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Thread: Jack Johnson sparring partner George Paris

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    Jack Johnson sparring partner George Paris

    I am interested in finding out as much as I possibly can about George Paris. The only legitimate information I have at present is a brief excerpt in Murray Grieg's Goin' The Distance: Canada's Boxing Heritage that tells me Paris was born in Truro, Nova Scotia in 1890, and that he "moved from the Maritimes to the West Coast as a youngster" (174).

    It goes on to note that he was "well-known" in the Vancouver amateur ranks at the time, and became Jack Johnson's sparring partner after an incident in 1909 in which Johnson arrived in the area for a six round bout with Victor McLaglen. He "remained one of Johnson's main sparring partners until 1915", and Greig writes that he had a professional career after this. Boxrec has only one George Paris, a heavyweight, in its database, who fought on three occasions in 1908. Greig also has Paris' passing year, 1944. Apparently he also opened and operated a boxing school in Vancouver, until his death.

    Paris and I share the same town of birth, and I would like to try to learn more about him for research purposes personal and otherwise. I am going to also place an ad in the local daily in hopes that there might be some family of his still in this area, that know something and are willing to share, and I am just really surprised at what scarce little information I have found so far with the amount of searching I have completed already. He was Johnson's sparring partner, reportedly, for six years.

    An article from the Yukon reader posted online mentions a George Paris who was trainer to a fighter named Billy Woods, but this was in and around 1904, and it appears as if the times do not measure up; the George Paris I am seeking information on would have likely been only 14 at the oldest at that time.

    I apologize, in advance, if there is information on the aforementioned available here already. I am a new member and learning the ropes, and anxious and eager to embark upon this research journey. Any input is immensely appreciated.

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    Re: Jack Johnson sparring partner George Paris

    Update:

    I have found some more information on Paris, after a lot of exhaustive research. As it turns out, the main source I have quoted in my initial instalment, Goin' The Distance: Canada's Boxing Heritage, is likely largely inaccurate. It appears that not only are the penned birth and death years most likely factually inconsistent, but other matters pertaining to Paris reveal errors so glaring that it makes it hard to believe the author did not just make at least some of it up.

    With that being said, I now have greater evidence putting Paris' birth as having occurred most likely in the year 1868 or 1869, making him 40 or more when he crossed paths with Jack Johnson in Vancouver in 1909. I have a source that gives brief mention to the possibility that George Paris actually met Johnson in San Francisco earlier on, and had trained him for at least one fight before Vancouver ever happened. His contribution and significance to the Canadian West also apparently extended well into the realm of music, and at least as a jazz drummer, was a member of Johnson's entourage for some time, travelling with the Galveston Giant when he was champion. This puts the particle of information I found about a George Paris training and in Dawson City in 1904 into perspective, as it probably was the same George Paris, it is all coming together and making sense, even if our own National Canadian census is incongruent with its information regarding spelling and birth year in two seperate records. A reflection of the affect of treatment of minority race in that day?

    I am still very interested in any information that anybody might have to offer on him, as it has local African Nova Scotian appeal, and the more I gather, the more it appears he was quite an interesting character, although I also already get the impression that he might have been the last person who would have wanted any unique kind of attention paid to him for his accomplishments. If anybody would like to contact me, and find out more in detail what other information I have about him already, that is also welcome. Just PM me and I can give you an e mail address I have established specifically for this research project.

    One final note, I have his death year as 1947, still in Vancouver, if this helps anyone. Two inner-city newspaper sources are divided as to his age at death, however. Any input is immensely appreciated.

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    Re: Jack Johnson sparring partner George Paris

    i dont know what you mean by "crossed paths" but Johnson stayed at least a night and Paris's home in Vancouver when the white hotels denied him a room.

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    Re: Jack Johnson sparring partner George Paris

    Quote Originally Posted by bobbydobbs
    i dont know what you mean by "crossed paths" but Johnson stayed at least a night and Paris's home in Vancouver when the white hotels denied him a room.

    Yes, Geoffrey C. Ward, Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson page 138, footnote. I am still actively in the process of separating fact from fiction, and exaggeration from understatement, and now believe that the information in Goin' The Distance: Canada's Boxing Heritage, those three tiny paragraphs that initially inspired this entire investigation, might be nothing other than the direct result of groggy sports bar grandiloquence. I have uncovered more information, however, from other more well-researched resources, indicating that Paris and Johnson did travel together during the time Johnson was champion. Whether or not the two actually sparred is still not as clear, as Grieg also wrote that "many sportswriters of the day opined that he (Paris) was the one man besides Sam Langford who might be capable of defeating "The Galveston Giant"" (174). His words, and not mine. I am simply in the process of trying to find out more of what Paris did and did not do, and Grieg's "historical account" was the first time I had ever seen anything about George Paris in print.

    Thank you very kindly for your input though. I am a bit confused at having not been notified automatically or I would have replied, in turn, already. I will try adding this thread to "Favourites" and see what happens.

    *Edited once to terminate typos I could not tolerate*
    Last edited by Patch; 02-21-2007 at 12:01 AM.

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    Re: Jack Johnson sparring partner George Paris

    the other day i did a search on proquest for Johnson and Paris and only found that reference. but that doesnt mean that they did not travel together as there are more ways to search proquest then just putting in the names. my advice is to keep looking at the secondary sources and then try to find newspapers from the places they traveled to and look at that dates. of course this is easier if you have access to a library that does Inter Library loans. good luck.

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    Re: Jack Johnson sparring partner George Paris


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    Re: Jack Johnson sparring partner George Paris

    Thank you Bobby Dobbs and BoxofDaylight. Bobby, I really appreciate your taking time from your already busy schedule in boxing to do that, and BoxofDaylight, I had already tried boxrec's forum search engine, with my efforts coming up fruitless. I guess I have to get better at conducting those kinds of database searches and figuring out how to use their many options to my advantage!

    It is very appreciated, as I am in the backwater podunk parts of Atlantic Canada again at present, and big-city library access eludes me, but I am looking into creative and affordable alternatives for accessing outlets of information in important cities elsewhere on the continent. That is a long-winded way of saying that some long distance phone calls are definitely in order soon. My being out east, I get to take advantage of time zones and evening savings, getting in touch with the furthermore western world during their working daytime. I did hook myself up with some valuable books, the best I could do, with our local regional chain of libraries, of which their network is actually not so bad. Thank you very much once again guys. I am excited at every bit of information I can gather on Paris.
    Last edited by Patch; 02-22-2007 at 01:29 AM.

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    Re: Jack Johnson sparring partner George Paris

    George Paris was also a jazz musician, quite well respected in the industry later in his life. He also, after his active career ended as a fighter, trained the police force of Montreal in boxing. I have some articles on George if you would like to write to me at KSmith9116@aol.com
    Kevin

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    Re: Jack Johnson sparring partner George Paris

    Hey KSmith9116, thank you very much! I'd go on but I will happily oblige and get in touch with you using the address you have posted.

    I remain interested in any information I can find, and thank you again to everybody who has helped me out so far.
    Last edited by Patch; 02-22-2007 at 08:26 PM.

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    Re: Jack Johnson sparring partner George Paris

    I am gathering more and more interesting information on George Paris, inside and outside the sport of boxing, and I would like to thank everybody once again for their generousity and willingness to help me.

    I still have a very long way to go in having enough information to put together any kind of comprehensive body of material that would give Paris his deserved distinction, and anything that anybody has on Paris, boxing related or not, is still of immense interest and value to me.

    I want to leave all lines open, as I welcome anything - no tidbit is too small - and leave a note to thank those of you who have helped me out and even endeavoured to, thus far. Thank You.

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