He represented POWER, GRACE, STYLE, DEFIANCE & PRIDE-among many other traits-but to others he threatened to shatter the myth of the ignorant & inferior Black Man. Globally Jack Johnson personified the fight against Oppression, Racism, Segregation & Imperialism from inside the ring-and outside the ring. Inside the ring he was able to goad then Heavyweight Champion Tommy Burns into breaking the unwritten rule that prevented Black Boxers from fighting against White Boxers. The end result is that on December 14th 1908, Jack Johnson became Boxing's FIRST Black Heavyweight Champion. A title that he would hold onto until 1915-dominating a host of challenger's along the way. From this comes the term "Great White Hope;" as fighter after fighter lined up to restore dignity to the Heavyweight Championship by putting down the uppity negro Jack Johnson. One of these encounters, a 1910 title defense against former champion Jim Jeffries, led to race riots in 50 cities across the country.
Outside the ring, Jack Johnson publicly brashly spoke out against European Imperialism, challenged Jim Crow Laws, rode around in flashy cars, and flaunted the way that White Women loved him on a daily basis. Thus the cancer had to be eliminated. In most ways, Jack Johnson was the blueprint for what we would later receive in Muhammad Ali-who would later be quoted as affectionately referring to him as "Papa Jack." So as no fighter could dethrone the king from his perch at the top, the law found a way to take Johnson down. Manipulating the wording of the Mann Act-a law written to protect women from being kidnapped & transported across state line for prostitution-Jack Johnson was sentenced to One Year & One Day in Prison for his allegedly immoral interracial sexual escapades. Shortly after his conviction in 1913, Johnson skipped out on his bail & would remain a fugitive in Europe & South America until 1920. Eventually returning to the U.S. in 1920, Johnson would serve 10 months in prison & would never be the same again. Jack Johnson died in an automobile accident in 1946; and it would be more the 20 years before another Black fighter would get the opportunity to fight for the World Heavyweight Championship (Joe Louis in 1937). Today, politicians like Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid, former Republican Presidential nominee John McCain & celebrities such as Mike Tyson are actively lobbying for President Barack Obama to sign an official order pardoning Jack Johnson's conviction. A man my die; but RESPECT earned will LIVE ON FOREVER...