21 October 2010

The Great Black Hope - The Story of Jack Johnson

The world was a significantly different place for a lot of people only a hundred years ago.  Jack Johnson, the first African-American World Heavyweight Boxing champion was the son of emancipated slaves but still had the forces of racism piled against him.  He was denied the right to compete for the world title for years, allowed only to gain the Colored title instead.

His story, however, is one of vistory against the odds.  He did go on to win the main title and the way in which he gained that fight is surprisingly contemporary.

Yet his later defense of the title would later provoke race riots in over fifty American cities - and all on the fourth of July 1910.

There is an extensive history of the man and his career over at the World in Sport.  An extremely interesting read, it serves as a reminder of an amazing boxing personality and, perhaps, that we should not accept our civil liberties quite as lazily as we do.  After all, this was not so long ago after all.