Sunday, 20 October 2013

Black History Month: Celebrating Jack Johnson -the first Black heavyweight champion of the world…..

Title: Jack Johnson: A Great African-American champion from Ghana

Boxer Jack Johnson instilled pride in the African-American community in 1908 by becoming the first African-American world heavyweight champion at 30 years old. Born John Arthur Johnson in Texas, Jack was the son of former Southern slaves; his father traced their ancestry directly to modern-day Ghana.
Johnson’s contemplative boxing style was largely defensive, as he waited patiently for opponents to reveal weaknesses for him to exploit.
Though Johnson regularly faced off against both black and white boxers, world heavyweight champ James Jeffries refused to fight him on racial grounds.
When finally given the chance to spar against reigning champ Tommy Burns in 1908, Johnson became the first Black heavyweight champion of the world.
When undefeated boxer James Jeffries came out of retirement in 1910 to “reclaim the heavyweight title for the white race,” his loss sparked race riots in 25 of America’s 50 states. (Film footage of the Jeffries-Johnson “Fight of the Century” is preserved in the National Film Registry.)
Johnson married three successive white women, causing considerable controversy in the segregated age of early 20th century America.
As one of the first celebrity athletes of the modern era, Johnson endorsed products, drove race cars and sported stylishly expensive suits.
For seven years, Johnson lived in Montreal, France, South America and Mexico avoiding a jail sentence for transporting a prostitute across state lines (his eventual second wife, Lucille Cameron). Eventually, he served his year-long sentence.
Congress recently passed a resolution for President Obama to officially pardon Jack Johnson for this unjust incarceration.
Johnson died in a fatal car crash in 1946, speeding angrily away from a North Carolina diner that refused to serve him because of his race.
Famed jazz pioneer Miles Davis recorded A Tribute to Jack Johnson in 1970; the legendary boxer is also the subject of many other tributes, including the 2005 documentary, Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.
Paulina says: Wow what a man!!! The suits, the cigar, the flashy cars, his white wives and devil-may-care attitude –my goodness Jack Johnson was unafraid!!
Jack Johnson‘s story, success and fall, and stylish swagger in a time when Black people were ‘sitting at the back of buses’ makes for uber aspirational reading.
I’m loving the late great Jack Johnson……and can’t believe that I hadn’t heard of him until now!!!
I love his style ---as you can see from above photos he was a tour de force, a trailblazer, a-man-about-town and an innovator…
Jack Johnson truly had that thing that innately stylish Ghanaian men have, –the power to break down boundaries and garner respect from ‘the’ mainstream-ers…
I sooooo want to know more about Jack Johnson --sooo-ama-dig-deeper and will keep you in the loop…. I’m also guessing …the ‘boxing spirit’ has always been in our blood…  
More Info
Title: John Mccain Seeks Presidential Pardon for boxer Jack Johnson
Dated: 29th June 2010

‘I know the president, once he looks carefully at this issue, would want to correct a grave injustice done,’” McCain said.
The 100-year anniversary of the defeat of the “Great White Hope” Jim Jeffries at the hands of black heavyweight boxing champ Jack Johnson is approaching.
But the bell hasn’t yet signalled the end of the fight to get Johnson pardoned for a conviction his supporters say was brought on by racism.
The day was July 4, 1910. Two years earlier, Johnson had made history by becoming the first black heavyweight champion of the world. Unsatisfied with a black man holding that title, Johnson’s critics convinced Jeffries, the  previously undefeated champ, to challenge Johnson in a bout that took place in Reno in front of some 20,000 spectators. The occasion was dubbed “The Fight of the Century” in an atmosphere fraught with racial tension.

When Jeffries failed to reclaim the title, falling to Johnson in the 15th round, race riots erupted.

Johnson’s story doesn’t stop after his victory. By many accounts, the boxer marched to the beat of his own drummer, perhaps even literally as he had his own jazz band, owned a Chicago nightclub and was an actor, according to an ESPN profile.

The network further reported that Johnson “walked his pet leopard while sipping champagne, flaunted gold teeth that went with his gold-handled walking stick and boasted of his conquest of whites — both in and out of the ring.”

It was the “out of the ring” conquering that led to trouble, Wayne Rozen, author of a book on the fight called “America on the Ropes,” told the Associated Press. Johnson married three times — all three times to white women — though he didn’t have any children

 “He just had the audacity to be with white women and they knocked him out on that,” Rozen said. “They couldn’t stand that the most important title in sports was held by a black man. The book was thrown at him for a very minor offense and it changed his life forever.”
Johnson was convicted on charges that he transported a woman across state lines for immoral purposes. He left the U.S. in 1913, but returned in 1920 to serve a year and a day in prison. He had lost his title during a fight in Cuba in1915 and did not regain it. He died in 1946 at the age of 68.

On July 4 weekend, Johnson’s supporters and his family will remember his legacy in Reno. They will also revisit the fight for a posthumous presidential pardon for Johnson. A pardon resolution was passed by Congress last year.

“It’s time that the wrong that was committed against my uncle be righted,” said Linda Haywood, Johnson’s great-great niece. Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns joined the Johnson family last year at a press conference along with two other interested supporters.

Credit: Politic 365
Paulina says: Honestly…….reading this piece is making me feel like the modern Ghanaian man might have lost his mojo…..

No comments:

Post a Comment