touch the bout in the states and by being raised outside the US he was not bound by American cultural norms.
                      You are correct regarding America and I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. That fight never happens in the States.

                      Maybe I am being a little hard on Tommy Burns, after all he took the fight (just as he always promised he would, fight anyone) and that counts for much!

                      I think he was Italian-Canadian, born Noah Brusso. The fact that he felt he had to take on the moniker of an "Irishman" suggests he knew something about racial prejudice first hand.

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