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White Hopes -- 1908-1915

When Jack Johnson beat Tommy Burns for the Heavyweight Championship in December 1908, a cry went up for a white "hope" to reclaim the title. Jack London's infamous column best represents the prevailing attitude:

[I] was with Burns all the way. He was a white man and so am I. Naturally I wanted to see the white man win. Put the case to Johnson and ask him if he were the spectator at a fight between a white man and a black man which he would like to see win. Johnson's black skin will dictate a desire parallel to the one dictated by my white skin. . . . But one thing remains. Jeffries must emerge from his alfalfa farm and remove the smile from Johnson's face. "Jeff, it's up to you . . ."

-- New York Herald, December 27, 1908

The White Hope era came to an end on April 5, 1915, with Jess Willard's win over Jack Johnson for the Heavyweight Championship of the World. From 1915 through 1935 very few black fighters got the chance to fight for a world crown. Many of these boxers are profiled in our Black Dynamite zone.

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