Tracy Callis

A Biography of the Australian Heavyweight Champion, 1860-1901
Bob Petersen

In this splendid new book by Bob Petersen, the life of Peter Jackson is presented, from the early years to the unfortunate end. As most boxing fans know, Jackson was a top heavyweight contender during the pre-1900 years but never received a shot at the title. Dr. Petersen has produced an authoritative work on the great fighter!

The following description on the Amazon and McFarland websites says much about Peter:


Born to former slaves on St. Croix in 1860, Peter Jackson made his name as a boxer with his smooth, fast style and a dangerous one-two combination. After immigrating to Australia, Jackson became that country's national heavyweight champion in 1886 before moving on to the United States and claiming the title of Colored Champion of the World in 1888. For the next ten years Peter Jackson remained undefeated, finally losing to the great Jim Jeffries in 1898. Although he never received a shot at the heavyweight title--reigning heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan refused to defend his title against a black man--Jackson remains one of the greatest heavyweights ever.


The Jackson life is thoroughly researched and presented in a well-written and scholarly manner that is both interesting and educational. Events are placed in their proper historical perspective so that it is much more than the ordinary biographical sketch about a great boxer. It is a detailed and very descriptive portrait of the times. Without a doubt, the reader will come away with a better knowledge of the life styles, socio-economic circumstances, diseases, foods, vocations - and Peter Jackson.

The book begins by inspecting the 1860-1880 years and, in many cases, expands upon happenings outside the ring. This informative approach takes the reader back to that time. As one progresses through the book, the attitudes of the people are exposed and the circumstances and ordeals that Peter experienced become apparent. Jackson's personal traits and inner strengths are revealed as well.

Numerous tidbits of boxing information pour from the pages, discussions of the people involved with the fight game are presented along with the telling of various adventures and incidents that happened to Jackson. Early experiences with Harry Sallars, Larry Foley, and Frank "Paddy" Slavin are included. We learn that not only could Peter fight well but he was a "close student of the poets" who never tired of reading and spoke with a "velvetty" voice.

Many of Jackson's fights are covered, some with round-by-round summaries - George Godfrey, Joe McAuliffe, Patsy Cardiff, "Denver" Ed Smith, Joe Goddard, Jim Corbett, Frank "Paddy" Slavin and Jim Jeffries.

This book includes nice photo images, notes for each chapter, a bibliography and an index. Anyone, boxing historian or otherwise, who follows the sport, will profit from reading this book about one of the ring's great early-day battlers.

Bob Petersen is a member of the Australian Society for Sport History and the Australian National Boxing Hall of Fame, as well as the Australian Association for Caribbean Studies.

To order this book, visit the websites amazon and McFarland

The McFarland Order Line is 800-253-2187

260 pages, softcover (7x10), $39.95
28 photos, notes, bibliography, index
ISBN-10: 078645881X
ISBN-13: 978-0-7864-5881-3
EBook ISBN: 978-0-7864-8594-9



Callis description --

Jackson is considered one of the greatest boxers who ever fought in the ring; He was fast and smooth, a boxer - puncher of the first degree who took his time, paced himself, jabbed and moved, and possessed a dangerous "One-Two"; He often fought men using just one arm - his "right hand barred"

Jackson was a serious threat to John L. Sullivan during the late 1880s and early 1890s but never received a title shot; He traveled extensively and engaged in many fights trying to secure a championship fight; Many historians consider Jackson to be the greatest fighter of that period

Jackson was inducted into the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1956 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990


Review courtesy of Tracy Callis, Historian, International Boxing Research Organization
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