The CBZ Newswire

Tag: Jack Johnson

Battling Jim – The Johnson Who Fell Just Short

by on Feb.05, 2012, under Boxing News

By Christopher J. LaForce


Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson

John Arthur “Jack” Johnson is universally recognized as one of Boxing’s great heavyweight champions. His reign, unfortunately, was marked by a dearth of talent among the white heavyweights, but there were certainly some formidable black dreadnoughts practicing their craft at the time. Sam Langford, Joe Jennette (also Jeanette, Jeannette) and Sam McVea (or McVey) were a trio that made their way into Boxing’s Hall(s) of Fame and were an ordeal for any fighter to trade punches with. The irony here is that Jack pulled the old “color line” against them, saying, “Two black boys don’t draw flies,” meaning, of course, that the amount the public would pay to see them duke it out wouldn’t be enough to warrant the risk involved.

Johnson fled the United States in June of 1913 to escape the persecution of white bigots who detested his audacity. “Li’l Artha” had the courage to live his life according to his own choices, rather than submit to the dictates of a largely racist society which had instituted the “Jim Crow” laws. He married several white women over the years, and the real surprise is that he wasn’t lynched at some point. When the government convicted him to a 1-year prison sentence on trumped up charges via the recently-enacted Mann Act (which prohibited interstate transport of females for “immoral purposes”), Jack furtively escaped into Canada, from where he took a steamship to France. On December 19 of that year, despite his claim that he would never defend his world title against another of his race, Jack had a bout against a large (usually listed at 6′ 3′ and 220 pounds)* and useful, but limited black boxer by the nom de guerre, “Battling” Jim Johnson. (continue reading…)

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