Born On This Day ~ March 31 ~ Jack Johnson


Born: March 31, 1878 (Galveston, Texas)
Died: June 10, 1946 (Raleigh, North Carolina)

Famous For/Known For:
First African American world heavyweight boxing champion.

A Little About Jack Johnson:
Born John Arthur “Jack” Johnson to ex slaves.

For the most part his childhood consisted of helping to support his family by working on boats and sculleries in Galveston.

Around the age of 16, Johnson’s first fight was against a fellow longshoreman in which he won. The prize was $1.25.

Soon after, Johnson went 4 rounds with professional boxer Bob Thompson. He received $25.00 for winning.

During the early 1900’s Johnson had made a name for himself in the black circuit and he had become known as the Galveston Giant.

Johnson wanted to fight the boxer, Jim Jeffries, who at the time held the world heavyweight title. Jeffries refused.

In 1908 Johnson went up against Tommy Burns, who had recently succeeded Jeffries as champion. Burns only agreed to this fight after promoters agreed to pay him $30,000. The fight lasted 14 rounds and ended with Johnson the winner.

On July 4, 1910 Johnson stepped into the ring with Jeffries. This Fight of the Century lasted 15 rounds. Johnson became the first African American to hold the title of Heavyweight Champion, a title he kept for 5 years. He received $117,000.

In 1990 Johnson was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Johnson’s life was made into a documentary by Ken Burns titled, Unforgivable Blackness. 

Jack Johnson died in a car accident at the age of 68.

Books About/Written By Jack Johnson:

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