world's first African American heavyweight champion patented a wrench (U.S.patent#1,413,121)
on April the 18th, 1922.
Johnson, defeated Canadian Tommy Burns on December 26, 1908, in the World
Boxing Championship held in Sydney. This initiated the quest to find a
"Great White Hope" to defeat Johnson. James Jeffries, a leading white fighter,
came out of retirement to answer the challenge. Jack Johnson won their
fight on July 4, 1910. News of Jeffries's defeat ignited numerous incidents
of white violence against blacks. However, black poet William Waring Cuney
captured the exuberant African American reaction in his poem, "My Lord,
What a Morning":
To the right you can view the patent
issued for Jack Johnson's wrench or view the full
Jack Johnson - Biography
Jack Johnson was born John Arthur
Johnson on March 31, 1878, in Galveston, Texas.
Johnson boxed professionally from
1897 to 1928, and boxed in exhibition matches until 1945. During his boxing
career, Jack Johnson fought 114 fights, winning 80 matches, 45 by knockouts.
He first won the heavyweight title by knocking out champion Tommy Burns
in 1908, and held on that title until April 5, 1915. Johnson was knocked
out by Jess Willard in the 26th round during the World Championship fight
Jack Johnson received bad publicity
by the press for his two marriages, both to Caucasian women. Due to the
racist attitudes of the times, interracial marriages were prohibited in
most of America. Johnson was convicted in 1912 of violating the Mann Act
by transporting his wife across state lines before their marriage and was
sentenced to a year in prison. While out on appeal Jack Johnson escaped
fearing for his safety. Posing as a member of a black baseball team, he
fled to Canada and later Europe. Jack Johnson remained a fugitive for seven
years. Johnson defended his heavyweight championship three times in Paris
before his fight to Jess Willard.
In 1920, Jack Johnson decided to
return to the United States to serve his sentence. After his release from
prison, Jack Johnson's boxing career declined. To make ends meet, Johnson
worked in vaudeville even appearing with a trained flea act.
Jack Johnson wrote two memoirs of
his life, "Mes Combats" (1914) and "Jack Johnson in the Ring and
He died in an automobile accident on June 10, 1946, in Raleigh, N.C.
John Arthur "Jack" Johnson
He became the first Black world
heavyweight champion on December 26 1908 by defeating Tommy Burns in the
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Image of Jack Johnson provided by
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